San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Penny for Their Enviro Thoughts

What are the greatest environmental challenges that Costa Rica is facing?

“Without a doubt, the lack of environmental leadership from the government, which has demonstrated little environmental commitment and a lack of coherence between political discourse and actions.”

–Carlos Manuel Rodríguez

Former environment minister under

President Abel Pacheco and now regional vice

president of Conservation International.

“The principal challenge is to form a united front against the environmental policies that, instead of favoring the environment, only try to make space for megaprojects (hotel, mining, urban, marinas, etc.).”

–Alvaro Sagot

Environmental law professor at the Universidad

Nacional (UNA) and co-founder of environmental

group An Urgent Call for the Country.

“Significantly improving the operations of the national parks, giving more financial and human resources to these areas, regulating the disorderly growth on the coastal areas and implementing a marine agenda that results in expanded protected marine areas.”

–Jorge Jiménez

Regional director of ocean conservation NGO


“In the context of the globalized financial crisis, it’s predictable that there will be a more lax attitude from the government when deciding on projects with forecasted shortterm economic benefits, and projects where the environment could end up negatively affected. The conflict over oil exploration, open-pit metal mining, extensive pineapple monoculture, uncontrolled exploitation of tuna resources and the powerful urban growth produced in centers of development like Escazú and Jacó, will deepen.”

–Freddy Pacheco

Head of the biology department at Universidad


“We need to communicate to the generl public that the quality of life of our present and future populations is being put at risk in exchange for the comfort of a few. The great challenge is to recover the scientific and technical authority of our universities and NGOs, for public opinion to back up those criteria, and to minimize the affects of uncontrolled growth.”

–Gino Biamonte

Executive director of Wild Flora and Fauna

Preservation Association.

“Ensuring the right of every Costa Rican to a healthy environment. Everywhere we see environmental organizations recurring to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, and winning, to make sure this right is respected, because the executive branch is turning a blind eye in favor of private economic interests.”

–Randall Arauz

President of the Marine Turtle Restoration

Program (PRETOMA).

“Protecting its natural resources and not destroying them to favor a few businesses and projects. Appropriately valuing its natural resources and assigning the real price they represent and making those that damage it pay for polluting.”

–Gadi Amit

Founding member of Guanacaste Brotherhood.

How would you qualify the Oscar Arias administration’s management of the environment so far?

“I believe that the Arias administration owes us. Its environmental commitments in the political discourse have not translated into consequential actions.”

–Carlos Manuel Rodríguez

“Contradictory. It has conceptual achievements (like the Peace with Nature Initiative), but those have not translated into concrete results. Operational successes (like the actions of the Environmental Tribunal) are overshadowed by legislative proposals (like the redefining of the Las Baulas Marine Park).”

–Jorge Jiménez

What are some of its successes? Failures?

“It is worth recognizing the work of the Environmental Tribunal, which is doing exemplary work.”

–Carlos Manuel Rodríguez

“The principal errors of this administration have been the national convenience decrees that “facilitate” the destruction of the country (the cases of Las Crucitas, Punta Cacique and the La Cueva and Rio Piedras dams).”

–Gadi Amit

What should the government’s priority be?

Strengthening the Environmental Tribunal’s ability to act, and more coordination and agreement between the different agencies and policies that affect the environment.

–Jorge Jiménez

What are some actions you would recommend the government take?

“Eliminating the drag-net shrimp trawling fleet, closing the private docks where fishing products from the foreign fleets are unloaded, increasing the Isla del Coco National Park Protected Marine Area, severely punishing the pirates that are still pillaging the biological riches from the Isa del Coco, implementing mixed-use marine areas and consolidating the Las Baulas Marine Park.”

–Randall Arauz

“Allow free access to information, plan for development and allow everyone to know those plans, and … fire the corrupt.”

–Gadi Amit


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