Setting Sustainability Standards

Costa Rica’s environmental sustainability efforts have not gone unnoticed in recent years as they are ranked 2nd in environmental sustainability behind only Switzerland (Tico Times). My initial reaction of the country and its people are that they have extreme dedication to making their country as green as possible. Having lived in America my entire life, I do not see as much of an ongoing effort to make a cleaner society as it seems there is in Costa Rica. This was confirmed to me when I saw that the United States ranked (88) in the same ranking that Costa Rica obtained the number 2 spot. I am very impressed with what Costa Rica has done so far and am excited to see how they have come to achieve this and what their initiatives for the future are.

One major initiative that Costa Rica has taken is to try to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2021 (Tico Times). This means that they will release no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The way they are going about achieving this goal is by charging a voluntary tax to offset carbon emissions (worldwatch). The money from this will be used to fund conservation and reforestation in Costa Rica. I believe that this policy has a great deal of potential because I know that Costa Rican’s are a proud people and are and will be excited to create as green of a country as possible. Due to this, I could foresee this policy having great success and being eventually replicated in other regions of the world.

Another initiative that has been taken was the implementation of the payments for environmental services (PES) program (ourworld). This system thrives on the idea that economic well-being is linked with healthy ecosystems. The program provides financial incentives to landowners in exchange for exhibiting a more environmentally friendly contribution to the ecosystem. Having taken some economics classes at Pitt, I learned that people will act in their own self-interest and will not do what is better for the whole if it is less profitable. This is called the Tragedy of the Commons and that is exactly what this program combats and I think that presenting the argument that the economy will be better off with a healthier environment, the people of Costa Rica will really jump on board.

These are some of the national initiatives that have been taken in recent years. On the trip to Costa Rica, I am very excited to see if these programs have done what they are set out to accomplish or if they are not as promising as first perceived. I am also very intrigued to find out how other companies are trying to become more environmentally friendly in ways that are not nationwide. I am excited to see if there are other sustainability measures that could be taken to enhance an already very efficient system, or if there are existing solutions that can be infused throughout the country.   



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