By Bethany Cook, ISA Student Services Advisor
Happy Earth Day, fellow Earthlings! Think you can’t study abroad without leaving a giant carbon footprint? Well think again, because ISA offers programs in one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world – Costa Rica! So, in honor of Earth Day, let’s shine a spotlight on one of ISA’s greenest program options.
Did you know Costa Rica has committed to becoming Carbon neutral by 2021? Now, that’s a bold statement, but so far the country has put its money where its mouth is. Below are some ways that Costa Rica is cementing its status as a world leader in sustainability.
Sustainable development aims to provide a balance between the economy, environment, and society. It works to minimize negative impacts while increasing the positive ones. In Costa Rica, ecotourism is one of the leading methods of sustainable development.
From active volcanoes and cloud forests, to beautiful beaches and untouched islands, not to mention, its stable economy, lack of a national military, and its friendly and inviting “Tico” culture, Costa Rica is poised to excel in ecotourism. In fact, according to a 2012 TripAdvisor survey, Costa Rica was ranked as the top destination for tourists looking for an eco-friendly trip!
ISA Costa Rica students experience ecotourism by exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Not only do students get to explore the intricate cloud forest, but 100% of the income from visitors gets put back into the reserve.
Due to irresponsible timber production in the past, many countries have lost vital biodiversity. Costa Rica is fighting hard to counter this loss by making changes throughout the country. From 1987 to 2010, Costa Rica has increased its forest coverage from about 21% of the country, to over 50% of the country, with the ultimate goal to recover 60% by 2021.
Two of the leading contributors to the country’s forest recovery are conservation and sustainable farming. With almost 27% of the country’s land deemed as “Protected Area” and increasing numbers of farmers moving toward sustainable farming, the Costa Rican forests are well on their way to continued recovery.
ISA Costa Rica students have the unique opportunity, during an included excursion, to visit a sustainable farm, Arenal Vida Campesina. There, students learn about growing organic crops in an environmentally friendly way and contribute to forest recovery by sponsoring and planting a tree.
For the first 75 days of 2015, the entire country of Costa Rica was powered entirely by renewable energy sources. That’s pretty impressive! But it doesn’t stop there. Costa Rica expects to use more than 95% renewable energy resources to power its electricity for this entire year with the majority of this coming from hydro sources.
This year, Costa Rica will complete the largest renewable energy project in Central America, the Reventazón Hydropower Plant, which will be the first renewable energy resource to have an offset for river habitat and will contribute to preserving the native jaguar population. While water is its primary source of renewable energy, Costa Rica also uses geothermal, wind and biomass resources to help power the country.
ISA Costa Rica students can rest assured that the energy they use while living abroad is coming from renewable resources. Still, they can do their part during a homestay by turning off lights and watching how much water they use.
Currently ranked 3rd in performance by the 2014 Global Green Economy Index, Costa Rica is definitely on its way to reaching the goal of carbon neutrality. So what are you and your green thumb waiting for? Check out ISA’s Costa Rica programs to see how you can have an unforgettable study abroad experience in this spectacular country. As part of the ISA Application, you will have the option to give $5 toward offsetting your Carbon emissions, so make sure to donate. Plus, all donations are matched by ISA!
For more about Costa Rica, check out these posts: