Sustainability in Costa Rica is already a way of life. An attitude and a set of consolidated habits.  Sustainability in Costa Rica is as embedded as political peace and not having an army. We just don’t know another way of doing things anymore

Golfo Dulce

Golfo Dulce

In just the first half of 2017, Costa Rica has attained a new record in clean energy generation and got their latest Biosphere Reserve declaration by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)—consolidating an already known compromise to sustainability.

Sustainable tourism During the first six months of the year, 99 percent of Costa Rica’s electricity came from renewable sources, according to data from the National Energy Control Center (CENCE).

In the last 30 years, renewable sources such as geothermal, solar, wind, and hydro electric have been responsible for the generation of nearly 93 percent of Costa Rica’s energy, but this July Costa Rica broke their own record.

Sustainable practices can be recognized in every area of the country, across all industries, embraced by all citizens and adopted by visitors. With almost all of its energy being provided by renewable resources, it’s quite easy to witness that sustainability is embedded deeply in the culture and attitudes of Costa Ricans.

Another win for sustainability was earned in June when UNESCO declared Savegre River, located in the Zona de los Santos (Zone of the Saints), a Biosphere Reserve.

Biosphere reserves are specifically selected areas for sustainable development that adjust the conservation of biodiversity with the proper use of natural sources.

As stated on the UNESCO website:

Biosphere reserves are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites’ – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.

Costa Rica already has four reserves, but this is the first with coastal marine components, as it includes the marine part of the Manuel Antonio National Park, in Quepos.

Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve and Spa

Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve and Spa

The Savegre River stands out for its magnificent biodiversity. The reserve houses 20% of Costa Rica’s flora, 54% of the country’s mammals and 59% of its birds.

The area also includes seven protected wilderness areas: Manuel Antonio National Park, Cerro Nara Protective Zone, Portalón Mixed Wildlife Refuge, Hacienda Barú Mixed Wildlife Refuge, Los Santos Forest Reserve, Quetzales National Park and Cerro Vueltas Biological Reserve.

It is clear that Costa Ricans are proud to live amongst and protect their country’s rich environment.

As small as it is, Costa Rica holds five percent of the world’s known biodiversity, 3.5 percent of all marine life and 30 percent of the country’s territory is protected tropical nature. With a forest cover of over 50% of the total land.  

A pioneer in the area of sustainability, Costa Rica is a model for sustainable practices for many industries around the world.

The tourism trade has had a huge hand in giving ground for growth in this area.

Through the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program, which was designed by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), entrepreneurs can receive credit and compensation for their sustainable practices to help differentiate businesses within the tourism sector. Based on the degree

Based on the degree in which they commit with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management, a large selection of attractions, hotels and restaurants can be officially classified as sustainable.

You can also read: CST and the five leaves, Why is it important?

Businesses in the CST program receive recognition by being awarded “leaves” or level markers. One leaf indicates that a business engages in minimal sustainable practices and a distinction of five leaves indicates that a business exemplifies the highest standard of sustainable practices in its respective sector. Businesses that hold five level markers (leaves) in the CST program are carbon neutral, integrate authentic locally made products into its offerings, give back to Costa Rica’s rural community and more.

CST was introduced in 1997 and has continued to evolve and change with the advancement of technologies over the years. As of May, more than 347 companies, ranging from lodging, tour companies, restaurants and car rentals, in Costa Rica earned CST certification. The program hopes to reach its goal of certifying 425 companies by the end of 2017.

With these two latest wins, it’s clear that sustainability is not only a practice in Costa Rica; it is a way of life.

CST Five LeavesAt Camino Travel

For us, at Camino Travel sustainability has turned into a real thought system and an attitude to live by. We are used to it. It is as part of our environment in the office as not having an army is part of our Costa Rican way of life.

Recycling, turning off the lights or screens when we are away, going for real education efforts in our community, using reusable containers or water bottles, is simply part of being a Costa Rican and a Camino Travel staff member.


Costa Rica Achieves Two New Records in Sustainability Effort – Costa Rica Star News. (2017). Costa Rica Star News. Retrieved 27 July 2017, from

Turismo Sostenible CST: Certificación para la Sostenibilidad Turística en Costa Rica. (2017). Retrieved 27 July 2017, from