Thursday, July 31, 2008

Environment Performance Index - Costa Rica's success

The recently published Environment Performance Index, created at Columbia and Yale Universities, presents a graphic image of today's human development. In days when Climate Change is quickly becoming the gravest conflict our civilization has faced, leadership is color green.

This is not an ideological proposition. EPI shows different shades of green among countries that are at the forefront of environmental conservation.

Costa Rica appears in fifth place, as a result of thirty years of prioritizing environmental protection, bio-education and research and development in biodiversity. Besides, eco-tourism has become one of the country's main sources of income, with nearly 2 million foreign visitors this year, on a country with a population of 4.5 million.

Global conflicts demand global leadership. President Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1987, launched in 2007 the program Peace with Nature, which sets the challenging goal of making of Costa Rica the first carbon-neutral country in the world by 2021. That is, to be the first country that manages to mitigate internally all the carbon it generates to the environment.

This will be accomplished through reforestation, a policy that has doubled the country's forest land in the last 20 years. Only in 2007, Costa Rica planted 5 million trees, becoming the country with the highest per capita reforestation rate in the world. The goal is to plant 10 million new trees by 2010.

Also, over 90% of Costa Rica's electricity is generated from renewable sources, predominantly hydroelectric power. With nine active volcanoes in our 51,100 square kilometers of land area, geothermal energy has huge potential in Costa Rica. This is not only renewable, but also clean energy as well.

Located at 9 degrees North above the Equator line, Costa Rica is one of the best places on Earth for solar panel farming to generate solar energy. And with 1500 kilometers of coastal line, it is one of the countries with a better ratio of area to coastal land, which means it has great potential for ocean tide electricity generation as well.

Green is the new color of development. Green will be the leaders that will help the world transform the global conflict of Climate Change, better sooner than later.