Latin America and the Caribbean Sustainability Issues

The term Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) refers to the Caribbean and Latin America region, extending from Bahamas and Mexico to Argentina and Chile. The region consists of over 670,230,000 people as of 2016, and spanned for 21,951,000 square kilometres.

The region’s main challenges include a mixed growth picture accompanied by a complex macro and external environment in several countries , and unprecedented flows of intra-regional migration. We are seeing large flows of migration from both Venezuela and Central America. With growth slowing, many of those who escaped poverty are at risk of slipping back.

The major environmental issues in Central and South America and the Caribbean include deforestation, pollution, and water shortages.

In recent years, several human rights organizations – such as Amnesty International or Global Witness – have highlighted the increasing violence that environmental human rights defenders are facing on a daily basis because of their engagement in protecting the land, the environment, or local sources of water. Many of the activists working on land rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, and in rural areas across the world face harassment, threats, assault, and death.

For instance, two-thirds of the human rights defenders assassinated in 2017 reported by the NGO Front Line Defenders were engaged in environmentalist activities, especially in the context of mega projects linked to extractive industries and big corporate power affecting local communities. The involvement of corporate representatives, paramilitary forces, organized crime, and state forces contribute to impunity.

Regarding the geopolitics of the phenomena, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders has pointed out that Latin America is the deadliest place for environmental activists. Women activists in Mexico and Central America are in higher danger of being attacked and murdered – particularly activists involved in indigenous and environmental conflicts.

Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to be subdued in 2019, at 1.7 percent, reflecting challenging conditions in several of the largest economies. Gradually building momentum in Brazil and a recovery in Argentina are projected to contribute to a pickup in regional growth to 2.5 percent in 2020 and 2.7 percent in 2021. Growth in Central America is projected to accelerate moderately in the forecast period as the subregion moves past a difficult 2018. In the Caribbean, growth is projected to slow to 3.4 percent in 2019, from 4.3 percent in 2018.