Costa Rica Punches Above its Weight

Updated: Mar 16

When it comes to the environment, few countries rival Costa Rica in terms of action and ambition.


The tiny Central American nation is aiming for total decarbonisation by 2050, not just a “net zero” target. It has regrown large areas of tropical rainforest after suffering some of the highest rates of deforestation in the world in the 1970s and 1980s. Indeed, Costa Rica has the most successful forest management model on earth.


Costa Ricans play a major role in international environmental politics, most notably Christiana Figueres, who helped to corral world leaders into agreeing the Paris accord. Now, the country's president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, says the time is finally right for international agreement to tackle biodiversity loss and global heating, and has turned its attention to securing an ambitious international agreement.


In January, more than 50 countries committed to the protection of 30% of the planet’s land and oceans as part of the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, spearheaded by Costa Rica, which is a co-chair alongside France and the UK. The fact that tiny Costa Rica is co-chair is testament to the recognition of its pioneering work and history of leading by example.


The coalition hopes the target will become the headline aim for an international agreement on halting biodiversity loss for this decade, set to be negotiated in Kunming, China, later this year.


“Conservation is one of the key factors that scientists point out as relevant for protecting biodiversity and also for addressing the climate crisis. But working alone, it’s not as effective,” says Quesada.

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Costa Rica Leads the Way

Costa Rica has the most successful forest management model on earth. In the 1970s and 80s, Costa Rica had the highest deforestation rates in Latin America - but the next few decades saw the country halt her forest loss, initiate replanting and conservation efforts, and regrow almost all of her lost tree cover. More...