As reported by the BBC, Costa Rica made history Sunday, February 7th, with the election of its first female president, Laura Chinchilla, head of the National Liberation Party. Ms. Chinchilla, who won 47% of the vote, is committed to advancing open-market policies in the country. Also recently reported, a study by the New Economics Foundation, the Happy Planet Index, ranks Costa Rica in first place above all other nations as the most happy, making a connection between happiness and the health of the environment.
Costa Rica is a stable nation with a growing tourism industry and sound environmental policies, something that many people attribute to the nation's protection of their forests. As stated by the BBC, "more than half its territory is now covered in trees, compared to 20% in the 1980s." It is one of the only developing countries in the world rated so high in being happy and green when compared to other nations, and the two measures seem to be related. People profess to being more in-tune with the natural world, a characteristic integral for the active participation in environmental protecion.
Costa Rica was the first developing nation to commit to being carbon neutral by 2021, has implemented a carbon tax, and is currently getting 90% of its energy supply from renewable sources. Costa Rica is right on track for preserving their fragile environment. Yet there is room for improvement, since the government still allows open pit mining and the unfettered melon and pineapple growing by multinational corporations threatens the ecosystem through the use of many agrochemicals.
Hopefully the newly elected president will, in an effor to promote open-market operations, direct more attention to making the tourism industry in the area more eco-friendly as it promises to raise revenues while maintaining what seems to make Costa Ricans most happy, the health of the environment. One Costa Rican, Juan Francisco Montealegre, explains, "We don't have a sensation of death. Nothing is arid here, you can see life everywhere."
Referenced BBC reports:
Photo by Alex Villegas