Strict Legislation, Enforcement Needed to Protect Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Population Growth, Consumption Driving Damage to Environment, But Examples of Positive Change Growing.

Latin America and the Caribbean's rich natural resources are crucial to the planet's environmental health, but attempts to protect them will continue to fall short unless governments increase efforts to enforce existing policies and create new ones.

Yet there is no shortage of inspiring examples of efforts to put the region on a path toward a sustainable future, from policies that have reduced deforestation rates in the Amazon to mass-transit systems in Brazil and Colombia that can help reduce emissions and thus slow down the pace of climate change.

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If scaled-up and accelerated, such measures could assist in a transition to a Green Economy as nations across the globe prepare for the Rio+20 Summit later this month.

The above are among the main findings for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) from the Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO 5), which analyzes the worldwide state of the environment and tracks progress towards agreed goals and targets.

The region is home to 23 per cent of the world's forests and 31 per cent of its freshwater resources. Yet population growth and unsustainable consumption patterns have driven the decimation of natural environments for agriculture and raw material extraction, with impacts on the region's biodiversity.

The region's growing population, already largely urbanized, poses challenges to providing safe water and sanitation in towns and cities as well as to addressing air pollution and the contamination of its freshwater, oceans and seas.

Competition for scarce resources and the inequitable distribution of benefits have led to emerging socio-environmental conflicts and risks to the traditional lifestyles and livelihoods of local and indigenous communities.

The main issues, according to the report, are weak political will, limited procedural continuity due to short terms of office and inadequate enforcement instruments.

Governments need a stronger commitment to both new policies and making existing policies more effective through adequate financial resources, transparency, accountability and inclusion.
On a regional level, GEO 5 pays particular attention to policy approaches, highlighting successful national and regional policies that can be scaled-up and replicated elsewhere. Emerging trends and regional priorities for action are also explore.

For further information consult the complete PDF version: GEO-5 Factsheet LAC-English.pdf