Two for Tuesday: Sustainability in Latin America  

Well, if this Winter–with its Polar Vortexes– and Bill Nye haven’t convinced you that climate change is a thing, maybe we can all agree that pollution isn’t exactly a positive thing. Perhaps, rather, sustainability is the way to go.

Air pollution, both indoors and outdoors, poses a major health threat to living things across the globe. The growing number of urban populations around the globe is not helping the problem, as major contributors to air pollution such as car emissions, factory chemicals and ozone gas exist primarily in cities. Latin America represents the world’s most urbanized developing region, with 80% of its population living in urban areas. On this Two for Tuesday, we’ll take a look at how two Latin American regions have taken noteworthy steps to combat air pollution with sustainability.

 

Bogotá, Colombia

La Ciclovía, a tradition beginning in 1974, is city-wide, car-free day in Bogotá. On Sundays and holidays between the hours of 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., the bustling city closes down more than 76 miles of streets to car traffic and hands them over to cyclists, walkers, skaters and joggers. Over 2 million people come out every week to join in on the street-wide activity. Food and drink vendors line the sidewalks, and trained instructors offer free yoga and aerobics classes in the nearby public parks, known on Sundays as the Recrovía. Considering the dense urban environment of Bogotá, this weekly prohibition of car traffic has helped significantly reduce in the city’s air pollution. Not only is La Ciclovía environmentally friendly, but it also welcomes social integration. As Mike Caesar, owner of a bike rental business in Bogotá, puts it: “Ciclovía is one of the few places where Colombians of different classes mix…The Ciclovía is democratic.” Several cities across the Americas have followed suit and created events similar to La Ciclovía, but none as frequent or ambitious. Check out the video below to see Bogotá’s sustainability for yourself!

 

 

 

Mexico City, Mexico

In 1992, the United Nations called Mexico City “the most polluted city on the planet.” Since then, the city has worked to lower its dangerously high levels of ozone and other air pollutants by revamping its public transportation system. Part of that has been the creation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The BRT offers 80 bus stations and 200 technologically modern, low-pollution buses. This option provides a more sustainable alternative to commuting by car, something many citizens were spending several hours doing each day. Mexico City recently extended the BRT system and created more bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly streets. These innovations earned them the 2013 Sustainable Transport Award, an annual prize with past winners including San Francisco, California; Guayaquil, Ecuador and Bogotá, Colombia.

Cover Photo Source: Jess Kraft / Shutterstock.com

 Leora is a Junior Executive at SJG. She is a native Chicagoan who is currently working toward obtaining a BA from Washington University in St. Louis. Outside the office, her favorite things include reading, live music and travel.