San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Conservation Leader Visits Country “To Learn”

THE president of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), Mohammed Valli Moosa, from South Africa, visited Costa Rica this week on a tour he described as educational for him rather than his hosts.


“This is one of the few places I’ve come not to preach but to learn about the environment,” Moosa said in a speech he delivered during a reception Monday night at the National Museum in San José.


Moosa arrived here Jan. 6 and left on Tuesday to Panama, where he will stay until Jan. 16, according to a statement from IUCN.


He met with President Abel Pacheco and Environment Minister Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Monday to discuss payment for environmental services, a program implemented in 1997 by the National Forestry Financing Fund (FONAFIFO) to give forest plantation owners financial rewards for the environmental benefits their forests provide.


Moosa said payment for environmental services has philosophical underpinnings relating to ownership of the atmosphere.


“THERE’S only one atmosphere. Who does it belong to?” he said in his speech, in which he criticized the United States for not signing the Kyoto Protocol, a multilateral agreement to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ratified by more than 140 countries (TT, Feb. 25, 2005).


The head of IUCN explained that although the United States houses only 4.5% of the world’s population, it produces 25% of the greenhouse gases that contaminate the atmosphere.


“Global problems can only have global solutions,” said Moosa, who has presided over the IUCN since January 2005. Moosa, former Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in South Africa (1999-2004) and of Constitutional Affairs and Development (1996-1999) during Nelson Mandela’s government (1994-1999), was a leader in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.


DURING his visit here, Moosa toured the country accompanied by Grethel Aguilar, IUCN regional director for Mesoamerica, Minister Rodríguez and Juan Marco Alvarez, regional advisor for IUCN. They visited the town of Sarapiquí, in north-central Costa Rica, where Moosa interviewed Mario Herra, a campesino who benefits from environmental services payments.


The IUCN, with headquarters in Switzerland, unites 82 countries, 112 government agencies, more than 850 NGOs and some 10,000 experts in what is considered the world’s most extensive conservation network, according to IUCN.


While its name, “World Conservation Union” was adopted in 1990, its original acronym is still used because the organization remains known to many as IUCN, which stands for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources – the name it used since 1956.


For more information, visit or call the regional office in San José at 241-0101.


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