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World’s Best Environmental Performance, says CNN

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Costa Rica is the highligh of a recent edition of CNN’s Call to Earth series. The article reports on environmental challenges facing the planet and noteworthy actions taken to resolve them.

It is not the first time Costa Rica is recognized on the world stage. The country’s efforts to advance environmental protection and related sustainability issues are leading  global examples. 

Costa Rica’s dedication to environmental conservation has had a positive impact on tourism, according to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT). Global interest in visiting the country is growing steadily. In early 2023 international flight arrivals reached near pre-Covid 19 levels. 

The ICT claims that 75 percent of the people arriving in Costa Rica travel for vacation, pleasure, and leisure. While only 13 percent do so for professional and business purposes.

 

Environmental sustainability in Costa Rica

Costa Rica didn’t always protect its natural resources. The years between 1940 and the 1970s saw a major depletion of the nation’s forests. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the country’s move toward environmental stewardship began.

Initially the government urged citizens to transform their “unproductive”  lands into productive ones by clearing forested land to raise cattle and crops. 

Despite the high profit margins associated with cattle ranching, the governement recognized the risk posed by deforestation. In the early 1990s, the government conducted an economic analysis of the benefits of promoting healthy ecosystems and launched positive actions to reverse the growing deforestation rates. 

Several environmental policies were also introduced. Among them was the creation of its national park system and the promotion of ecotourism.  

 

Costa Rica’s territory and national parks

Over the past three decades, Costa Rica has become a world leader in sustainability across many sectors. Particularly for its success at tying tourism to the growing global environmental movement.

In 1994, the right to a healthy environment was included in the nation’s constitution. And today, over 30 percent of its land and marine territories are protected as national parks, refuges, and reserves. 

Reforestation efforts have also succeeded in increasing forest coverage from 25 to more than 50 percent.

 

A remarkable National Park System 

Costa Rica rainforests, cloud forests, and tropical dry forests are among the six types of forest ecosystems under national protection. Each harbors a vast network of plants and wildlife. By conserving these delicate ecosystems Costa Rica has become one of the 25 megadiverse countries on the planet.

CNN states that Costa Rica, as “home to one of the largest numbers of species in absolute numbers— has had a positive impact on tourism, which today is a key source of income for the country.”

Consider the Osa Peninsula’s tropical rainforests on the south Pacific Coast. According to National Geographic magazine, Corcovado National Park is one of the most biologically intense places on earth in terms of biodiversity.   

Then there’s Cahuita National Park on the Caribbean Coast. It is one of the country’s first to offer a handicap-accessible beach. The park also protects pristine coral reefs and countless marine species in its nearshore waters.  

 

National Parks and tourism

Ecotourism is a proven method for securing the economical upkeep of wild areas while integrating a nation’s people and heritage.

Tourists to the Caribbean side of the country are treated to a rich blend of local cultures. The Caribbean region has several national parks as well as vast indigenous territories. This union of nature with Latin America and the Caribbean ethnicities provides a fascinating experience for visitors. 

Manuel Antonio National Park is another case where environmental protection has a major impact on tourism. Bordering the Central Pacific Coast, the park is known for having some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. 

Its quaint Costa Rican community, proximity to the capital city, and easy access has made it one of the most visited national attractions. 

 

Costa Rica’s magic recipe

CNN explains how Costa Rica is able to do what so many other South America and Latin American countries hasn’t. It wasn’t a magic formula that transformed the little Central American nation into what it is today. It was the union of laws and economic incentives under one well defined program.

One example is the Payments for Environmental Services Program (PES). After the government passed a logging ban for unauthorized lands in 1996, it launched a system that would give forest owners and holders payment for their environmental services. 

The payments for positive land management under the PES cover four categories: limiting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting biodiversity, protecting waters, and ensuring a beautiful landscape.

The United Nations notes that Costa Rica’s PES is the first program of its type in the country and Central America region. Approximately $524 million has been invested in PES projects to date. These funds benefit 18,000 families with over 1.3 million hectares of land tied to PES contracts. 

 

Costa Rica’s Sustainable Development commitment

The United Nations gave Costa Rica the Champions of the Earth award in 2019. The honor recognizes the country’s efforts to protect the environment and combat climate change, among other actions. 

In addition, Costa Rica’s long-term sustainable development strategy aims to eliminate the use of fossil fuels by 2050. The move is strengthened by the fact that the nation already gets 99 percent of its electricity from renewable energies. 

Hydro, wind, and geothermal energy are generated across national territory. And with a growth in private solar energy production, the country may likely supersede the 100 percent mark in the near future. 

 

The world’s happiest people

Costa Rica was deemed the world’s happiest country in Latin America in 2021. CNN’s Call to Earth adds that it is Costa Rica’s generally positive attitude that extends to its citizens’ respect for nature. 

Take Pura Vida, for example.  The national slogan is much more than a greeting, claims CNN.. “…it is also an attitude of gratitude and personal peace with the environment that surrounds them.” 

 

Adobe Rent a Car’s sustainability commitment 

We at Adobe Rent a Car support the nation’s efforts to protect the environment. We believe that preserving the environment is a priority that should not be overlooked.

We began participating in the ICT’s Ecological Blue Flag Program in 2012. We earned five out of five stars two years in a row by implementing targeted goals in water, electricity, fuel, waste management, and other actions.  

Our sustainable practices also target our employees and the communities where we work. As a 100 percent Costa Rica-owned and operated company, we hire locally. We also participate in social projects to improve the wellbeing and living conditions of neighboring communities. 

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