Costa Rica hosted for the first time the IV World Forum of Low Carbon Cities, this past October 23 and 24 in the city of San José, whose objective was to disseminate knowledge and promote innovative solutions that collectively build new cities that are resilient to climate change.
Costa Rica, despite being a small country, is recognized worldwide for its fight in favor of environmental conservation issues and its implementation of the zero decarbonization plan for 2050.
It is worth mentioning that this event was attended by approximately 400 people, who shared their experiences and proposals on climate action in urban areas, as well as the walkability, electromobility, sustainable transformation, infrastructure, urban biodiversity and communication of climate change.
As for the point of promoting the construction of pedestrian spaces in cities, the founder of the Walk21 movement, Jim Walker explained, “Walkability is not only about how many people walk in one place but about the quality of places, if people enjoy walking, if they do it by choice and not because they have no choice”.
Experts on urban sustainability
The Forum discussed challenges that the planet is going through, with the participation of a panel of experts from different Latin American countries. Below we will mention some of their analysis:
• Natalia Lever from Mexico of “Climate Reality Latin America”, commented, “A level has been reached where we need urgent, unprecedented and extremely robust solutions, this means that solutions cannot come only from one of the pillars such as the Government, but we need everyone because each person has a role and needs to take action”.
• Gustavo Madrid, director of the architecture and urban planning company “eeTestudio”, also from Mexico said, “A street with green infrastructure is easier to walk, safe and better for health; for each peso invested, 20 pesos are returned in public benefits”.
• Patricia Fonseca of “Aecom” stated, “For every dollar invested in green infrastructure, trade sales are increased by $ 8; water gardens, green roofs, green facades are some examples”.
• Roberto Meza from “Sphera Sostenible”, said, “It is about encouraging the community to produce more than it consumes: for example, a building that generates more energy than it uses”.
This event was organized by the “Center for Urban Sustainability” (CPSU) and Low Carbon City. The first one is a non-profit non-governmental organization of Costa Rica, which was founded in early 2014, to achieve the transformation of sustainable communities and cities that ensure a quality of life for all people, focused on climatic action.
The executive director of the CPSU, Pablo Castro said, “Cities represent the greatest opportunity in climate action because they are the ones that consume the most resources and the ones that generate the most impacts and that is why when we talk about climate change we have to work on an urban agenda and not only on the green agenda, because we can’t achieve the goals”.
For its part, the “Low Carbon City Foundation” works for the collective construction of solutions that educate the population to generate changes with companies, governments, universities, and communities. Its director Juliana Gutiérrez, supported in this forum the initiatives for an education that calls for action and gave us an example the so-called “artivismo” (art and activism) deployed in the Colombian city of Medellín to raise awareness about air quality and put on the public agenda the need to decarbonize.
In this event, an important fact pointed out by the United Nations was published, indicating that cities worldwide occupy only 3% of the land. However, they represent between 60% and 80% of energy consumption and at least 70% of carbon emissions.
Both this Forum and others of the same nature that Costa Rica is carrying out have the same objective that is to promote the preservation of the environment and encourage sustainability initiatives.