Costa Rica’s Green Economy

A lot of economists and environmentalists around the world are looking at what the small Central American country of Costa Rica is managing to achieve, and asking ‘could we do the same thing here?’

Costa Rica has a strong history of progressive policies.

It abolished it’s armed forces permanently in 1949, and reallocated the money to education and health care, and is Latin America’s oldest democracy (since 1953). It is widely seen as performing well on issues of human development and equality, and was the only country to meet all of the UN’s five established criteria for environmental sustainability, now being ranked 5th in the world in terms of Environmental Performance Index and 1st in terms of the Happy Planet Index. It has plans to be the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2021.

How has it done it ?

Costa Rica produces over 90% of its electricity from a variety of renewable sources. 30% of the land area is held ‘in reserve’, as natural wilderness, and while many parts of the world have been subject to deforestation, Costa Rica has increased it’s forested area from 21% in 1987 to an impressive 52% in 2005, though land use pressures continue. Though agriculture remains an important part of the economy, high technology industries are increasingly important – attracted by Costa Rica’s well educated workforce and strong environmental credentials.

Costa Rica just like everywhere else has it’s problems, with development pressures, globalization and persistent poverty in several areas – but they are charting their own course, and so far seem to be doing rather well.

Photo by hotshotjen, via Flickr

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