Monday, July 23, 2012

Swap Weapons For Trees

In 1948, soon after the greatest war civilization ever saw, Costa Rica decided to eliminate its military army as a political decision to fulfill two purposes: first, to guarantee that institutionalized armed forces would never intervene in domestic or international conflicts; and second, to redirect traditional military spending towards public needs such as education and health.

The experiment succeeded and the small Costa Rican nation became notorious, within its violent regional setting, as a nation of peace with high standards of health and education.

In 1979, a legal reform changed the way in which Costa Rica related to its forests. In few years, deforestation halted and payment for environmental services was introduced as an incentive towards conservation and reforestation.

Thirty years later, Costa Rica has managed to double its forest coverage, becoming a global leader in ecosystem conservation, sustainable tourism, biodiversity classification, payment for environmental services, and efforts towards neutralizing its carbon emissions, while at the same time tripling its GDP thanks to high value-added employment and low ecological footprint, such as services and advanced manufacturing, not forgetting world-class efficient agriculture.

Today, when humanity spends in excess of a trillion dollars per year in weapons and military equipment and personnel, when climate change represents an accumulation of social, economic and environmental costs, both present and future, whose adaptation requires, according to experts, some 100 billion dollars per year, it would be worth to consider Costa Rica’s successful sustainable development model. The money exists. What is lacking is the virtue and the courage to make the necessary decisions. 

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