Sustainability in Costa Rica

            Costa Rica has emerged as a global leader in environmental sustainability, ranking second in the World Energy Council’s global “environmental sustainability” ranking.  I think it is fascinating that Costa Rica is the only Central American country ranked in the top 20, because it seems they are taking on this initiative by themselves (they are not relying on any other Central American country for help).  This is a testament to the nature of the citizens of Costa Rica, known as Ticos, because they take great pride in their country and are willing to do whatever it takes to make their country the best.    I find it impressive that a small country like Costa Rica has taken great lengths to become a leader in sustainability.  I cannot wait to go to Costa Rica and see how their approach to the environment differs from that in the United States!

            The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) is one of Costa Rica’s major sustainability initiatives.  The Certification for Sustainable Tourism is a long-term program that focuses on businesses’ compliance with sustainability standards.  Each business is given a rating based on measures ranging from “the interaction between the company and the surrounding environment” to “the degree to which the company allows their clients to become active contributors in sustainable policies.”  This program has been very successful in making business practices more sustainable as it provides sustainability information to customers when they are purchasing a product.  Due to the pride that Ticos take in their country, they will most likely buy the product that was made in a more sustainable manner.

            Another one of Costa Rica’s main sustainability initiatives is to be carbon-neutral by 2021.  Currently, 98 percent of Costa Rica’s energy comes from renewable sources, with a large percent of that coming from hydroelectricity.  This means Costa Rica is not far away from achieving their goal of limiting carbon emissions, which has motivated many businesses to implement sustainable practices.  For example, Café de Costa Rica has implemented a program known as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action, which allows coffee to be sustainably produced in a variety climates.  This program has been very successful so far and hopefully Costa Roca’s goal to limit carbon emissions will be achieved soon!

            The Payments for Environmental Services is a third sustainability initiative that Costa Rica has taken.  In the middle of the 20th century, deforestation was prominent as farmers thought the land would be fertile.  However, the land became unsuitable for farming and the Ticos realized their mistake.  The Payments for Environmental Services is one of the programs that addresses the effects of deforestation.  This initiative says that if individuals promote environmentally healthy practices, they will receive direct payments from the government.  These practices include adopting “forest management practices, maintaining clean water,” and many more.  This program allows the government to pay Ticos to reforest the country.

              I am excited to go to Costa Rica and observe the sustainability initiatives first hand!  I was unable to find a sustainability initiative that relates specifically to coffee, but I found that many individual companies in the coffee industry are starting to implement programs that promote sustainability, such as Café de Costa Rica and Doka.  



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