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It is most likely that during 2019 we will hear thousands of news about what is going wrong in Latin America and the world. From climate change, displacements and hunger, the future can be seen as a not very hopeful one. Or not, actually.

At the IDB, we want to look at the region’s silver linings and share with you how Latin America and the Caribbean has grown and overcome a myriad of challenges that, without a doubt, are improving the quality of life of millions of people from Mexico to Chile.

The green movement hits the road

Three hundred days of clean energy. For the fourth consecutive year, Costa Rica closed 2018 generating more than 98% of its energy from renewable sources. Its five dams have been the basis of this environmental success, followed by wind and geothermal energy and, to a lesser extent, biomass and solar.

The advances in power generation are joined by those in consumption: 200 electric buses joint the public transport system in Santiago de Chile, while the Colombian city of Medellín prepares the purchase of another 55 and other cities such as Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Cali, Montevideo and San José seek to follow their example.



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Yes, violence can be stopped

In 2011, Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world: 93 people were killed per 100,000 inhabitants. The feeling of insecurity and distrust in the police were very high. Today, after an ambitious police reform, the homicide rate has been reduced by half and, although much work remains, Hondurans already report feeling more secure and their trust in the police has tripled.

And this is not an isolated case: Ecuador has reduced the homicide rate from 17.6 per 100,000 inhabitants to 5.8 in just six years thanks to a comprehensive security strategy backed by a significant budget increase.

You can learn more about security statistics in the region in our Dataseg portal.



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Women, to the rise!

With no doubt at all, the feminist movement was one of the protagonists of 2018 throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. During the last decade, female labor participation has been one of the greatest drivers of employment in the region, especially in formal and salaried employment. Between 2000 and 2016, the percentage of women working or actively seeking employment has risen from 58% to 65%.

Greater empowerment and economic autonomy have an important impact on the economic development of countries. For example, the contribution of women to the family economy has gone from 33% to 37% in these years, and more women have access formal education institutions in the region.


The end of malaria

Malaria is already history in Paraguay. The country has been the only one certified as malaria free by the  World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, joining others in the region like Chile (1968), Cuba (1973) and Uruguay (2012). “Exemplary achievements such as that of Paraguay show what is possible: if malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all,” said WHO Director Tedros Adhanom.

Malaria takes 450,000 lives annually and is transmitted by mosquito bites that can cause meningitis and serious infections, affecting the brain or kidney organs. Paraguay is the spearhead of a trend: in Central America, cases of malaria were reduced by more than 90% between 2000 and 2015, while in the rest of Latin America decreased by 75%.

To know more, you can visit the Salud Mesoamérica initiative website here. 


Chile, window to the universe

With two of the most powerful super telescopes in the world under construction, Chile will house 70% of the world's astronomical observation infrastructure by 2020, positioning itself as the world’s astronomical powerhouse.

The construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will be completed in 2019, and it will take pictures never seen before and vital to understand the structure and evolution of the universe. After that, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will arrived, being the largest telescope on the planet. These new facilities will further fuel the wide national academic and research network, with scientist that are already internationally renowned as Paula Jofré, selected as one of the ten most outstanding scientists worldwide by the magazine Science News.

Puedes mirar fotos del proyecto aquí.



More heritage, more history

In the last year, Latin America has taken some of the most important steps in the world in environmental conservation. The work done by Belize to preserve the second largest coral reef in the world has received the recognition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Chile has declared almost one third of its waters as marine protected areas.

On land, Colombia has created the largest national natural park in the country in the Amazon region of the Serrania de Chiribiquete, while Mexico has managed not only to stop the disappearance of jaguars, but to increase its number by 20% since 2010. Now 14 countries in the region have joined a conservation plan for these felines with the United Nations.



Life is a carnival

The United Nations World Happiness Report 2018 makes it clear: Latin America is mostly a happy region. In total, 13 of our countries are among the 50 happiest on the planet, with Costa Ricans leading the way as in previous years (13th place), followed by Mexico (24th) and Chile (25th).

The report highlights that “family and social relationships are important for the happiness of people and that kind of positive relationships are abundant in Latin America: their happiness has social roots.” 

You can look at the complete ranking here.



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