Environmental Sustainability in Costa Rica

It is surprising to me to find out that Costa Rica is one of the worlds 10 most environmentally sustainable countries. It surprises me because many of Costa Rica’s exports are natural such as coffee or fruit so I expected that deforestation to create farms or plantations could be an issue. Also Costa Rica is a fairly small country and it is a major tourist destination so I would think that industries caused from the large amount of tourists could create waste and pollute the environment. But now after conducting a small amount of research I have learned about the clever and necessary environmental protection initiatives the Costa Rican government put in place to preserve their beautiful country.

Over the last 25 years Costa Rica was able to triple its GDP while doubling the amount of protected forests. Now, almost a third of all forests in Costa Rica are nature reserves. This is interesting because the Costa Rican government was able to increase the value of its goods while creating more protected lands proving the country can continue to excel financially while keeping environmental protection as one of its main concerns. In addition Costa Rica banned sport hunting in 2012. The law was aimed to eradicate local hunting tours, some of which were illegal. Violators of this law can face jail time and hefty fines. Its clear that the Costa Rican government focuses on sustaining its natural lush environment as well as the wildlife that resides there.

One of Costa Rica’s most prominent programs is the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) which incentivizes industries to be environmentally sustainable. The CST program rates companies on how well they sustain Costa Rica’s environment, culture and communities. Companies can receive a score between 0 and 5 with higher scores given to more sustainable companies. This score allows consumers to be more knowledgeable of how environmentally friendly the products they buy are. The 0 to 5 scale is simple yet it allows consumers to make educated decisions when shopping or supporting certain brands or companies. On the other hand companies will strive to receive better CST scores so that consumers are more likely to buy their products over their competitor’s products. This simple initiative forces businesses to compete to improve their sustainability.

These laws and initiatives are what allow Costa Rica to consistently be a leading country when it comes to environmental sustainability. Although none of the programs I mentioned specifically mentioned coffee, the CST act applies to the Costa Rican coffee industry. Personally, I’m excited to go to Costa Rica for its food, good weather and of course coffee! I’ve been to Costa Rica once before but staying with a host family and participating in site visits is a completely new experience for me and it’s an experience I’m excited for.

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