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By: Andrés Jiménez Monge

Biologist of Natura Cultura Foundation

What is Costa Rica missing to become a 100% sustainable country?

The country has extraordinary natural resources, a good number of eco-oriented laws, numerous pro-sustainability organizations and generous international support at its disposal...What, then, is missing?

Basically there is a lack of unity, consciousness and above all, sincere goodwill. 


For the Oscar Arias successor taking office the 8th of May, a host of large challenges await due to the fact that her predecessor strongly preached environmental protection in his speeches but rarely included it in his actions.


By contrast, Mrs. Chinchilla has already included people with scientific background and experience in the field of conservation on her team. This is important because in Costa Rica many of the environmental mistakes have happened as a result of bad and uneducated decisions.  In the last few decades, many positions that require technical knowledge have been doled out for political reasons, and in turn filled by people without the appropriate credentials. 



What should be done in land?                                                                                

The environmental challenges in land are ample, so it is necessary to prioritize.  These are a few suggestions…


Solid waste management:  This is a well-identified problem and it can be resolved with little effort.  It is inconceivable that an eco-friendly country such as this still does not have a national recycling system and is still dependent on deficient sanitary landfills. When talking about a national system I’m referring to the creation of interconnected channels that permit the transformation of industrial waste from one industry into raw material for another. A system that allows us to transform a good part of our garbage into a productive resource, whether it is in the form of actual material or as a source for clean energy.


The creation of a network of corridors to guarantee biological movement: Hundreds of species are at risk due to the fact that they are confined to small patches of protected land or conserved areas. These protected areas can function as double-edged swords when isolated from one another.  It is analogous to simple flowerpots, that is, a beautiful sample of vegetation but with few animal species and low genetic diversity. By placing barriers such as agricultural areas, highways and cities, we prevent the population to cross breed, diminishing their genetic diversification and harming the adaptability and survival of the species. 


Territorial regulations:  The National System of Sustainable Development explains it clearly: There cannot be sustainable development without the knowledge of the conditions necessary to maintain and support ongoing efficient production.

The ecological efficiency in Costa Rica will improve with the increase of systematic action based plans and strategies. The use of environmental indicators and thorough knowledge of all attributes of the ecological units affected are vital to ongoing sustainability. 

Providing economic viability to the System of Protected Areas. 

Many economists talk aboutconservation areas as a dead weight that our economy carries, while many others defend and highlight the direct and indirect economic benefits that these areas generate for the country.

The reality is that the great tourist jewel of Costa Rica, its parks, are at risk. The pressure on the productive activities of its borders is intense.  Without adequate buffer zones or sufficient staff, woodcutters and hunters are quickly reaping havoc. The Achilles Heel of SINAC (National System of Areas of Conservation) is the payment of pending expropriations and an urgent remedy is needed here.  Today, many former owners are demanding that the state pays them what it is owed for their land, or that the state gives their land back to them. We must redefine the added value that these lands give to the country and improve their profitability, for instance, through a larger participation by SINAC in the tourism of said areas. 

Moving Costa Rica toward a green economy:  In the coming years, the country should re-analyze their paths and plans to ensure that organizational efforts are focused on generating an economy that consists of green energies clean technologies, and environmental investments.

That should be the direction of Costa Rica! Why insist on competing with products and markets that are already being exploited when there is a market niche with little competition and for which we already have the best raw material available?



The challenges in our oceans.    


By Damián Martínez

Marine biologist

Keto Foundation


The marine conservation problems in the country are not much different from those of their counterparts at the continental level. 

The multiple-headed Hydra, who grows more heads for each one that she loses, is comparable to the improper management of our environment and its domino effect on our country’s resources. The lack of political commitment in a country “With no Artificial Ingredients” borders on ridiculous. Changing this paradigm will be the great challenge of the new administration.


It’s time that the government assumes its proper role in the marine conservation arena and assumes that most of Costa Rican citizens want their nation to be a green country and not an industrial potentate. 

Enough already with the two-faced speeches.  While the entire country, organized in hundreds of conservation groups, tries to defend the Coco’s Island, the leatherback turtles, the national parks, the sharks, corals, whales and non-commercial fishing and its culture, their progress is continually frustrated by INCOPESCA, MINAET and the municipalities.  While the entire country asks for a green path, the state has opted to satisfy a few industrialist friends.

It would be great if the new administration realizes that the day that they really add conservation to their agenda, it will have all the environmental organizations, a good portion of the productive sectors and the vast majority of the citizens of this country as its allies.



Enough already with the slogan “Peace with Nature” if its only purpose is for propaganda. 

Enough already with candidates and environmentalists that use nature as a political platform. 

Enough already with the interests of a few corporations carrying more weight than the wishes of the large majority of the Costa Rican people.


Her predecessors have lacked good will and respect for those who elected them.

It is our hope that this administration will be much firmer and more honest with the environment.




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What else would you like to see in Utopia Magazine? 

Things to do in Costa Rica

Golf in Guanacaste 

Tico Glossary Catalinas island 

Barra Honda Caves

Rincón de la Vieja

Diving in Guanacaste


Marina Papagayo Medical tourism

What does Pura Vida means? 

MAPS Ecology   Culture   

Hotels in Costa Rica Birds

watching guide MarineTurtles 

Playas del Coco NationalParks 

Transportation guide 

Humpback Whales 


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