After two years of research, Costa Rica has produced a remarkable national "Strategy for Sustainable Development." Costa Rica already has a lot going for it – it is a fiercely democratic country, maintains no army, and spends the money that would go to the military on education and health care. Moreover, eleven percent of its tiny land area has been preserved in national parks and forests.
But it also has problems: a big foreign debt and a stagnant economy. Costa Rica imports all its oil; the only indigenous energy resources are hydropower and biomass. Its population growth rate has actually increased lately, from 2.6% to 2.9%. And outside the national parks, even to some extent inside them, the forests are disappearing, the pastures are overgrazed, and the land is slipping off the mountains into the rivers and down to the sea. No other country has a comparable Strategy for Sustainable Development – but this is a country that surely needs one.
It would be wonderful if the Costa Ricans can again turn their country into a showcase – this time not only of a demilitarized democracy that works, but an environmentally sustainable one as well.