Photo: Heliconius doris Linnaeus butterfly of Costa Rica. Credit: Wikimedia Com-mons. - Photo: 2016

Costa Rica Setting its Sights on Sustainable Development

By Jose Rafael Quesada*

SAN JOSE (IDN) – Costa Rica, a small Central American country with a population of barely 5 million inhabitants, has a high human development index (ranking 69th worldwide) and is considered a consolidated democracy in Latin America.

High investments in education, good development of social security and high levels of openness and competitiveness in international markets make Costa Rica a candidate for membership of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

However, the country is still experiencing serious problems in the area of endemic poverty, a low level of efficiency in the construction of infrastructure, high levels of state indebtedness and high indicators of tax evasion.

As a result, Costa Rica has set itself the target of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, and has made fulfilment and implementation of the SDGs part of government strategy.

Above all, it is promoting a vision of the future based on the Agenda 2030 plan of action for people, planet and prosperity under sustainable development and the Montevideo Consensus on integrating population dynamics into rights-based sustainable development with equality.

The government is including SDGs in institutional planning and budgets, and is proposing guidance for institutions, the private sector, social organisations, the academic and scientific communities, and UN agencies for mobilising resources to implement SDGs.

A number of major sectors for action have been identified: human development and social inclusion; environment, energy, oceans and land use planning; agricultural and rural development; and tourism.

Human development and social inclusion: This includes the reduction of extreme poverty, through social and comprehensive care programmes for households and families headed by women and people with disabilities; reduction of social and territorial inequality through coordinating services, support networks and social and production infrastructural projects; and strengthening the capacities of people living in poverty to enter the labour market, improve their levels of employability and develop opportunities for entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Environment, energy, oceans and land use planning: The aim is to strengthen the conservation and sustainable use of genetic, natural and cultural heritage from a territorial and marine system based on concerted participation that ensures respect for and the exercise and enjoyment of human rights. Action is being encouraged actions to combat global climate change through citizen participation, technological change, processes of innovation and research, while promoting the efficient use of energy in order to maintain and improve the country’s competitiveness.

Agricultural and rural development: Costa Rica’s rural agricultural sector has witnessed a decline over the 40 years and now represents only 6 percent of GDP. To meet SDGs in this sector, the government is seeking to increase agricultural value added and give a boost to improvement of productivity and sustainable rural development. It is also to supporting the national goal of poverty reduction through actions to improve the living conditions of rural areas and foster the dignity of the rural population.

Tourism: Current strategy has led to uneven development of this key sector, marked by   serious differences in the distribution of income resulting from tourism. The government is now pursuing a strategy for sustainable, supportive and equitable tourism development.

Aware that simple adhesion to the principles of the SDGs alone is insufficient, Costa Rica is also taking steps to produce the necessary changes in the social context of the country for these goals to take effect and have a positive impact on the everyday and long-term situation of Costa Rican people.

Among others, action is being taken to define indicators for monitoring the country’s commitment to the SDGs and the Montevideo Consensus, and carry out awareness-raising activities with institutional representatives, NGOs and private companies on the SDGs and national development.

Having approved and published an Executive Order for implementation of the SDGs, the government is implementing regional and sectoral consultations to define country goals and indicators, as well as establish regional coordination mechanisms for consultations on programmes and objectives.

Finally, emphasis is being placed on raising awareness of and mainstreaming SDGs in the various objectives of the 2015-2018 National Development Plan.

* Jose Rafael Quesada is Deputy Mayor, Municipality of Montes de Oca, and President of the Humanist Party, Costa Rica. [IDN-INPS – 30 August 2016]

Photo: Heliconius doris Linnaeus butterfly of Costa Rica. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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