Costa Rica’s track record on economic, social and environmental issues is second to none. It has strong comparative advantages, from its skilled and educated population to its political stability, and from its robust economy to its abundant natural resources. It has weathered numerous financial and economic storms and remains competitive on the global stage. Therefore, Costa Rica is regarded by many as an economic and environmental success story, with an admirable record of ‘green growth’—economic growth that minimizes pollution and uses and manages resources efficiently. Yet Costa Rica is also a victim of its own success: its leadership in some areas may have blinded it to its green growth gaps. As Costa Rica approaches a crossroads in its economic and environmental journey, its choices could provide the model for others to follow.This report looks at concrete results of green growth in Costa Rica, rather than listing policies and projects. It examines the root causes of under-performance, the synergies between the country’s economy and environment and prospects for future progress in both domains.
ODI’s analysis highlights the deep structural challenges to the organisation of Costa’s Rica’s economy. We also, however, suggest some ‘quick wins’ that will propel Costa Rica towards long-term approaches to better align its economic and environmental performance. These include four primary recommendations: