Greg S. Kowalski
Sustainability Studies student
In this post I would like to address where and how Costa Rica ranks in terms of sustainability. As I have stated in the past, they are one of the most sustainable countries in the world, but how do they compare with other countries in their region, as well as, larger wealthier countries. According to The Tico Times, Costa Rica ranks number two on the list for “environmental sustainability,” right behind Switzerland. This is one of the three categories the World Energy Council, uses to determine global energy sustainability, the other two are energy security and energy equity — together they make up what is called the energy trilemma. Let’s take a look at what each of these three mean. First is energy security, which is mainly managing your main energy supply, the safety and reliability of your infrastructure, and the ability of your suppliers to meet the current as well as future needs. The second area is energy equity, which is having an accessible and affordable energy supply for everyone. The third is the environmental sustainability category and that is to be able to achieve your supply, demand, and development of energy through renewable or other low carbon alternatives. The three parts are combined to give an overall score or rank in the environmental sustainability index.
In the combined overall index, Costa Rica ranked twenty first compared to twenty ninth for Panama to the south and one hundred and thirteenth for Nicaragua to the north. The United States ranked fifteenth overall, but only eighty sixth in the category of environmental sustainability, which is not very good considering how wealthy our country is comparatively. Out of the three categories mentioned, Costa Rica is trending upward in energy security and equity while staying the same in environmental sustainability over the last three years. In this same period the US has gone up slightly in energy security, held the top spot for energy equity and has barely risen in the environmental sustainability category, where we should be rising to the top. There are three other factors that help determine the overall index and they are political, societal and economic strength. The US has risen in political, stayed flat in societal and is falling in economic strength, whereas Costa Rica has risen politically and economically but remained the same in the societal area.
I believe these trends show that Costa Rica is serious about being sustainable and that they are on a level far above more developed countries when it comes to their commitment to renewable resources for their energy consumption, something we should all take notice of. If you look at the picture of the wind farm below you can see that the roads they have to travel on in order to get up to the mountain tops are not very good, and I can tell you from experience being there, that it must have taken a great deal of effort to get these massive windmills up to the top and operational. Kudos to Costa Rica for a job well done.