Sustainability In Costa Rica: How The Country Is Leading The Way

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    Recently, Costa Rica was named the third-best green country in the world. With 99.2 percent of its energy use coming from renewable energy, the country has been widely praised for its approach to sustainability. Recently named the ‘UN Champion of the Earth’, Costa Rica has launched an impressive number of environmental credentials and has even been referred to as a template for cleaner living. So why is Costa Rica so successful in its planet-saving ambitions? Well, from tackling deforestation with a unique reward system to ample promotion of sustainable tourism around the country, here are a few ways Costa Rica is leading the way in sustainability and encouraging a more organic way of life.

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    Addressing Deforestation With PES Incentives And A Ban

    The Environmental Services Program (PES) launched in 1996 has been particularly successful at reversing the deforestation in the country in the last few decades. Comprising of incentives, rules, and regulations the scheme is a one-of-a-kind initiative. One of the most notable aspects of Costa Rica’s PES program is the payment of incentives to farmers for forest protection. 

    According to estimates from FONAFIFO, farmers are paid approximately $64 per hectare annually for basic forest protection. It also estimates that the country has spent around $500 million in incentives to farmers over the last 2 decades. In return, Costa Rica has managed to save more than 1 million hectares of forests and return land cover in the country to almost 60 percent.

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    As a tropical country, tourism is a major driver of economic growth for Costa Rica. By recognizing this and moving towards sustainable tourism, the country has essentially turned a major income source into an ethical and green one. So how does Costa Rica achieve this? Well, one of their initiatives is the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism program which helps tourists to plan their trip with sustainable businesses, including hotels, tourist destinations, and restaurants. Not only has this proved to be popular with general tourists but it has also proved incredibly handy for couples hoping to have eco-friendly nuptials since it can provide information on vendors with the CST certification. There is also the Blue Flag Ecological Program which ranks the country’s tourist spots like beaches or reserves.

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    The Provision Of Tax Breaks For Companies Championing Clean Travel

    Another way Costa Rica is promoting sustainability is through its incentives for the business community. The country provides ample tax breaks to companies who commit to sustainability in its operations- addressing another part of the sustainability puzzle: emissions from corporations. For instance, Costa Rica recently introduced new tax breaks in its Free Trade Zone program which allow businesses to capitalize on 0 percent income tax for 12-year renewable periods. Elsewhere, businesses that provide bike-to-work programs can also enjoy tax incentives. With the transport sector accounting for 40 percent of emissions, the new legislation is expected to have a significant impact on Costa Rica’s model for total sustainability

    Costa Rica’s efforts don’t stop there either. The country’s Environment and Energy Minister, Andrea Meza was the one to write the country’s decarbonization plan in 2019. The country also remains committed to its plans to reach carbon emissions by 2050. By the end of 2020, plans were underway to achieve the first stage of its decarbonization plan. The Minister- and government of Costa Rica- knows that time is running out. They are committed to racing against the clock.

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