United Nations Names Costa Rica ‘Champion of the Earth’
Costa Rica’s Environmental Policy Earns the UN’s Most Prestigious Award
Costa Rica’s Environmental Policy aims to decarbonize and have a full green economy by 2050!
SHHHH!! You hear that…? That little voice inside your head?
What about your feelings?
I’m sure you feel it too… That little pull on your heart?
You know what it is, but you’re not entirely sure how to solve it. You’re not alone either. Every single one of us will experience it. With constant reminders almost everywhere we go – it’s time for change. It’s time to embrace what we’ve all been ignoring for far too long, shift direction and finally start putting right – the issues we have for so long, been doing wrong.
Looking after the environment. It’s a responsibility for all of us.
You know what’s right and wrong. That you should ‘do your bit’. You know you shouldn’t litter on the streets and you’re certainly aware that whatever we have been doing, isn’t enough.
- The news reports on TV
- Headlines in the newspapers
- The recycling resource cards left on your kitchen side
- Or the countless amount of rubbish you’ll encounter on your daily commute
…are all there to remind us, Mother Earth is currently facing a plethora of environmental concerns.
Leading the Way for Long-Term Change
Costa Rica however, (a very small country in comparison to some of it’s northern neighbors) is leading the way for long-term environmental change. The country is up there with the big dogs. With a hard-driven ambition to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country, environmental leaders around the world have been quick to praise the the Latin American country.
Taking advantage of the countries growing tourism, The Costa Rican Government have also seen its environmental efforts pay off.
Generating 98.53% of it’s energy from renewable sources since 2014 – the country has achieved one of the lowest ratios of greenhouse gas emissions to electrical consumption in the world. Leaving only 1.47% of their electricity coming from fossil fuels.
Creating a better future…
Costa Rica is creating a better, healthier future for the next generation of Costa Ricans. February 24th 2019 saw the country release its Decarbonization Plan which aims to decarbonize its economy by 2050.
‘I feel very proud to be Costa Rican’ – Said President Carlos Alvarado. “Receiving the Champions of the Earth award on behalf of Costa Rica, its entire population, the past generations who protected the environment, and future generations fills me with pride and emotion for what Costa Rica has achieved and for what we can continue to do because we can achieve even more,”
What is the ‘Champions of the Earth Award’?
It’s the UN’s most precious and highest honor! Champions of the Earth are celebrated for excellence in four categories:
- Policy leadership – individuals or organizations in the public sector leading global or national action for the environment. They shape dialogue, lead commitments and act for the good of the planet.
- Inspiration and action – individuals or organizations taking bold steps to inspire positive change to protect our world. They lead by example, challenge behavior and inspire millions.
- Entrepreneurial vision – individuals or organizations challenging the status quo to build a cleaner future. They build systems, create new technology and spearhead a groundbreaking vision.
- Science and innovation – individuals or organizations who push the boundaries of technology for profound environmental benefit. They invent possibilities for a more sustainable world.
For more information you can visit the UN Environmental Program page by copying this link and pasting it into your browser: https://www.unep.org/championsofearth/about-award
What Are the Environmental Issues in Costa Rica?
Deforestation in Costa Rica
And then it was gone.
Since the end of the Second World War 80% of Costa Rica’s forest had disappeared.
As companies such a Burger King and Wendy’s grew, the acceleration of deforestation continued to explode. The need for cheap meat rose and so, large parts of Costa Rica’s forests were destroyed to make way for cattle farmers to feed the need.
In 1977 over 52,000 hectares of land was destroyed. But, as time has progressed things have gone in a more positive direction. As of 2005 this number has decreased to 4,737 hectares destroyed.
The majority of the remaining forests are now under protection, but there are still large amounts of land that are owned privately which are in turn used for profit.
While not perfect, it’s definitely heading in the right direction.
The danger to it’s wildlife has been another thorn in the countries environmental efforts. From locals raiding sea turtle nests to people finning sharks off the coast.
As a result of this, Costa Rica have become the first Latin country to ban sport hunting tourism in an effort to protect endangered species. Heavy fines and prison sentences have been put in place to deter those who take part.
With these two boxes ticked and constantly under observation, 2010 saw Costa Rica announce its new goal for a cleaner, greener country…
What is Costa Rica Doing NOW to Help the Environment?
Costa Rica’s Decarbonization Plan
Before leaving his role as president in 2010, Oscar Arias made an announcement. Costa Rica would become the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2021. 9 years later, Costa Rica released its decarbonization plan that aims to have a full green economy (Transportation, Energy, Construction, Agriculture and Land Usage) by 2050.
The plan offers 10 areas of focus. It aims to improve, promote and modernize Costa Rica’s economy following a ‘3D’ approach:
Interested in environmental issues that affect our planet? Check out the plan here…
Going Carbon Neutral in Costa Rica…
2015 saw a major step forward for the Costa Rican decarbonization plan. The country was powered for 75 days using renewable energy. They’ve has since gone onto to stretch that to 300 consecutive days.
In 2018 Vox reported that Costa Rica is moving to neutrality where carbon is concerned faster than any country in the world.President, Carlos Alvarado goes on to say;
“Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first,”
While ambitious, Costa Rica’s environmental polices show the countries long-term intentions. The plan and the milestones they’ve already reached reflect this. If things keep going this way, the Government hopes to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021. Which, also happens to be the countries 200th anniversary of independence.
Ecotourism in Costa Rica
As of the early 90’s, Costa Rica has been known globally as the spot for ecotourism. As travel trends continue to grow and develop around the world, Costa Rican’s are keen to position themselves as the forerunner for the place to go to enjoy protected parks, sites and wildlife.
Take Cocos Island for example. A World Heritage Site, the island has become a famous spot for divers who can get a rare glimpse of life under water experiencing dolphins, sharks, tuna and rays.
While it’s taken it time to grow, Ecotourism has given Costa Rica a way to not only preserve natural areas but profit from it too. This increase in money coming to the country helps locals but also helps support the expansion of initiatives and protected sites around the country.
Tourists can engage in bird watching in Costa Rica’s cloud forests, relax at one of the many clean and beautiful beaches, hike the heights of a volcano or simply just take a break in of the countries many eco-lodges.
Costa Rica has been so committed to the act of eco-tourism and the benefits it can bring to its economy it has already committed an estimated 26% of its lands to national parks, protected lands and wildlife sanctuaries.
Looking to engage in Eco-friendly activities? Costa Rica is the place to go.
Costa Rica’s Environmental Policy and the Future…
With over half a million different species of animals, plants and a wide variety of protected national parks, Costa Rica has become the most dense bio-diverse country in the world. While things aren’t perfect, the Government’s ambition of promoting environmental sustainability has not only made the country a poster child for ecotourism but has seen it environmental efforts rewarded with the UN’s most prestigious award.
Only time will tell if Costa Rica can reach its goal to become the world’s first carbon-neutral nation by 2021.
But, with its continued efforts in generating energy from renewable sources, educating Costa Rica’s younger generations, the preservation of wildlife and national parks – things look very bright indeed.
While it’s taken an awful lot of talking and very little action, we are, finally starting to see things move in a more positive direction. Smaller countries such Costa Rica and New Zealand, while not huge economic powers like America or Germany, are leading this change.
It’s not all talk either. With hard facts and action to back up their words these countries are the role models for our future success. The kind of success that could determine the length of time the place we all call home – stays healthy.
And who knows, maybe in the future, measuring a countries success by hard cold profit might come second to measuring a countries ability to keep itself clean, green and sustainable.
If you want to know more about Costa Rica’s commitment to environmental stewardship, contact our office to check out the latest Eco Tours that are available to book for your next visit!
Only time will tell…