Graphics: Pollution and Innovation—How Sustainable is Latin America?

To coincide with INESAD’s November Environmental Sustainability month, today’s Monday Graphics series is investigating pollution and sustainable innovations in Latin America.

The first infographic, entitled Pollution in Latin America, was compiled by Hispanically Speaking News using reports from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Yale and Columbia University, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), to show how pollution is affecting Latin America. In addition to illustrating the health hazards of pollution, such as the two million deaths a year attributed to it, countries like Nicaragua and Costa Rica are exemplified as countries heading towards environmental improvement. In fact, along with ranking fifth globally for its positive treatment of the environment, Costa Rica ranks first in a recent Happy Planet Index released by the New Economics Foundation, which measures how happy people are in relation to their ecological footprint.

Brazil is another example of a country taking positive steps forward as far as the environment is concerned. The “Brazilian Clean Energy Revolution infographic, released by Geopolitical Monitor, demonstrates how Brazil’s clean energy sector is making large strides towards a sustainable national energy program. Despite Brazil’s oil reserves allowing oil independence since 2006, 90 percent of their cars run on biofuels and in 2010 Brazil was able to save an estimated 7.9 million barrels of oil from the use of renewable energy sources.

Of course, this connot be uncritically accepted as a positive environmental development. While biofuels and other renewable energy sources benefit the economy, biofuel production is widely criticized as not being sustainable because its carbon success is negated by deforestation and loss of biodiversity, destruction of topsoil, conversion of agricultural land away from food production, and human rights issues, to name but a few.

For many sustainable environmental projects success relies heavily on innovative ideas. Based on the 2012 Global Innovation Index complied by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD), this next infographic produced by Hispanically Speaking News shows which countries are leading Latin America in environmentally sustainable innovations. For example, while Chile leads Latin America in enabling the environment to influence economic innovations, Belize scored eight points lower than the previously lowest world rank of Sudan.

With populations increasing along with the demand and consumption of energy and food, many countries are facing the difficult balancing act of reducing pollution and maintaining an ecological base capable of sustaining national economic demands. As we have seen, Latin America has many innovative and progressive ideas but still has a long way to go before the continent is truly environmentally sustainable.

Do you know of any other infographics or studies that show innovative steps Latin America is making towards environmental sustainability? Leave a reply below.

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