Greens must learn to talk like bankers says former Costa Rica minister

By RTCC Staff

The key to winning backing for environmental action from finance ministers is to present a solid economic case to back your argument, according to a former Costa Rican Environment and Energy

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, pushed hard for support from the Costa Rican treasury during his tenure with many positive results including the development of renewable energy and huge reforestation.

“We felt that we were not able to transmit and influence the decision from the treasury and the minister of finance because we were not talking the same language,” said Rodriguez.

Costa Rica’s forest cover reached a low of 21% in 1987 from a high of 71% in 1940. The country also had one of the highest per capita rate of deforestation in the world.

“The first thing we did in the 90s was generate a lot of economic information about the benefits of protecting nature, the contribution of forests to the local economy. We did a lot of economic studies about the contribution of forests in water production for hydroelectricity.

“We made the economic case. We can make our electricity from water or we can use fossil fuels,” said Rodriguez who is now senior policy advisor and vice president of the Center for Conservation and Government at Conservation International.

“It was a good approach and we were able to demonstrate that nature generates a lot of benefits that aren’t accounted for but with concrete cases we were able to succeed in many of our efforts,2 he told RTCC.

“Today the treasury and central bank are very much educated in these terms that has enabled us to scale up the work we are doing. That means we can think very seriously about sustainability and the low carbon economy.”


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