Environmental Sustainability Issues in Argentina

Environmental Sustainability issues concerning Argentina are typical of those of most developing nations: poor water and air quality, deforestation, and soil degradation. Many nongovernmental and governmental agencies work toward research and policymaking that address pressing threats to the preservation of Argentina's wondrous natural landscapes, forests, and farmlands.

Experts agree that it is not the laws that are deficient in Argentina; rather, it is repeated failures to enforce current laws. With the added internal conflict of the 2001 economic crisis, the struggle to balance economic growth and environmental preservation is a major challenge. Currently, growth agendas are severely outweighing pro-environmental action. The environmental, social, and health costs of these habits are not being computed into Argentina's economic formula.

The following statistics give perspective to the ongoing environmental sustainability situation in Argentina:

  • Disappearances of Forests: In 1914, there were 105 million hectares; since 2005 there is an estimated 33 million remaining hectares of forest
  • Increase in Pesticides: In 1991, agriculture reported using 40 million liters of pesticides; by 1997 that number had grown to 100 million liters
  • High Levels of Lead: In the province of Jujuy, 59 percent of children from the Abra Pampas have an unsafe amount of lead in their blood; the impact to local flora and fauna is unknown
  • The burning of forests generates more greenhouse gases than motor vehicles
  • Since 1985, the amount of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 140 percent; whereas carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulates have increased 60, 56 and 100 percent, respectively
  • Since 1914, two-thirds of Argentina's native forests have been destroyed. If this destruction continues unchecked, all of Argentina's native forests will be gone by the year 2024.

With increased industrial activity and a growing population, many areas of Argentina face a total lack of safe drinking water. Municipalities rarely have the resources to treat water before entry to other bodies of water, resulting in the contamination of the majority of both subterranean and superficial water resources. Buenos Aires alone has depleted its aquifers, and now relies solely on the Rio de La Plata to supply its growing population's water needs. Unfortunately, this river is shared with Uruguay and makes one of the biggest estuaries in the world, but is being threatened by significant pollution. The establishment of transnational factories along the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers are one of the biggest threats of extreme water pollution in the area and one of the hottest topics in civil protest and debate.

Growing public awareness about the critical condition of the nation's water supply has put pressure on the government to act, in addition to raising public interest in other environmental issues. However, to create enforceable policies research must be done and the public must be educated so that they will not accept the propaganda and lack of enforcement, which has been the current government position. This is the area in which FSD has been most influential while working with environmental NGOs. FSD interns and volunteers conduct vital research that informs many projects initiated by FSD host organizations (specifically research in public transportation, public awareness campaigns, national and international environmental law policies, and air emissions cataloging). Other interns and volunteers support the implementation of project work that is fed by critical research. These various projects lay the foundation for a sustainable use of resources for several generations to come.

Read more about Environmental Sustainability programs and opportunities initiated by our Community Partners in Argentina.

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