Costa Rica has won a 2019 Champions of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental honour, for its pioneering role in fighting climate change.
The Central American nation was recognized by the UN Environment Agency in the policy leadership category for its role in protecting nature and its commitment to ambitious policies to combat climate change.
“Costa Rica has been a pioneer in the protection of peace and nature and sets an example for the region and for the world,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
“Climate change demands urgent and transformative action from all of us. With its ambitious plans to decarbonize the economy, Costa Rica is rising to that challenge,” she added. “Global emissions are reaching record levels and we must act now to move to cleaner, more resilient economies.”
In February, Costa Rica unveiled a detailed plan to decarbonize its economy by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to a press release announcing the award. The plan, which includes mid- and long-term targets to reform transport, energy, waste and land use, could serve as a template for other countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Today, more than 98% of Costa Rica’s energy is renewable, and its forest cover now stands at more than 53% after committed efforts to reverse decades of deforestation. In 2017, the country made headlines when it ran for a record 300 days solely on renewable power. The goal is to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
“Receiving the Champions of the Earth award on behalf of Costa Rica, its entire population, the past generations who protected the environment, and future generations fills me with pride and emotion for what Costa Rica has achieved and for what we can continue to do because we can achieve even more. I feel very proud to be Costa Rican,” said President Carlos Alvarado Quesada.
Costa Rica is among five Champions of the Earth this year. The other categories are entrepreneurial vision; inspiration and action; and science and innovation. The 2019 laureates were honoured at a gala ceremony in New York on 26 September during the 74th UN General Assembly.
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