2021 ushered in the first-ever Earthshot Prize – “…the most prestigious global environmental prize in history” awarded to 5 entities (people, cities, countries, businesses, etc.). The Earthshot Prize is designed to incentivize change in order to reverse environmental degradation and ensure a sustainable future on our planet for generations to come. And guess what? Our tiny country of Costa Rica won the “Protect & Restore Nature” prize category for 2021!
For the next 10 years, one Earthshot Prize (£1 million pounds sterling, or about $1.375 million USD) will be awarded to those nominated for the Protect & Restore Nature category, as well as these four additional categories:
- Clean Our Air
- Revive Our Oceans
- Build a Waste-Free World
- Fix Our Climate
The Earthshot Prize idea is the brainchild of Their Royal Highnesses, Prince William, and his wife, Kate Middleton – a.k.a. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was inspired by US President John F. Kennedy’s “Moonshot”. In the early 1960’s, JFK united tens of millions of Americans behind his goal to reach the moon by the end of the decade. The US did just that on July 20, 1969 when the Apollo 11 LEM – acronym for the Lunar Excursion Module, and nicknamed “The Eagle” – landed on the moon. Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot there, speaking the now infamous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has very cleverly switched things up with the Earthshot Prize. The urgency of our time is not reaching the moon – it’s saving our own planet.
Costa Rica has a long history of environmental conservation and clean energy. But it hasn’t always been that way. The country’s economy used to reward the cutting down of rain forests and tropical dry forests. But by 1997, a large percentage of the country’s forests and biodiversity had been eliminated. It was then that President José Figueres Olsen took it upon himself late in his administration to reverse the trend.
So, instead of rewarding the destruction of natural habitat, the government began paying landowners and indigenous peoples to not only protect land, but to improve it by planting trees and forest-friendly crops, thus restoring forests and biodiversity in places where they had been eliminated. In other words, they made it more profitable to preserve nature that to destroy it.
Since that time, the amount of land now covered by forest in Costa Rica has doubled in size! It’s one of only a few countries in the world where this has happened. Almost every other has lost and continues to lose its forests and other natural habitat via a variety of causes – almost all of which are man-made.
See Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Quesada’s Facebook Live post of the Earthshot Award, below. You may have to unblock it depending on your browser. His acceptance comments are mostly wooden but he finishes pretty funny. (Hint: Coldplay).
Sustainability is the only way forward.
The vast majority of Costa Ricans (affectionately nicknamed “Ticos” for their unique Spanish accents) consider their country not only and national treasure, but a global jewel that shines brightly. “Pura vida” – literally translated to “Pure life” in English – is the national slogan. But, like Hawaii’s “Aloha”, it can have multiple meanings such as, “Hello”, “Cool”, “Goodbye”, “I’m well”, “It’s all good”, and more.
The pura vida mentality of Costa Rica lends itself well to the protection and appreciation of nature. Nosara Community is building upon this wonderful and inherent sort of national psyche by creating sustainable communities where people can live a lifestyle based on sustainability, wellness, family, and nature. A lifestyle that’s in harmony with planet Earth.
These are also communities that are inclusive, not exclusive, and give back to the Nosara region by working with local foodbanks (as we are right now).
This may be the first Earthshot Prize Costa Rica has won. But it definitely won’t be the last!
The Nosara Community team.