Costa Rica

Widely known for its rich biodiversity and efforts to conserve this biodiversity by placing more than 26 per cent of its land under protection, Costa Rica has developed a diverse economy that includes tourism, the export of agricultural products (principally bananas, pineapples and coffee), and light manufacturing (including the micro-processors and pharmaceuticals). Costa Ricans have the highest standard of living within Central America, with per capita income averaging about US$10,570 (USDS, 2011).

In 1994, Costa Rica initiated an ambitious program to incorporate sustainable development principles in the different programs of governmental institutions. In 1995, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) provided funding to the government of Costa Rica through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to help the National Meteorological Institute elaborate a national inventory on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by sources (GEF/UNDP, GF/0103-92-01) according to the IPCC methodology; the reference year was 1990. Costa Rica determined that the energy sector and, in particular, the transportation sector require immediate attention regarding emissions.

Costa Rica has submitted two national communications to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), laying out the actions that the government has already taken and the analytical basis for its policy response to climate change and its commitments to take future actions within an official international framework. The First National Communication established the First National GHG Inventory with 1990 as its base year and included an identification of adaptation and mitigation options to climate change for the water sector and coastal areas, as well as agriculture and forestry.

The Second National Communication was submitted in October 2009 and has a revised National Greenhouse Gas Inventories for 2000 and 2005, policies and mitigation measures for greenhouse gas absorption, vulnerability studies and adaptation measures to climate change, a chapter on technology transfer, as well as other pertinent information related to the achievement of the Convention.

Climate change vulnerability studies were also carried out with the financial support of The Netherlands Government through the Institute for Environmental Studies and the Coastal Zone Management Centre, as part of the project: Climate Changes Studies in Costa Rica. The three sectors evaluated in this project, considering potential climate scenarios, were: coastal areas, agriculture and forest ecosystems.

A rise in sea level caused by an increase in global average temperatures could lead to transgressions of the actual coastline and an increment in the amount of areas subject to tide inundations along the 1300 km coastline. Regarding the agricultural sector, studies showed that crop productivity can be affected with climate variability, temperatures can have an effect on crop development in all its phases, water deficit can diminish crop efficiency and biomass levels will be reduced. In terms of forest coverage, a significant reduction for tropical, humid premontane and highly humid montane life zone forests can take place, while an increase in coverage for humid and highly humid premontane may also occur.

The Costa Rican government marked the creation of the National Strategy for Climate Change (ENCC, Spanish acronym) as a top priority for its 2006-2010 agenda. Through this national policy, it is required from all public institutions, local governments and autonomous institutions to produce and put into execution a short, medium and long term action plans containing clear goals around the six main pillars of the strategy: mitigation, vulnerability and adaptation, precise metric system, development of national capacity and technology transfer, education and public awareness and financing. The mitigation pillar has as its main goal to make the country carbon neutral by 2021.

Related Content

Costa Rica – GEF Trust Project Identification Form

Project Identification Form (PIF) for the project titled “Capacity-Building for Mainstreaming MEA Objectives into Inter-Ministerial Structures in Costa Rica”

Capacity-Building for Mainstreaming MEA Objectives into Inter-Ministerial Structures in Costa Rica

The main barriers towards an effective implementation in Costa Rica are twofold: poor policy coordination and inadequate mechanisms to learn and apply best practices. This UNDP-supported project therefore seeks to maximize synergies among the policies, rules and decision-making procedures governing the management of biodiversity, climate change and land degradation, among other environmental issues in Costa Rica.

Level of Intervention: 
Key Collaborators: 
POINT (-84.1113281572 9.9093327093)
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
$ 980,000


Costa Rica – GEF Trust Project Identification Form

Co-Financing Total: 
$ 1,650,000
Tom Twining Ward
Regional Technical Advisor
Project Status: 
Programme Meetings and Workshops: 

The project will maximize synergy in the decision-making process governing the management of biodiversity, climate change and land degradation through the creation of the following –

  1. Integrated inter-ministerial decision-making process for the global environment through targeted reforms for meeting global environmental objectives (Outcome 1.1); Implementation of governance reforms (Outcome 1.2); Creation of an approved strategy for environmental policy reforms under implementation (Outcome 1.3) and; Strengthening of an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate environmental policies (Outcome1.4).
  2. Integrating cross-cutting Rio Convention provisions into environmental legislation and regulation by conducting cross-sectoral discussion of targeted environmental legislation  and regulation (Outcome 2.1); Review of areas of mutual exclusivity between sectoral and environmental legislation and regulation (Outcome 2.2); Preparation of key amendments to legislation and regulation  to be consistent with Rio Conventions (Outcome 2.3) and; Creation of an approved strategy for  implementing the legislative and regulatory  reforms (Outcome 2.4).
  3. Management capacities to integrate global environmental priorities into national environmental and development strategies, plans, and programmes. This will be achieved by designing training programmes (Outcome 3.1); Conducting information campaigns targeted to technical staff  and decision-makers (Outcome 3.2); Operationalizing an on-going inter-agency collaboration to catalyze and institutionalize technical capacities (Outcome 3.3) and; Strengthening the management capacity of National Focal Points regarding the mainstreaming of MEA objectives (Outcome 3.4).


Costa Rica- Second National Communication 2009

Costa Rica's Second National Communication

The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities.The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

Key Vulnerabilities identified in Costa Rica's Second National Plan (2009):

  • Water Resources
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture and Livestock
  • Energy
Level of Intervention: 
Key Collaborators: 
POINT (-84.1113097994 9.95404424402)
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved identification of national circumstances, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 

Assessments and Background Documents

Costa Rica- Second National Communication 2009

Co-Financing Total: 
Project Details: 
Potential Adaptation Measures

Water Resources

  • "Summer” programs by the Costa Rican Institute of Waterworks and Sewerages (AyA)
  • Formal and informal education campaigns
  • Construction of wells and water storage tanks
  • Repair and renewal of broken down pipelines
  • Sediment removal in water intakes
  • Investment in infrastructure (wells and tanks) and technology
  • Reducing concessional flow or maintaining environmental flow
  • Protection of aquifers and water intakes
  • Limiting concession number on basis of sector and source
  • Water pollution levy
  • Improved control measures and monitoring in resource use (meters)
  • Improving infrastructure, surveillance and control of water capture from springs (ASADAS)
  • Sanitary risk program from AyA
  • Monitoring and control
  • Water rationing


  • Protection, reforestation and prevention of degradation
  • River bank restoration
  • Agroforestry systems - erosion reduction through provision of organic material to soil water protection (quantity and quality) by encouraging infiltration and reducing runoff that could pollute waterways carbon capture, enhancing potential of silvopasture systems
  • Watershed management (Pirris/ Platanar Project at the river spring level)

Agriculture and Livestock

  • Integral farm management (Virilla upper river region)
  • New production alternatives (hydroponics, greenhouses, controlled climates, others)
  • Irrigation projects and capacity building to raise irrigation efficiency
  • Drainage ditches in areas affected by excessive rainfall
  • Combined aquaculture and irrigation systems, water recycling


  • Greater efficient equipment, as in compact fluorescent lamps
  • Charge control
  • Generation from cleaner sources
Expected Key Results and Outputs: 
  • Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
  • Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
  • Measures contributing to addressing climate change
  • Research and systematic observation
  • Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
  • Education, training and public awarenes
Monitoring & Evaluation: 

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.

The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.

Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.

Yamil Bonduki
Coordinator, National Communications Support Programme (NCSP)
Roberto Villalobos
Country Contact
Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
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