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Costa Rica's Steps to Being a More Sustainable Country

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In an ever changing and progressively green society all humans, including Costa Ricans are finally adapting to the constant changes to the social, economic and financial benefits of becoming greener. Although not perfect, Costa Rica is making very notable moves towards becoming a more sustainable country. In San Jose, the capital, the largest issue for Costa Rica is carbon emissions, they are the one of the highest emitters within the Central American nations per capita, just behind Mexico and Brazil where combined make up 52.6% of the regional usage (UNFCCC, 2019).

Carbon dioxide is known to be the biggest contributor to global warming as it creates already excessive greenhouse gas, leading to an increased amount of heat which causes ice and glacier melting then causing flooding. An example of high CO2 outside of the countries mentioned earlier is Portugal, where their greatest environmental challenge is flooding. In order to combat this, the Costa Rican government has introduced a plan to neutralize and reduce the CO2, hoping by 2050 having all cars and buses on the road electric (UNFCCC, 2019). To in-turn implement policy and infrastructure changes to reinvent the recycling and composting systems. “Decarbonization is the great challenge of our generation and Costa Rica must be among the first countries to achieve it, if not the first”, said Costa Rican President, Carlos Alvarado Quesada. In terms of concrete goals within the agreement, Costa Rica defines battling CO2 in six different ways: transportation, energy, industry, agriculture, recycling, and forest management. Their major greenhouse emitter is transportation, which is why it is Carlos Alvarado’s first plan of attack, by 2035 Costa Rica is looking to make 70% of all private and public transportation electric, and by 2050 decarbonizing all transportation (UNFCCC, 2019). In terms of energy, the plan outlines to reach 100% renewable sources of power by 2030, currently at 95% (UNFCCC, 2019). Some other focus areas where Costa Rica is looking to make change can be seen through their plan. ‘Promotion of highly efficient agricultural food systems’ and ‘Consolidation of an eco-competitive livestock model based on productive efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gases’ are just 2 of the 10 focuses that Costa Rica will tackle. If this strategy does work, Costa Rica will see a dramatic increase in economic, social and environmental change for the better, which will hopefully induce Central America as a whole to start taking greater initiative.

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The parallelism between the relationship of a countries economy and their environmental health is extremely prevalent especially in today’s ecosystems. In order to achieve simultaneous efficiency, it takes strong policy, infrastructure and massive funding to reap the benefits. Another system that they have in place is called the Environmental Services Payment System (PES). PES is defined as, “a national payment program for carbon storage, hydrological services, and the protection of biodiversity and landscapes” (CBD.INT, 2019). The PES network has been esteemed for its miraculous mitigation of deforestation in Costa Rica spanning since the early 2000’s where at point was one of the world’s highest negative deforestation countries (CBD.INT, 2019). In order to mitigate the excessive use of green ecosystems and companies abusing the forest life, Costa Rica has implemented many great policies within the plan that allows innovating new ways for mutual benefit for landowners, leading to a healthier green ecosystem. The network provides the owners of the land with direct payment from the Costa Rican government when they use their land for good and not commit any type of negative behavior that may result in deforestation or overall sustainability (Malavasi & Kellenberg, 2002). This is innovative and revolutionary in many ways, it encourages land owners to start or continue using the land ethically. This leads to an overall increase of green health because now the provided incentive will null illegal behavior to in turn, improve the whole countries health. In conclusion, the PES network is an ingenious and innovative way to tackle deforestation in a mutually benefiting way that will pay its dues in the long-term where hopefully forest life is continuously thriving and beneficial.

Finally, an adaptation strategy that Costa Rica can implement would be creating policy and extensive marketing campaigns that leads to better use of water and cutting down water consumption. In Israel, their water consumption has been internationally recognized. The country's water reuse program is a framework where 80% of their water is recycled and reused (Reuters, 2010). In order to adopt these strategies Costa Rica will need to analyze what Israel is doing so well, as well as investing in water technology that can lead to potentially recycling 95% of water. Israel exports 2.2 billion worth of water technology to various places in the world, they also have 250 water reservoirs that has also been responsible for raising their water reuse from 5% to 80% (JPost, 2017). Investing in these can vastly increase Costa Rica's agriculture and water consumption. Along with this, Costa Rica can implement educational programs to teach the youth on why conserving water is so important. In Israel, platforms, like ‘Green Horizon’, are set in place to be an educational piece that teaches children on water reservation. Talia Tzour Avner, Israel's chief emissary put it best: “Our main purpose is to expose participants to water challenges and solutions of the State of Israel” (Jpost, 2017). In conclusion, attacking the water shortage issue in San Jose with innovative and proven technology is something that can lead to long-term sustainability, as well as supplying Central American allies on how to improve it, leading to exponential improvement.

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Costa Rica’s Steps to Being a More Sustainable Country. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from
“Costa Rica’s Steps to Being a More Sustainable Country.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023,
Costa Rica’s Steps to Being a More Sustainable Country. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Dec. 2023].
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