Chile’s environmental success continues to impress

A joint study by US universities Yale and Columbia ranks Chile as the regional leader in environmental performance, notes big improvements.

From the air we breathe to the amount of land covered in forests to the quality of water sanitation, environmental parameters play a big part in determining our quality of life.

In the rush to modernization many of these concerns are overlooked, but Chile is among recent success stories according to an important new study by two of the world’s leading universities.

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) — conducted by Yale and Columbia —
ranks countries bi-annually on nine parameters: health impacts; air quality; water and sanitation; water resources, agriculture, climate and energy; biodiversity and habitat; fisheries and, finally, forests.

In the 2014 index, Chile was ranked 29 out of 178 countries assessed. As well as marking a dramatic improvement on the Andean nation’s 58th place finish in 2012, this year’s result places Chile as the highest-scoring country in Latin America with 69.3 points out of a 100.

The 69.3 point score far exceeded that of many of Chile’s neighbors with fellow rising economic power Peru receiving 45.05, Argentina (49.55) and Brazil (52.97).

In particular, Chile excelled in improving the quantity of land covered by forest obtaining a perfect score of 100 and the best mark of all assessed countries.

Chile also received a high score for water sanitation and access, placing it alongside other regional leaders in this category Uruguay and Argentina.

For Chile’s Subsecretary of the Environment Ministry, Rodrigo Benítez, this score is the result of several ambitious conservation projects.

“In marine protection we have created Motu MotiroHiva National Park (one of the five biggest in the world) and the government recently approved the creation of new protected areas in Tic-Toc Bay in the Los Lagos Region, Piti Palena in Aysén and the Juan Fernández Islands, putting us in the vanguard of maritime conservation,” he told La Tercera.

Among the other high scorers were Australia in third place with 82.40, Luxembourg in second on 83.28 and in first place — but with a notably small 20 point margin over Chile — Switzerland.

See the full study here.