Costa Rica is widely known for its sustainability efforts which are a very important part of their communities’ daily lives. At a quick glance, the initiatives provided throughout the country promote growth in some of its main industries: agriculture and ecotourism. This definitely contributes to my perception of the country as an outsider. Not only is it impressive for such a small country to be so devoted to preserving the environment, but it is also logical for them to do so considering how this affects their economy. Costa Ricans rely heavily on agriculture and ecotourism as a major source of income. The Costa Rican government provides numerous opportunities for both companies and individuals to be rewarded through living a healthy lifestyle and protecting the environment.
The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (or CTS) encourages businesses to consider their long-term impact on the world around them. This program analyzes companies based on how well they comply with sustainability standards and gives them a rating from 0 to 5. This rating allows customers to take into consideration of how the items they are purchasing from a company affect the environment and the community which in turn can help or hurt a business. Another important program is the Blue Flag (or Bandera Azul) program. A community is awarded a Blue Flag if they maintain a healthy, clean, and safe environment in the surrounding natural areas which include different categories for beaches, watersheds, forests, and towns. This allows everyone in the community to get involved. Individuals who own land can also receive payments from the government for taking care of their property and maintaining healthy, robust land through the Payments for Environmental Services (or PES) program. Landowners receive these payments for the service that the land provides for the country such as providing an area for ecotourism or recreation, having clean water, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All three of these initiatives are great ways for everyone in Costa Rica to maintain a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
I think these programs provide a great framework for communities and has allowed the country to reach the high standard of consistently being one of the top ten most sustainable countries on the World Energy Council’s global ranking. I am really excited to experience this type of environment, and I am very interested in witnessing how the daily lives of my host family differ from my own in terms of sustainability as well as culture. I am also excited to speak Spanish with my host family and eat lots of delicious food. Overall, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to a new country and experience its culture while also learning about the coffee industry.