As an outsider with very little knowledge of Costa Rica, I was surprised to find out about the country’s role in sustainable practices, such as reducing carbon emissions and preserving forested areas. As it turns out, the country is recognized as 2nd in the world in “environmental sustainability” by the World Energy Council. Through the application of hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar power, a large portion of Costa Rican electricity use is considered carbon neutral. This means that energy use in Costa Rica is derived largely from renewable resources, reducing carbon emissions and limiting environmental impact. In fact, in 2015, the country went 94 consecutive days while only using 100% renewable resources… almost a quarter of a year. The country has boldly declared that it will be completely carbon neutral by 2021, a goal which would be impossible for most.
As amazing as Costa Rica’s plans of carbon neutrality are, their initiative extend far past emissions and fossil fuel use. Costa Rica is quite literally building a more “green” tomorrow by preserving naturally forested land and restoring trees to deforested areas. The nation’s payment for ecosystem services (PES) program aims to increase the percent of the country which is forested to an impressive 60 percent by paying small landowners to restore deforested areas. Honestly, upon hearing Costa Rica’s great strides in creating a more sustainable country, I cannot help but be disappointed in my own country’s lack of improvements in this respect. I am happy to hear that sustainability is a priority of Costa Rica’s government, and that the country is initializing programs to limit their environmental impact.
I am very excited to go to Costa Rica and experience the warm weather and delicious food. Costa Rica excels at producing two of my favorite things: fresh fruit and delicious coffee. I look forward to meeting my host family, practicing my spanish, and exploring a new country while learning about the coffee industry. While learning about sustainability in Costa Rica, I found that the vast majority of coffee growers refuse to use pesticides, leading to the best tasting, highest quality coffee plant. I can’t wait to find out what the world’s best coffee taste like!