Americas

Americas

Encompassing nearly half of the globe, the Americas are comprised of every type of ecosystem, form arctic tundra to tropical rainforest.  The environmental challenges are just as diverse.  Everywhere, however, common issues predominate: climate change impacts, loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution, overexploitation of natural resources, and the improper disposal of hazardous wastes and chemicals.

In North America, environmental regulations have been in place for nearly half a century with some noteworthy successes, but significant stresses on ecosystems remain.  Enormous quantities of fertilizer and agricultural runoff are washed into North American watersheds every year, altering aquatic habitats and creating marine dead zones near the mouths of rivers.  Oil drilling and refining, chemical production, mining, and power generation continue to release large quantities of pollutants into the air, waterways, and soil to satisfy ever-increasing consumption patterns.

In Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, dense concentrations of population in urban areas and limited waste treatment infrastructure have resulted in acute air pollution, significant health risks, and critical shortages of safe drinking water. While these regions are home to an enormous level of biodiversity, many species are threatened due to the fast pace of deforestation and urban expansion into formerly pristine areas.  Mining and poor agricultural practices are responsible for sizeable discharges of runoff, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals into watersheds and coastal areas.   La Comisión Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo (CCAD) and other networks in South America and in the Caribbean, have worked with national governments to take steps to build compliance and enforcement capacity to respond to these pressing challenges.

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