A new report from the Venezuelan Observation for Political Ecology, OEP, has detailed the most pressing environmental issues facing Venezuela today. The list is long lasting and according to the report, the government has done very little to address these challenges, turning a blind eye to the people and the country. The situations being faced are a part of the general crisis, that despite the obvious need for assistance, is continuing to be silenced. The report also states that the Venezuelan government has been ranked one the least transparent to its people, leaving scientists and journalists scrambling to provide a forceful glimpse into the actualities of the situations at hand.

The many challenges have been listed as—

  1. Frequent oil spills
  2. Illegal mining destroying the rainforests 
  3. Deforestation 
  4. Degradation of protected areas 
  5. A collapse in the waste management system
  6. Water scarcity and shortages

All of these horrific factors have been intensified by climate change. Last year alone the country saw an increased level of rainfall across the region resulting in mudslides, floods, and the destruction of farmlands. Back in 2021, these abnormal events caused the displacement of 32,000 people, and another 200,000 could fall into extreme poverty by 2030. 

In 2022, OEP counted 86 oil spills across the country, that’s around seven per month, leaving areas devastated. Lake Maracaibo, one of the largest lakes in South America, was subject to 31 of those spills, contaminating its waters and pushing hundreds of fishermen out of the industry. About 91% of Venezuela's mining activity is illegal, despite in-house and international criticism. The government has doubled down on the importance of mining, stating that it is necessary for promoting economic growth. Over the last five years there's been an annual average of 388,714 acres deforested—between 2021 to 2022 over 1,870 acres of land was deforested for mining purposes in the Yapacana National Park, resulting in 4,000 mining camps and 3,800 pieces of machinery being hauled into the region. The Indigenous Ye’kwana, Sanema, and Yanomami peoples suffer threats and attacks, and about 13,000 of them have fled their native area of the Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve in the Amazonian states. 

The OEP has estimated the country produces 28,000 tons of daily waste but only 5% gets recycled. Many communities get their trash collected once a month, creating a breeding ground for contamination, disease, illness, and other negative conditions. There were 459 protests pertaining to clean water access last year [2022], and there are still 12 million people restricted from accessible water. Pollution, mining contamination, cattle ranching, deforestation, and charcoal production all have contributed to the disability to source groundwater efficiently and safely. 

Between the rising temperatures, abnormal weather patterns, extreme human activity, and the negligence of the government, Venezuela has been hit with serious challenges that need to be overcome for the livelihood of the people and environment.