By: Andrés Jiménez
Biologist of Natura
What is Costa Rica missing to become a 100% sustainable country?
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?
there is a lack of unity, consciousness and above all, sincere goodwill.
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.
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
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
The marine conservation problems in
the country are not much different from those of their counterparts at the
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
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
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.