Monday, June 8, 2009

The Circle of... Biodiversity

June 8, 2009

News flash:

Costa Rica has oil, but it has banned drilling.

About two months ago, a New York Times author, Thomas Friedman, came down to Costa Rica for an eco-tour, and he brought back with him better understanding of how to operate a country's environmental systems. One of these guidelines includes: no drilling of oil. He wrote about the system, called "payment for environmental services," in which everyone pays for using nature. No action taken involving the country's natural resources goes unexamined. The reason? ONE minister handles every area of nature: water, mines, energy, and environment - something no other country has ever done.

This is an important new "holistic strategy," as Friedman calls it. If all of the responsibility for these environmental factors falls in the hands of one department, the advantage is having a point-of-view monitoring how these systems work together. In doing this, the minister sees the effect that one resource's restrictions/allowances have on other resources. Implementation of this break-through strategy stemmed from the conclusion that all usage of nature must be paid for. He clarifies "So if a chemical factory sells tons of fertilizer but pollutes a river — or a farm sells bananas but destroys a carbon-absorbing and species-preserving forest — this is not honest growth."

CRROBS has adopted this mentality in its organizational processes, too. For example, the staff's food stipend must never be used for beef. Reason being, if we eat beef, we aid the deforestation of Costa Rica since cow pastures need a lot of land. Our relationships with our homestay families also reflects this ambition in the way that we help fund their self-sufficiency. The payments they receive go towards hydro-electric systems, good plumbing, and healthy farms. With these, they do not have to deforest in order to

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