Special Report

Countries Doing the Most and Least to Protect the Environment

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4. Eritrea
> Pop. exposed to unsafe air pollution levels: 100.0%
> Area with gov. protection: 3.0%
> GDP per capita: $1,510

Though Eritrea has signed the Paris Agreement on climate change and issued a proclamation in 2017 for environmental protection and restoration, it continues to be among the nations with the fewest environmental protections. Only about 11% of the population have access to basic sanitation services. Droughts, floods, and irregular rain patterns have led to soil erosion, desertification, and land degradation.

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3. Lesotho
> Pop. exposed to unsafe air pollution levels: 100.0%
> Area with gov. protection: 0.3%
> GDP per capita: $2,665

Lesotho, in southeastern Africa, has almost no protected marine or terrestrial areas. Destruction of groundcovers and an abundance of surface water have led to soil exhaustion and erosion. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project uses dams and tunnels to channel some of the excess surface water to South Africa and generate hydroelectricity. A second phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2020.

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2. Haiti
> Pop. exposed to unsafe air pollution levels: 100.0%
> Area with gov. protection: 0.4%
> GDP per capita: $1,653

The Caribbean island nation of Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with millions of people subsisting below the poverty line. It’s also prone to natural disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes. Deforestation, soil erosion, sedimentation in coastal waters, water pollution, and poor waste management are among the environmental challenges. A variety of government agencies and NGOs are assisting Haiti in developing more sustainable agricultural and business practices.

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1. Burundi
> Pop. exposed to unsafe air pollution levels: 100.0%
> Area with gov. protection: 7.6%
> GDP per capita: $668

Carbon emissions from fossil fuel and cement production rose in Burundi by a whopping 183.2% between 2007 and 2017. Deforestation, disappearance of wetlands, and water pollution are among the pressing environmental issues in the east-central Africa nation. With a tiny per capita GDP of $668, Burundi is among the poorest nations in the world, with almost 75% of the population living below the poverty line, and there is little awareness of environmental protection practices. Burundi has signed the Paris Agreement to fight back against climate change, but the road to the country taking any environmental measures when it struggles with so many issues is bound to be challenging.

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