Sustainability in Costa Rica

Hi, my name is Anaya Espadas and I am rising sophomore majoring in environmental engineering. I also plan on getting a Sustainability certificate, so I am beyond excited to embark on this trip to Costa Rica and learn first-hand about the country’s environmental initiatives. Coffee is something I have to come appreciate and rely on throughout my first year of college, so I am excited to learn about its journey from growth to consumption as well. But beyond sustainability and coffee, I am most excited for the ecotourism. I love doing any sort of outdoor activity (hiking, biking, running, etc.), so Tico tourism is right up my alley.

I was surprised to learn that Ticos are consistently world leaders in sustainability, but upon further research I gained more insight as to how they achieved this recognition. Costa Rica is quite progressive in terms of energy use, as their power is mostly carbon neutral. Through the use of geothermal, water, wind and solar power, the country relies very little on nonrenewable sources like coal or natural gas. They even pledged to be carbon neutral by 2021, but are facing challenges in the transportation sector as the majority of vehicles are powered by fossil fuels.

Costa Rica is currently working towards more sustainable agriculture, as they have come to see how necessary it is for continued success.  Agriculture accounts for about 6.5% of the GDP and 14% of the labor force, so unsustainable practices now will only limit future economic success. Overexploitation of natural resources along with excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers led to deforestation and the degradation of soil and water quality. In an effort to repair damages done as well as secure a future, many are adopting organic farming methods such as crop rotation, natural fertilizers and biological pest control. Overall, I have gained the impression that Costa Rica is ahead of our time in terms of sustainability, and hope to gain knowledge in country that I can bring back home to implement in my studies and lifestyle.


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