CAF report highlights the biodiversity of Costa Rica, the risks it faces and the urgent need for natural capital preservation
(San Jose, 31 October 2023) CAF—Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean—gave a brief account of Costa Rica’s natural assets, actions and challenges, with respect to three specific areas: climate change impacts and the urgency of adaptation policies; greenhouse gas emissions and the need to contribute to global mitigation; and finally, ecosystems and biodiversity and the need to preserve natural capital – an area that is stressed requires urgent attention.
The proposals of the experts and researchers of the multilateral organization were outlined by the Executive President of CAF, Sergio Díaz-Granados, in presenting the Economy and Development Report (EDR) entitled: “Global Challenges, Regional Solutions: Latin America and the Caribbean in the Face of the Climate and Biodiversity Crisis”.
In Costa Rica, the report was presented at the Headquarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), due to the long-term partnership between CAF and the specialized hemispheric agency for agriculture and rural affairs, with a view to supporting their Member States in areas such as sustainability, food security and competitiveness, among others.
Díaz-Granados remarked that, “Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries of the world. More than 500,000 species have been identified in this small country, representing close to 4% of the world’s estimated species. However, much like the rest of the region, this biodiversity is under threat. CAF believes in the leadership, innovative creativity and pioneering response capacity that has propelled our Costa Rican brothers and sisters regionally and globally, and that has made this country a standard bearer in efforts to fight climate change and preserve biodiversity. Thus, we must protect our natural capital as a matter of urgency, as this is a key factor in the development process”.
On the other hand, the Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion – Mixed Institute for Social Assistance, Yorleni León Marchena, thanked CAF, “an organization with which we are working assiduously to strengthen this partnership that we hope will continue for many more years”. She defined climate change as “one of the issues that has pinned humanity against the ropes. Very few issues have backed us into a corner as much as climate change. Measuring it, understanding it and beginning to decide how to address this immense issue has not been a simple task for any of our countries or any of our authorities. We have been trying to gage the pulse of this issue for some time and it has not been easy to take decisions with respect this phenomenon that is affecting people who are experiencing poverty and extreme poverty and some regions of the country, in particular”.
Manuel Otero, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, stressed the importance of preserving the natural capital of Costa Rica and other countries in the hemisphere, through science-based policies. “The Americas is the world’s major food exporting region and contains 50% of global biodiversity. In addition to its valuable freshwater reserves and the effort that many countries have made to preserve and rehabilitate their soils, with the support of our Living Soils of the Americas initiative, the region is firmly positioning itself as the guarantor of the planet’s food, nutrition and energy security and its environmental sustainability. Agriculture is part of the solution to climate change, as farmers are the natural custodians of biodiversity”, he stressed.
Senior Economist in CAF’s Socioeconomic Research Directorate, Ricardo Estrada, was tasked with presenting the RED report in Costa Rica. He explained the challenges in preserving natural capital, pointing out that, “Changes in soil use are the main channel through which humans are degrading ecosystems and biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Approximately 39% of Costa Rica’s land area has been preserved in a natural or semi-natural state, a percentage that is below the LAC average (45%), but above the average of Mexico and Central America (27%). Change in soil use is closely linked to the agriculture sector: 33% of the surface area of Costa Rica is devoted to pastures and 15% to crops, whereas human settlements occupy 13% of the land area. Thus, there is a need to strengthen the agriculture sector, by promoting sustainable agriculture and food security”.
The impact of climate change is already becoming evident in Costa Rica and in the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. Therefore, there is an urgent need to implement adaptation policies, including nature-based solutions. To this end, the RED pointed out that “the increase in oceanic acidity and temperatures is affecting the region’s marine and coastal ecosystems (coral reefs, mangroves, estuaries, sandy beaches, among others). Moreover, 66% of Costa Rica’s coral reefs are at high or very high risk, due in part to the effects of climate change, coupled with the overuse of natural resources and also marine pollution. The deterioration in the coral reefs is affecting the adaptation benefits that they provide, for example their role as natural barriers that protect coastal areas from flooding”.
Finally, the report stressed the importance of contributing to global mitigation. For example, the RED researchers highlighted the fact that Costa Rica “is one of the pioneers in implementing decarbonization policies that are organized under a long-term National Decarbonization Plan (2018-2050). One of the most important components of the plan is the electrification of public and private transportation, as the transportation sector contributes significantly to Costa Rica’s Greenhouse Gas emissions (40% of the total)”.
The event was attended by representatives from the government, private, educational and scientific sectors, and also received the support of CAF’s Socioeconomic Research Directorate, headed by Ernesto Schargrodsky, and the bank’s Mexico and Central America Regional Division, headed by Rene Orellana Halkyer, who closed the presentation.
The mission of CAF—Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean—is to drive sustainable development and regional integration, by funding public and private sector projects and by providing technical cooperation and other specialized services. Established in 1970, it currently has 20 shareholder countries—18 in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Spain and Portugal—and 13 private Banks. It is one of the main sources of multilateral financing and an important generator of knowledge for the region. For more information see: www.caf.com.
IICA is the specialized agency for agriculture in the Inter-American system, with a mission to encourage, promote and support its 34 Member States in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.