Friday, September 12, 2008

Article published on China Daily today

Costa Rica stresses eco-environment

Comment on "Travel boom poses threat to Costa Rica's eco-environment" (China Daily, July 17)

Thanks to many key decisions taken during the last 35 years for conservation awareness and education on the importance of protecting its biodiversity and natural resources, Costa Rica now ranks fifth, according to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) developed by Yale and Columbia universities. Costa Rica's position is only behind Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Finland (Newsweek, July 7-14, 2008).

Costa Rica outranks major environmental powers such as Germany, New Zealand and Canada, at a time when climate change poses perhaps the greatest threat that modern civilization has faced. This translates into global leadership in tackling a conflict that affects us equally in our global community.

The EPI is a well-deserved recognition for a country that has doubled its forest coverage in the last 20 years and has more than 25 percent of its territory protected by conservation laws. Moreover, the country is home to the National Biodiversity Institute, a leading international institution dedicated to the protection of wildlife biodiversity as a sustainable way to develop rural and urban societies in harmony with the surrounding natural environment.

The state has also implemented an important measure providing a Certification for Sustainable Tourism. This certificate rewards socially and environmentally responsible companies that also maintained high levels of consumer satisfaction, while carefully identifying companies and agents that are genuinely sustainable.

One week after the publication of the EPI index, China Daily published the article "Travel boom poses threat to Costa Rica's eco-environment", on July 17, 2008. This fifth place on the EPI does not mean Costa Rica has no further room for improvement.

In fact, the Costa Rican government under the Oscar Arias administration has issued this year an executive decree to improve eco-development regulations. There are serious decisions that need to be taken in the near future, mainly targeted at improving even more the ecological condition of rich mineral water reservoirs, abundant fisheries and gorgeous scenic spots, like beaches, volcanoes, and rainforests.

President Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1987, presented last year The Peace With Nature Program, whose aim is to make Costa Rica the first carbon-neutral nation by 2021. This is a sound proof that Costa Rica is a country with accomplishments as well as goals in environmental performance. As he emphasized, "We shall not renounce life on the planet."

Antonio Burgues, Costa Rica's ambassador to China

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