Latin America has among the largest forest and biodiversity availability in the world, but poor environmental protection and rapid forest loss threatens the region’s biomes. Many regional countries lead in sustainable energy sources, especially hydro energy, but clean energy is not available to everyone. Increasing exposure to natural disasters is a particular concern given the vast populations concentrated in coastal areas.
Exposure to the full range of physical climate risks is increasing in Latin America, with the region being particularly prone to hydro-meteorological disasters, due to its tropical climate. Increasing temperatures are resulting in the melting of Andean glaciers, which are an essential source of water in South America, contributing to rising water stress in the region.
Most electricity output came from renewables in Latin America in 2020, with a number of Latin American countries pledging to generate 70% of energy consumption from renewables by 2030. The region is, however, struggling to ensure universal access to electricity, and clean fuels and technologies for cooking.
Latin America has some of the most species-rich biomes in the world, leading to high forest and biodiversity availability. However, rapid deforestation, coupled with an increased frequency of wildfires, driven by climate change, threaten species and their natural habitats. The high prevalence of illegal trade in pets and wildlife trafficking add to these threats.
The region has high precipitation levels and substantial renewable water resources; however, water productivity remains low, due to a lack of high-quality infrastructure and proper irrigation systems. Poor sanitation also remains an issue in the region, as water pollution is getting worse, and the risk of waterborne diseases remains high.
Due to poor solid waste treatment, a significant amount of waste ends up in illegal dumps and gets into rivers or surface water, reducing water quality in the region. Furthermore, while air quality remains high, rising CO2 emissions are causing concerns. The main reasons for increasing air pollution are expanding usage of motor vehicles and increasing consumption.
Agriculture is a key to many regional economies, thus the region is ranked highly in the Food Security category. In 2020, Latin America increased its agricultural exports by 9%; however, food expenditure as a proportion of total consumer expenditure remains higher than the world average, impeding food availability, especially for the poor.
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