12 February 2011

Latin American Green Cities

Latin America's rural challenges
such as Amazonian deforestation, often receive a great amount of attention from the media, environmentalists and other observers around the world. However, the rapid rise in city populations of Latin America has had economic, political and social implications; and environmental considerations are a major part of this integrated puzzle.

- Latin America comprehends the most urbanized areas of the developing world.
- 81% of the population in Latin America live in cities.
- Traffic jam, land use policies, waste disposal and air quality are more immediate issues to the majority of the Latin American residents than the matters of rural areas.

full study

Belo Horizonte Bogotá Brasília Buenos Aires

Curitiba Guadalajara Lima Medellin

Mexico City Monterrey Montevideo

Porto Alegre Puebla Quito

Rio de Janeiro Santiago São Paulo

Nine of the 17 cities assessed, derive more than 80% of their electrical energy from renewable sources (São Paulo 100%); policies on green spaces are widespread; Curitiba, the sustainability pioneer and the birthplace of "bus rapid transit" (BTR); São Paulo, harvesting methane to power the city and the state's climate change policies; Belo Horizonte, a leader in solar energy; Buenos Aires, setting targets for the public buildings; Rio de Janeiro, expanding cycle lanes and green corridors; Puebla, turning waste into cash; Porto Alegre, delivering "water the right way" are some of the highlights in the study.

The missing link: There is no clear relationship between overall environmental performance and the city income. For example: Curitiba, which ranked above average in the index overall, is within 15% of the income for three other cities with widely differing performances: Rio de Janeiro (above average) , Porto Alegre (average) and Guadalajara (below average). This contrasts sharply with the strong link between environmental performance and GDP per person found in similar EIU studies, including the European Green City Index and initial research taking place in Asia.

Still, according to the study, much has to be improved on transportation and urban sprawl issues. Experts predict that the infrastructure of most of these cities will come under increasing pressure from larger populations and the extreme weather effects of climate change; including floodings , droughts and storms. In addition, the growth of cities, outside of the formal planning framework will also continue. Adressing these challenges will require a broad, long term vision to balance urban redevelopment with restoring nature.

No matter how hard we try to behave in "sustainable terms" to avoid big loss, Nature seems determined to recover from what was taken from it; and the centuries relying on studies and on civilization did not provide regular citizens with the access to the science that would prevent them from having their lives reconducted by extreme events.

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