GDSA and Conservation International Facilitate A High-Level South-South Policy Exchange to Costa Rica

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DELEGATES FROM LIBERIA, GHANA AND CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL POSE FOR A PICTURE WITH THE PRESIDENT OF COSTA RICA, MR. CARLOS ALVARADO DURING THE HIGH-LEVEL SOUTH-SOUTH POLICY EXCHANGE IN COSTA RICA (© ROWAN BRAYBROOK)

February 2019— Between February 1-9, 2019, the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) and Conservation International (CI) facilitated a High-level South-South Policy Exchange for senior government officials from GDSA member countries Ghana and Liberia to Costa Rica.  

The exchange was to enable decision makers from Liberia and Ghana to learn from Costa Rica's experiences in implementing sustainable development policies.  The delegation included 5 policy makers from Ghana, 6 from Liberia and 2 CI facilitators led by Senior Policy Manager Rowan Braybrook and Deputy Director of Conservation International Liberia Peter Mulbah.

Specifically, the themes of the exchange included:

  1. Implications of Costa Rica’s forest policy on sustainable development of the country

  2. Institutional and legal reforms relevant to Costa Rica’s success in forest and biodiversity conservation including government decentralization

  3. Discussion of Costa Rica’s transition to renewable energy and commitment to carbon neutrality.

  4. Direct experience of Costa Rica’s restoration of degraded lands and discussion of restoration and agriculture in landscape

  5. Coastal protection, including approaches to blue carbon.

  6. Sustainable financing for public and private conservation of biodiversity.

On day 1 of the exchange, the delegation visited CI's offices in Washington DC where they met Conservation International’s President, Ms. Jennifer Morris who engaged them about CI’s overall strategic vision and strengthening of global partnerships. 

On day 2, the group departed to San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city where they met with their government host Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment & Energy. The group also met with Mr. Guillermo Zuñiga, former Minister of Finance, and officials discussing Costa Rica’s approaches to oceans, biodiversity, and climate. Later in the day, the group visited the Presidential House where they met with the President, Mr. Carlos Alvarado.

On day 3, the group held discussions with CI’s experts on sustainable fisheries, marine protection, Costa Rica’s REDD+ forest carbon strategy, and landscape management. Dr. Jaime Echeverria of Tropical Science Center in Costa Rica shared insights on green economy financing mechanisms, the economics of nature in Costa Rica and fundamentals of Payment Ecosystem Services (PES) theory.

On day 4, the group left for a field visit to the Guanacaste Conservation Area, a renowned site for tropical restoration, research and rural development. Guanacaste one of the oldest, largest (1.430 km²), and most successful habitat restoration projects in the world, located just south of the Nicaraguan border between the Pacific Ocean and the Cordillera de Tilarán.

Topics of the field visit included tropical ecosystem restoration, biodiversity management, blue carbon, impact of climate change, fire management, research and development, and improved management of Protected Area systems.  

The restoration work in Costa Rica was particularly interesting to participants, as they were able to see firsthand how the commitments their countries recently made in the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration could be carried out affordably and with active community engagement.

On day 5, the group went for a second field trip to Guadalupe of Esparza where they learnt about the silvopastoral initiative developed with the Cantonal Centre for Agricultural Development. Here the group had a chance to walk through the mangroves, visit a community nursery and hold discussions with authorities of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) and community members about the impact on mangrove ecosystems and importance of its conservation and restoration.

On day 6, the group left for Rio Jesús Community to see the landscape restoration activities developed to reverse serious soil degradation and later visited a farm in Llano Brenes, San Ramón to learn about the soil conservation and water management practices implemented by local coffee producers. They also visited Madre Verde Foundation in Palmares, Alajuela, a local NGO that conserves a 40ha reserve and supports Voluntary Forest Fire Brigades in the cantons of Palmares-San Ramón, Esparza-Tivives and San Mateo-Orotina.

The overall outcome of the trip was positive, with interest and commitments from policy makers to transfer lessons learnt back to Liberian and Ghanaian national contexts as they committed to continue working with CI to make progress on Ecosystem Restoration whilst protecting countries natural capital.

For more information, email rjansen@conservation.org