The natural environment of South America is enormously variable. It includes the tropical forests of the Amazon basin, the rich wetlands of the Pantanal, La Plata basin where human influences are predominant, the semiarid regions of Brazil, Argentina and Peru, as well as the high-altitude lakes of Bolivia. It is difficult to deal in depth with all aspects related to such a diversified environment. Consequently, a few selected topics concerned with water resources, economic development and scientific challenges are discussed. They are: (a) climatic variability and its effects on hydropower production and land use; (b) environmental management of the urban environment; and (c) sustainable water management in semiarid regions.
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