Costa Rica Named ‘UN Champion Of The Earth’ For Role In Fighting Climate Change

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Costa Rica has received a 2019 Champions of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental honour, for its role in the protection of nature and its commitment to ambitious policies to combat climate change. 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognized Costa Rica in the policy leadership category.

A world leader in sustainability, the Central American nation has drafted a detailed plan to decarbonize its economy by 2050, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN’s’ Sustainable Development Goals. It hopes to provide a template for other nations to curb the deadly emissions causing rapid, disastrous climate change. 

Costa Rica’s success in placing environmental concerns at the heart of its political and economic policies is evidence that sustainability is both achievable and economically viable. 

“Costa Rica has been a pioneer in the protection of peace and nature and sets an example for the region and for the world,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. 

“Climate change demands urgent and transformative action from all of us. With its ambitious plans to decarbonize the economy, Costa Rica is rising to that challenge,” she added. “Global emissions are reaching record levels and we must act now to move to cleaner, more resilient economies. Cutting emissions is key and it is thrilling to see Costa Rica take such decisive steps in this direction.” 

Costa Rica’s National Decarbonization Plan was unveiled in February and includes bold mid- and long-term targets to reform transport, energy, waste and land use. The aim is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, meaning the country will produce no more emissions than it can offset through actions such as maintaining and expanding its forests. 

Already, more than 95% of Costa Rica’s energy is renewable and forest cover stands at more than 50% after painstaking work to reverse decades of deforestation. In 2017, the country ran for a record 300 days solely on renewable power. The aim is to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Seventy per cent of all buses and taxis are expected to be electric by 2030, with full electrification projected for 2050.

“Receiving the Champions of the Earth award on behalf of Costa Rica, its entire population, the past generations who protected the environment, and future generations fills me with pride and emotion for what Costa Rica has achieved and for what we can continue to do because we can achieve even more. I feel very proud to be Costa Rican,” said President Carlos Alvarado Quesada.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.