By Laura Alvarado January 23, 2018, as appeared in The Costa Rica Star, February 4, 2018
Costa Rica claimed a spot in the 2018 list of The World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations, a ranking created by Ethical Travel, an all-volunteer non-profit organization and project of the Earth Island Institute.
“Every year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of hundreds of nations in the developing world. We then select the ten that are doing the most impressive job of promoting human rights, preserving the environment, and supporting social welfare—all while creating a lively, community-based tourism industry. By visiting these countries, we can use our economic leverage to reward good works and support best practices. No money or donations of any kind are solicited or accepted from any nations, governments, travel bureaus, or individuals in the creation of our annual list.”, states the report.
The ten countries that made the list are: Belize, Benin, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Palau, St. Kitts & Nevis, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.
Costa Rica also appeared in the 2017 list. Ethical Traveler explains that the list is created through surveys in which they focus in four general categories: environmental protection, social welfare, animal welfare and human rights; “For each category, we look at information past and present to understand not only the current state of a country but how it has changed over time. This process helps us to select nations that are actively improving the state of their people, government, and environment. Our goal is to encourage the behaviors we see as creating a safer and more sustainable world”.
Once they have identified 25 “short list” performers they focus on actions these governments have taken over the past year to improve or weaken policies and practices in their countries.
“For a country to make our list, of course, it must excel in more than metrics. Each Ethical Destination also offers unspoiled natural beauty, great outdoor activities, and the opportunity to interact with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way”, continues the report.
Some of the actions highlighted for Costa Rica include:
-The launching of an initiative in 2018 to aid elderly citizens in finding work; currently, only about 25 per cent of people over 60 are gainfully employed.
-The goal set of carbon neutrality by 2021; also the fact that Costa Rica ran nearly 100% in renewable sources and the fact that the plans for a new El Diquís dam, which, even though it would increase the country’s renewable energy capacity, would have a devastating impact on the lands of indigenous communities, were blocked in court.
-The commitment of the country to address the regional refugee and displacement crisis.
-The imposition of criminal charges for the illegal trade of shark fins, which made a historic ruling… however in this matter the report states: “Costa Rica is one of the world’s few countries to ban the export of hammerhead shark fins. Nevertheless, conservationists remain alarmed because the administration of President Luis Solís has worked tirelessly to lift the ban, imposed in 2015, to allow the export of eight tons of fins amassed since the ban took effect. This would be detrimental to the species’ survival. We will follow this issue closely when considering Costa Rica for next year’s list. Also a very positive evolution regarding animal rights in 2017, Costa Rica made killing, mistreating, or abandoning pets a crime.”