Thanks to the conservation of its forests, Costa Rica will invest over the next 5 years US$ 54 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which recognized, in November 2020, 14.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide captured between 2014 and 2015 for the country’s forests.
The resources will be executed by the REDD + Results-Based Payments project, led by the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica (MINAE) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which was officially launched last Monday, May 24th.
The virtual activity was attended by the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado; the Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza; the UNDP resident representative in Costa Rica, José Vicente Troya; the administrator of the UNDP, Achim Steiner; the executive director of the Green Climate Fund, Yannick Glemarec; the president of the organization Defensores del Bosque, of Talamanca, Maricela Fernández, and Francisco Morales, president of the Talamanca Cabécar Development Association.
The funds from the GCF -in whose mobilization UNDP supported Costa Rica- will be directed in 3 areas: strengthening the existing Payment for Environmental Services (PSA) scheme; expanding the coverage of PES in indigenous territories, strengthening forest fire prevention measures in rural communities, and ensuring the application of environmental and social safeguards provisions.
The project will improve and expand public policies related to the implementation of the Forestry Law in Costa Rica, climate action, conservation and empowerment of rural women, young people, indigenous peoples and small and medium agricultural producers, during the next 5 years.
The President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, highlighted that the investment of US$ 54 million from the Green Climate Fund – in recognition of the capture of carbon dioxide by Costa Rican forests – will have a great impact on strengthening and Expansion of the coverage of the Environmental Services Payment Program.
The president recalled that the PSA “is one of the reasons why the country has managed to reverse deforestation and increase forest coverage significantly; one of the few in the world that has it. By the 1980s, Costa Rica had lost most of its primary forest and only had 21% of its land under forest cover as a result of having the highest deforestation rates in the world. Today, the country has a forest cover of 52% and protects more than a quarter of its territory”, he stressed.
At the same time, he pointed out, the project will help accelerate the path of decarbonization and inclusive economic recovery, through social protection for historically excluded populations such as indigenous peoples and rural women.
Out of the total resources, US$ 41 million will be transferred to inhabitants of the country’s forested areas, where some of the most marginal districts and with the lowest social development index are located, such as the coastal regions and areas wooded in general.
As for rural women, recent modifications have been made to the PES scheme, developed by the National Forestry Financing Fund (Fonafifo), to expand their possibilities of participation. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC), from the beginning of the PES Program from 1997 to 2017, only 15.1% of the total contracts were signed with women and 16% of titled farms belonged to women (12,598 compared to 68,389 registered in the name of men).
Green, fair, and inclusive recovery
Andrea Meza Murillo, Minister of Environment and Energy, commented that Costa Rica has a long history of balancing the environment with the creation of green jobs, based on forestry and biodiversity laws and programs.
“Conservation efforts have managed to preserve our ecosystems, while providing sustenance to citizens. Incentives such as these encourage the participation of key stakeholders in reducing emissions and institutional actions to address the main factors that affect deforestation and forest degradation. From MINAE, we will continue supporting the work of green entrepreneurs, indigenous peoples and women’s groups that contribute significantly to the conservation of forest ecosystems”, she said.
For his part, the UNDP Resident Representative in Costa Rica, José Vicente Troya, stressed that “Costa Rica faces the challenge of implementing a strategy to address the COVID-19 emergency, which allows protecting the most vulnerable groups of the population from while efforts are being redoubled to support the transition to a green economy. UNDP is proud to work with the country to promote human rights and to decouple the financing of environmental protection from the public sector from income from the consumption of Once again this country shows the world that a green, fair and inclusive recovery is possible and profitable, “he said.
During the last 25 years, Costa Rica has maintained a PSA scheme with an investment of more than ¢ 15 billion per year. With the actions of the strategy and the REDD + Results-Based Payments Project, the protection and sustainable management of forests will be expanded to more than 500 thousand ha of private forests, including approximately 150,000 ha in Indigenous Territories.
“It is a historic moment. The culmination of incredible efforts by communities throughout Costa Rica to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with deforestation, making the country a huge ‘carbon sink”, said the UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
For his part, Yannick Glemarec, executive director of the GCF, emphasized that “this project shows that it is possible to face the climate crisis and, at the same time, support vulnerable communities to build sustainable livelihoods, reduce poverty and promote gender equality”. The project will specifically contribute to maintaining the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation at a level of 6 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year, until 2024.
This project will also bring relief to the country’s successful PES scheme, following budget cuts due to the situation of public finances, as well as a reduction in the collection of the fuel tax, which represents 93% of the annual revenue of this program led by Fonafifo.