Among the winners of the first Earthshot Prize on 17 Oct 2021 is Costa Rica, and as I find out more about the back story, it turns out that this small island nation has been on its way to a more sustainable future since the 1940s…
It all began in 1948, when, after a brutal civil war, Costa Rica abolished its army (!!! what a brave and transformational step to take) and started to invest in its people with free health care and education, in renewable energy with hydropower, in natural parks and ecosystem services, all while sustaining economic growth and looking after the wellbeing of her people.
A TED talk by Monica Araya in 2016 provides the history and argues for transformational, rather than incremental, change…radical change that is as important now as it was in 2016.
I’ve yet to find out in detail what happened in Costa Rica between 2016 and 2021 – The Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado announced plans to ban fossil fuels at his inauguration speech in 2018, and earlier this year, together with Denmark, founded a new alliance of nations, the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA).
But what I do know that in the week leading up to COP26 in Glasgow, we need all of the decision makers in attendance to carry the attitude Monica Araya displayed in 2016: ‘We can wean our economy from fossil fuels!“
(I am not suggesting that going electric with transport is the only way forward … electricity has to be generated sustainably and there are other options, such as hydrogen. What I am applauding is the can do attitude.)
Featured Image: screenshot showing Monica Araya delivering her TED talk – from YouTube