6 Ways Costa Rica Leads in Sustainability | Omega

In addition to being one of the world’s Blue Zones (longevity hot spots), Costa Rica is also one of the world’s leading nations for ecological sustainability. While it faces environmental issues like poaching and illegal fishing, the small Central American nation continues to offer an example for others to follow.

Green Energy 
Thanks to hydropower and abundant geothermal power, and investment in wind and solar power, Costa Rica’s electricity is largely carbon neutral. In fact for a quarter of 2015, all of Costa Rica's electricity came from renewable sources. It is among a few other countries, like Germany, Iceland, and Switzerland, who are showing the rest of the world how to generate electricity without continuing to pollute the atmosphere.

Carbon Neutral by 2025
Electricity use is only part of a nation’s carbon emissions and environmental impact. Transportation in Costa Rica is still based on burning fossil fuels. The nation has taken the important step of pledging to be carbon neutral by 2021. If they reach their goal, they would be the first carbon neutral nation.

No Recreational Hunting
In 2012, Costa Rica became the first Central American nation to ban sport hunting. Under the law, which passed unanimously, violators can face up to four months in prison or fines up to $3,000. Prior to the ban, illegal hunting tours aimed at foreign tourists targeted jaguar, puma, and parrots and were priced at $5,000 per person. Hunting and fishing is still allowed for the local population, some of whom are dependent on it.

Saving Forests & Oceans
Over the past 25 years, Costa Rica tripled its gross domestic product while doubling the amount of forest cover. Currently, 30 percent of the forests in Costa Rica are nature reserves. In 2011, the country created the Seamounts Marine Management Area, a marine protected area larger than Yellowstone National Park. It surrounds Cocos Island off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and is second in size only to the Galapagos Islands protected area. 

The Only Greener Place Is Switzerland
Ranking nations as “greenest” is a nebulous business. Each index of environmental friendliness comes up with different results based on what’s prioritized in the calculations. Nevertheless, in 2013, according to the World Energy Council's energy trilemma index, Costa Rica was bettered only by Switzerland in balancing energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability with political, societal, and economic strength.

They're Happy & They Know It
Much like measuring environmental sustainability, measuring happiness is as much an art of interpretation as it is based on statistics and hard data. One of the prominent measurements of happiness is the New Economics Foundation's Happy Planet Index. Costa Rica has topped this list three times in recent years, achieving top scores in well-being and life expectancy. In the latest rankings (from 2012) Costa Rica was first out of the 151 nations examined in the survey.

© 2015 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies