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Tourism in Latin America ReducesLatin America is a vast region with diverse weather, geography, culture and foods. Each year, millions of tourists flock to Latin America to enjoy its natural beauty. A vacation haven, tourism in Latin America is a driving force for economic development in the region. Furthermore, tourism in Latin America reduces poverty.

Tourism in Latin America

From the beaches of Cuba to the Andes mountains in Peru, any traveler can find a destination of their preference. The most visited countries in Latin America are Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. According to the World Bank, more than 113 million tourists traveled to Latin America in 2018, bringing $103 billion worth of revenue. Tourism in Latin America has created more than 15 million jobs, which accounts for 7.6% of all employment. Furthermore, international tourism contributes roughly $348 billion to the GDP of the countries in the region.

Ecotourism in Costa Rica

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Central America saw a 7.3% growth in its tourism sector, the biggest subregional growth in Latin America. Moreover, the country of Costa Rica has attracted millions of international visitors thanks to its ecotourism. Costa Rica is a leader in preserving its environment while attracting millions to come and enjoy its natural beauty. Beaches, rainforests, volcanoes and wildlife attract tourists which contributes to the economic development of the nation. A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences correlates ecotourism with improving the lives of Costa Ricans. The study found those living near protected areas and parks saw a 16% reduction in poverty. Furthermore, tourism in the country accounts for 5% of the GDP.

Poverty Reduction in the Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is the dream destination for many, with captivating views of the ocean and exciting nightlife, the beach town welcomes 60% of all Dominican Republic’s tourists. Moreover, the country has benefited more from international tourism than any other Latin American nation. The tourism industry contributes to 9.5% of the island nation’s GDP. Even though poverty is still an issue for the country, extreme poverty decreased to 1.6% of the population in 2018. Furthermore, malnourishment has also decreased and life expectancy has increased. Tourism has steadily contributed to the well-being of Dominicans.

COVID-19 and Mexico

Mexico’s tourism is very important for its economy. Mexico is dependent on its tourism sector since it accounts for 16.1% of its GDP and employs nearly nine million people. Destinations such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo are very popular for tourists to visit. Furthermore, Mexico’s tourism was thriving until the COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges to the country. The pandemic brought a halt to tourism and hurt the economy of Mexico. Nonetheless, Mexico still manages to keep the industry alive. Mexico began to limit hotel and restaurant capacity to curtail the virus. Mexico is also working with the CDC to ensure U.S. travelers going back to the United States are returning uninfected. Even though tourism has decreased because of the pandemic, flights to the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun and Tulum are located, were averaging 460 air arrivals compared to an average of 500 pre-pandemic.

Tourism and the Future

Tourism in Latin America has positively impacted many lives across the region. The U.N. acknowledges that tourism is a way for a developing country to economically sustain itself. Moreover, tourism in Latin America reduces poverty. Challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic put a setback to the growing tourism sector. Regardless, Latin America has an abundance of beauty and adventure, thus ensuring tourism will be kept alive once the pandemic is over.

– Andy Calderon Lanza
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Costa RicaThe country of Costa Rica has an abundance of natural resources available. The particularly abundant renewable resources that Costa Rica uses in great quantity is its wind and hydro energy. Costa Rica has embraced renewable energy and has benefitted from it in a multitude of ways but there are also some less obvious ways it has benefitted from renewable energy.

Renewable Energy in Costa Rica

Renewable energy has helped small business owners and farmers. This would explain why so many of them are supportive of renewable energy. Since deforestation has been largely stopped because of renewable energy, the biodiversity in Costa Rica has been able to remain. Costa Rica’s mass only makes up 0.03% of the Earth. Nonetheless, 6% of the Earth’s natural wealth and biodiversity is located within Costa Rica.

It is this biodiversity that has become so useful to the farmers of Costa Rica. Biodiversity reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides that the farmers would normally use. Other natural resources can be used for farming as well. Cacao shells, for example, can be used for mulch and logs can be used to make the soil richer.

Renewable Energy Helps Tourism

Tourism has also benefitted from renewable energy in Costa Rica. Tourism is an extremely important part of Costa Rica’s economy. Tourism alone brings in about $1 billion to the country and employs around 155,000 people. This is a substantial amount of people in a country home to about four million people. Renewable energy indirectly helps protect tourism in Costa Rica, in particular, ecotourism. By protecting these natural resources, Costa Rica ensures that people will continue to visit the country to see the beauty of its natural and conserved environments.

The Los Santos Wind Power Project

Renewable energy has also helped small and local communities in many ways. Los Santos is one such area that has seen these positive impacts. Los Santos has particularly benefitted from the use of wind energy. The area is one of the windiest regions within Costa Rica. Currently, the Lost Santos Wind Power Project is installing wind turbines in the region.

The project has built enough windmills in the area that the region is able to generate 12.75 MW of wind energy, provide 50,000 inhabitants with the electricity they need and prevent around 15,000 tonnes of carbon from being released into the atmosphere each year. The energy produced by the wind turbines can then be sold to the government. The money that is earned can be used to help the local community. For example, the money made from selling energy that is produced can be used for the construction of new schools. Additionally, the installation of wind turbines will also create new jobs for people. To keep turbines functioning and ensure they receive repairs when needed, technicians must be available to work on them.

Renewable Energy, Renewable Hope

Renewable energy in Costa Rica is beneficial for a multitude of reasons, as set out above. The money from the generation of renewable energy can be used to help small communities. The tourism industry in Costa Rica will continue to thrive and because the environment will remain undamaged so will the amount of biodiversity that helps farmers.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Ecotourism in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is notable for having a stronger democracy than the United States and being the least impoverished nation in Central America. Twenty-five percent of the country is national parks – some might say that leaving all that land unfarmed means losing productivity. The national parks also contain untouched forests, which create economic incentives to develop that land into a pasture or city. However, since it is doing better than its neighbors at economic and social development, there must be some other reason Costa Rica is successful. A large part of that answer is the amount of ecotourism in Costa Rica.

History of Ecotourism

Ecotourism in Costa Rica started in the 1960s when only 25% of the once entirely forested country remained untouched. Entrepreneurs were curious about how the country could preserve the forest in a way that earned more money than logging it. They built lodging near newly-founded parks and worked with foreign retailers such as Any Mountain to make specialized outdoor gear to handle the terrain. Entrepreneurs also encouraged the government to produce web pages that emphasize the positive environmental impacts of ecotourism.

Benefits of Ecotourism

As a result of these investments, Costa Rica attracted 3.14 million tourists in 2019. The direct and indirect benefits of these tourists are:

  1. Money: Costa Rica earned $3.4 billion in just one year— around 5% of the country’s GDP—due to visitor spending. That money can increase the number of people in the middle class and help Costa Ricans avoid the poverty that affects neighboring countries.
  2. Sustainability: If Costa Rica’s businesses decided to use the remaining 25% of the forests for lumber, there would be none left now. Ecotourism can exist as a source of income indefinitely. In the long run, that can create lasting prosperity and health for the citizens of the country.
  3. Protected Biodiversity: Places closest to the equator like Costa Rica contain the most species per unit area. Those species have the potential to cure diseases. They act as a harbor of life in the developed world where many are going extinct.
  4. Proof of Concept: Costa Rica was one of the first countries that had visitors to admire ecological, not historical, sites. People first created the term ecotourism, then, to describe the focus of the visitors. Many places in Africa such as Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Benin established national parks in an attempt to reap the same rewards as Costa Rica.

The Future of Ecotourism

Ecotourism in Costa Rica and in other parts of the world is a way to satisfy both the ecological and economical needs of people. This leads to stable and robust governments that can stand up to disturbances like natural disasters. They can also serve their constituents better by preventing vast swaths of the population from sliding into poverty.

That is not to say that it is a perfect solution. Historically, leaders have uprooted indigenous communities to make the parks for ecotourism. Other sectors like Costa Rica’s computer parts manufacturing can use it as a false front to justify unnecessary pollution. Diseases like COVID-19 can reduce traffic, leaving many without jobs. However, under normal circumstances, the positives outweigh the negatives. Countries around the world should at least consider integrating ecotourism into their economies and the lives of their citizens.

– Michael Straus
Photo: Flickr

Economic Development in Developing Island Nations
Island nations such as Fiji and Tonga are isolated paradises largely cut off from global markets. As tourism increases through the year however, these countries’ economies thrive. While ecotourism in developing island nations increases employment rates and the development of other important sectors, it has to be done with the land and its people in mind.

What is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism in developing island nations is an economic development tool that involves bringing local communities and travelers together in an environmentally friendly way. The main benefits include the preservation of native lands, increases in local employment rates and increased funds for continued conservation. If not kept in check however, ecotourism has the potential to exploit an island’s natural resources and populations, so it must be implemented in the most sustainable way possible. Once nations see improvements in their tourism industry, they can easily become vulnerable to large corporations wanting to create new—and potentially damaging—markets there.

Why Tourism is Important to Developing Island Nations

The World Bank has identified 11 Pacific Islands (PIC 11) that will benefit immensely from increased tourism. These islands are: Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati, Palau, Marshall Islands (RMI), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Tuvalu. These countries received over 1.3 million visitors in 2014 and are renowned for their beautiful landscapes, diverse cultures and incredible natural resources. Of this group, countries with the highest tourism rates also have the highest employment rates. The industry employs 15% of the population in Tonga, 18% in Samoa, 50% in Palau.

The Caribbean is one of the most popular tourist destinations, with many of its nations’ economies heavily or completely reliant on tourism industries. The World Bank has started initiatives within the region to establish “blue economies” that take both economic development and environmental effects into consideration. Since 2010, the region’s GDP has increased alongside the growth of island tourism. Unfortunately, these changes have come with an increase in plastic marine debris and the destruction of coral reefs. The main focus of these “blue economies” is to establish a balance between the ocean and the economy so everyone benefits.

Ecotourism Efforts to Support

There are many organizations working to make ecotourism in developing island nations a reality. Ecotourism Belize hires local workers in the Toledo District as guides for tours through the Belizean jungle. They also have a group of bird specialists and traditional healers hired. All employees are of Mayan descent so they are able to give honest representation of ancient Mayan culture and convey how it has been passed down through generations. All of Ecotourism Belize’s profits fund conservation efforts within the Maya Golden Landscape.

In 2017, Palau became the first country to require an “Eco-Pledge” by visitors upon entering. Over the past several years it has seen tourist rates grow seven times larger than the region’s native population. Home to beautiful natural ecosystems, Palau knew it had to mitigate the rise in the destruction of its land due to increased tourism. The country’s government found this destruction was due to a lack of education. By introducing visitors to a localized way of thinking about the environment, the government has taken an important first step towards successful ecotourism.

Keeping Things Balanced

Ecotourism in developing island nations has the potential to help eradicate poverty in these regions. Done correctly, it allows locals to hold onto their culture while protecting their resources and ecosystems at the same time.

Stephanie Russo
Photo: Flickr

Poaching and Poverty in Botswana

Botswana is home to roughly one third of all of Africa’s wild elephant population, largely thanks to governmental bans on big game hunting. While other African countries kept more lenient laws in place, many elephants fled to Botswana seeking refuge, leading to the large concentration of elephants in Botswana. However, on May 22, 2019, the Ministry of Environment released a report stating that sport hunters would once again be allowed to hunt elephants after the five-year ban. This means that the cycle of poaching and poverty in Botswana will continue until action is taken.

Poaching by the Numbers

According to National Geographic, elephant populations across Africa dropped by thirty percent between 2007 and 2014. In the years since 2014, Botswana has only suffered more losses to their elephant population. A study published in the scientific journal Current Biology found that elephant carcasses in the years between 2014 and 2018 increased by around 600 percent. Considering that the hunting ban was only lifted in May 2019, this means that the significant increase in elephant deaths can partially be attributed to illegal poaching.

Why Illegal Poaching?

Illegal poaching, especially of elephants, has become a relatively lucrative industry in Africa as demand for ivory in Asian countries remains high. Illegal poaching creates jobs for people living in rural areas where other opportunities may be scarce. The lax enforcement of poaching bans and environmental regulations contributes to the cycle of poaching, but the larger issue is the lack of opportunities for people in rural areas to participate in legal, sustainable ventures.

Ecotourism, for example, is one way in which African countries can profit off of protecting their natural resources. Poaching threatens the very animals and environment that attract so many tourists. While a successful ecotourism industry requires investment in protecting and preserving land, it is a more sustainable (and legal) way to create sustainable jobs in more rural areas. According to the journal Nature Communications, elephant poaching causes African nations to lose the equivalent of 25 million USD each year in revenue that could have been brought in via tourism and conservation efforts.

The Link Between Poverty and Poaching

Poaching and poverty in Botswana is a cycle that hurts the environment, the citizens of Botswana and the economy as a whole. Creating and enforcing stricter poaching laws will not stop illegal poaching as long as there are no other job opportunities for people. A study published in the Nature Communications journal suggests that enforcement of anti-poaching laws will only be successful if the efforts are matched with measures to reduce poverty and corruption.

While poverty in Botswana decreased from 30.6 to 19.4 percent between the years 2002 and 2010, rural areas are still struggling to implement sustainable economic practices. The connection between impoverished communities and poaching levels demonstrates that poaching is driven by economic necessity; investment in rural and impoverished areas could serve to break the cycle of poaching and poverty in Botswana.

Looking Ahead

As poaching in Botswana threatens both elephants and the economy, several conservation groups have been conducting research and collecting data to make the government more aware of the issues associated with poaching. Elephants Without Borders (EWB) is a non-profit group based in Kazungula, Botswana that has provided recent data regarding elephant carcasses in Botswana and surrounding nations. By tracking migratory patterns and identifying elephant populations, EWB seeks to protect elephant habitats and educate the public about this important species. So far, EWB has implemented tracking collars on 170 elephants that travel across five African nations. This data can help scientists understand how why and how elephants migrate and choose habitats.Groups such as EWB are key components in the effort to eliminate illegal poaching in Africa.

– Erin Grant
Photo: Flickr

poverty and environmentalism in Costa Rica
While Costa Rica is a country filled with natural beauty and vibrant culture, the small Central American nation is not immune to poverty and other issues that involve human rights and living conditions. Approximately 21 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and Costa Rica continues to be a source and destination for human trafficking and forced labor. Costa Rica is currently classified as a Tier 2 Watchlist country according to the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, meaning that its government does not fully comply with anti-trafficking regulations and NGOs complete more progressive work than the government itself. That said, the government has taken an alternative approach by attempting to combine the issues of poverty and environmentalism in Costa Rica, one that it hopes will assist in both the conservation of Costa Rica’s rich ecosystems while simultaneously reducing its poverty levels.

Environmentally-Conscious Poverty Initiatives

Costa Rica’s government has made a concerted effort to combat its poverty and modernize its economy without harming its most important resource: its vibrant environment. From instituting cleaner industrial and agricultural practices to creating more jobs by embracing its growing tourism industry, Costa Rica has eclipsed the impoverished fate of its Central American neighbors and will continue to develop into an efficient and comfortable society.

Costa Rica has implemented programs that aim to benefit the economy, the environment and the nation’s individuals and families. For example, the government has instituted a system centered around payments for environmental services (PES) that incentivizes greener practices for industries like agriculture in exchange for payments from the government. PES works especially well for farmers and other landowners because it gives them the opportunity to receive financial rewards for assisting or maintaining environmental services that benefit other Costa Ricans and the environment.

Most of the advantages come in the form of tax compensation and write-offs, which helps poorer farmers by decreasing their tax burdens. The system’s environmental impact has been large too, as nearly one million hectares of forested Costa Rican land has been a part of PES since its start in 1997. This means that more Costa Rican land and wildlife are receiving protection, thus also allowing for agriculture and tourism industries to thrive and provide job opportunities for Costa Ricans.

Agricultural Cooperatives

Another way in which the Costa Rican government has aimed to combat poverty while simultaneously helping the environment is through the encouragement of the formation of more agricultural cooperatives. From coffee beans to pineapples, Costa Rican farmers are continuing to form more organized cooperatives to ensure that they see a more bountiful financial return on the production of their respective crops. For instance, a cooperative called CoopeTarrazú has grown to over 400 coffee farmers, all of whom process and market their crops as part of the cooperative. Cooperatives like these not only give farmers the opportunity to make more money, but they also become valuable consultation resources for the government and NGOs interested in implementing any sort of programs involving crops like coffee.

Ecotourism

Aside from specific initiatives and organizations, Costa Rica has also been investing in its ecotourism industry as one of the country’s biggest assets. Many people from around the world travel to Costa Rica to take in the nation’s natural beauty and diverse wildlife, so the government knows that increasing the quality of its tourist attractions and facilities will allow it to attract and take in more tourists. This creates a positive cycle that creates many jobs (such as tour guides), keeps tourists coming to the country and maintains protection of the environment. The government began efforts to protect the environment in the 1990s, and since then, it has instituted many laws and regulations that protect this asset. In fact, Costa Rica outlawed hunting for sport in 2012, a move that protects the balance of the ecosystem, forests and fertile farmland.

Protection for the Future

Like many other countries, Costa Rica experiences an urban-rural poverty divide. Approximately 30 percent of rural homes fall below the poverty line compared to more than 19 percent of urban homes. That said, Costa Rica has made progress in terms of combatting rural poverty while also pushing and incentivizing greener practices for poorer farmers and landowners. Though many issues require solving, the government has clearly found an effective way to address both poverty and environmentalism in Costa Rica at the same time, thus creating a sustainable economic climate with more opportunities for farmers and rural landowners to emerge from poverty.

– Ethan Marchetti
Photo: Flickr

The effects of tourism on Honduras

Honduras has a population of over 9 million people. Tourism accounts for 10.4 percent of Honduras’ GDP, and this percentage has been continually rising in recent years. It is estimated that 1 million international tourists will visit the country this year alone. Tourism in Honduras has both negative and positive effects on the country’s residents. While tourism provides a boost for the economy, it can adversely affect the environment.

Negative Effects

In recent years, tourism has exponentially grown in Honduras. One such example can be seen in Roatán. Tourism in Roatán created a widening gap between the rich and the poor. As of 2016, 60.9 percent of the people of Honduras lived in poverty. Unless one works in tourism, it is likely he or she will be impoverished.

In addition, tourism can have harmful effects on the environment. Tourism in Honduras is no exception. From 1985 to 2004, development in Roatán increased overall by 300 percent. Due to this development, lush trees and mangroves were removed. Also, tourism can negatively impact coral reefs. Roatán is situated by the Meso-American reef.

Positive Effects

However, not all aspects of tourism are so bleak. Responsible tourism in Honduras and across the globe can work to mitigate the negative effects. For example, reusable water bottles can help eliminate waste. Additionally, supporting businesses that hire locals can benefit more people.

Agricultural jobs have decreased greatly in recent years throughout the Caribbean. In Honduras, during the past 20 years, nearly one-third of the revenue from agriculture has been lost. With tourism, people can switch away from an agriculture-based society. Indeed, tourism offers development and economic growth. In Honduras, tourism contributes to 14.6 percent of the economy and it creates numerous jobs. In the last five years, one in five new jobs in Honduras was in the field of tourism. Additionally, tourism accounts for 12.9 percent of jobs in Honduras. These employment opportunities provide a new outlet of work for people living in touristic cities.

Also, tourism raises awareness on issues that people may have never encountered before visiting the region. With increased knowledge, travelers can return home and work to implement positive changes. Traveling abroad is a wonderful learning experience. Tourists find themselves immersed in a culture other than their own. With such rich histories, tourism provides an excellent mode of hands-on learning.

Organizations Working to Combat the Negative Effects

Thankfully, there are organizations actively fighting the negative effects of tourism in Honduras and throughout the globe. For example, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) encourages sustainability and conservation in tourist areas. This nonprofit organization offers classes in tourism management, ecotourism and sustainable growth. Through their certificate program, participants learn about conservation and responsible tourism.

The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), another non-profit, seeks to reform current tourism policies to protect the cultural diversity and people of tourist cities. CREST consults members of the tourism industry to share knowledge regarding ecotourism, stewardship, and innovations in tourism. In addition, the organization has projects promoting safe and responsible tourism based in countries across the globe, with their most recent project located in Cuba.

– Carolyn Newsome
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Sardinia
Sardinia, Italian Sardegna, is an Italian island in the mediterranean sea that is no stranger to poverty. The economic hardship increased after the 2008 recession. Beginning in 2010, a variety of workers and artisans found themselves at risk of losing their jobs. For example, shepherds and independent farmers were losing business to larger farming companies and small entrepreneurs and independent contractors had to compete with privatization. So, they took to the streets of the regional capital city in Cagliari in protest. Now, Italy is looking to sustainable development and ecotourism to alleviate poverty in Sardinia.

Poverty Overall

Italy really began showing signs of economic recovery in 2017. In the first quarter of 2017, its GDP went up 0.5 percent, business morale was at its highest in a decade and export volumes had risen 2.8 percent over the first eight months of the year. The economic recovery, however, has not played out evenly. Life is getting worse for many Italians. The number of Italians living in extreme poverty had increased from 4.7 million in 2016 to 5 million by the end of 2017 despite that fact that the economic recovery has slowly been gaining traction on a macro level.

Poverty in Sardinia did not skip a beat. The percent of poor individuals living in Sardinia increased from 16 percent in 2016 to 21.4 percent in 2017, according to ISTAT. To compound the issue, the unemployment rate in Sardinia was 17 percent in 2017, which was considerably higher than Italy’s overall 11 percent rate in 2017. The island suffers from high emigration, a negative rate of population growth and a low population density of 40 inhabitants per square mile, which is almost one-third of the average in Italy.

Despite the issue of poverty in Sardinia, the inhabitants of the island live a very long time, especially in the village of Tiana where the proportion of centenarians is found to be 3 times higher than in other parts of Italy. Researchers believe this is true because of the social fabric of the region. The elderly in Tiana tend to lead longer and happier lives because of the degree of social interaction they enjoy. Italy is working to improve condition on the island by capitalizing on the history and culture of the region.

Efforts to Combat Poverty in Sardinia

To combat poverty in Sardinia and promote economic development, the country has embraced a model of sustainable development. In 2013, the island became the first sustainable destination in the Mediterranean. Part of Sardinia’s commitment to sustainability comes from the fact that the island is a huge promoter of green energy, hosting more than 2000 companies in the green supply chain and using renewable energies through its numerous wind and solar farms.

Ecotourism is gaining momentum on the island. Almost 200,000 more tourists visited the Sardinia in April and May 2017 than in the previous year during the same time. Sardinia’s beautiful coasts boast nearly unspoiled beaches and reefs. Tourists can go diving to see the protected marine life or one of the many underwater archeological sites in the region. There are a variety of things to do and see on the different islands in Sardinia depending on the interests of the tourists.

Tourism in the summer months is very popular and helps to combat low employment rates. The ecotourists and elites that visit the island during the summer months bring employment and capital to the coastal regions of the island, but the interior does not benefit from summer tourism. Sardinians living in the interior have recently taken strides to develop a cultural tourism industry. Sardinians who live in the interior believe there is an opportunity for increased tourism since the heritage of the island–cultural, linguistic, artistic and musical–has been fiercely preserved. They have begun attracting tourists to the interior by hosting successful festivals that draw out the unique characteristics of each region.

Although there is still a significant number of people living in poverty in Sardinia, efforts are underway to greatly alleviate the situation by capitalizing on the island’s beauty and rich cultural history. Ecotourism and sustainable energy are going a long way to improve the living conditions in Sardinia and bring in new business opportunities to continue building a prosperous economy.

Photo: Flickr

Costa Rica bans single use plastics

Costa Rica will become the first country to ban single-use plastics in an effort to meet its goal of eliminating them from the country by 2021. The ban will include straws, cutlery, bags, bottles and cups made from plastic.

Costa Rica has already been a world leader for environmental protection. The country has reversed its deforestation and doubled its forest cover from 26 percent in 1984 to 52 percent in 2017. However, one-fifth of the country’s 4,000 tonnes of solid waste produced daily is not disposed of correctly and ends up in the Costa Rican landscape and shoreline.

Costa Rica is not alone in its issue with plastic waste. According to the findings by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2016, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if current consumption and disposal trends continue.

More Than Just an Environmental Impact

This waste harms not only the environment but also Costa Rica’s economy. Tourism and ecotourism are staples in the Costa Rican economy. The country cannot afford the environmental decay not only because they care for the environment but also because a large number of Costa Ricans rely on ecotourism for income.

Costa Rica plans to change how the country uses and disposes of plastics in an effort to help its environment and its people. Because the country’s economy depends largely on tourism, the move to ban single-use plastics will help with job creation and stability in the country as the landscape are improved and more ecotourism opportunities are produced. Citizens will be able to work at national parks, as well as in businesses that have an ecotourism model.

By ensuring the health and stability of its environment, Costa Rica is ensuring that jobs remain and grow. In addition to job security, the health of the country’s people will improve in conjunction with the health of the land. With less air and water pollution there will be fewer harmful chemicals posing a risk to Costa Ricans.

Sustainable Development

The Costa Rican government has made it clear that they believe this single-use plastic ban to be for the benefit of all people, not only for the environment. As a part of their larger Sustainable Development Goals, Costa Rica believes it is necessary to bring balance to all sectors — social, economic and environmental — in order to be a more egalitarian country.

In order to accomplish this, the country will establish a plan to accompany the new legislation. As Costa Rica phases out single-use plastics, the government will have measures in place that protect the people affected by the ban in social and economic ways as well.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, the plan Costa Rica is establishing for the ban of single-use plastics will be one “that cares for people’s health, ensures fair wages and equal opportunities for women and men, while taking care of forests and wetlands.” These are important steps in creating the sustainable balance that Costa Rica strives to achieve.

While this plan is yet to be released, Costa Rica will continue to be caring for impoverished people, providing equality in work between men and women as well as working to significantly better the environment in which its citizens live.

Once Costa Rica bans single-use plastics, they will be an example to the rest of the world for how environmental change can benefit not only the land in which people live but also the people living on the land.

– Savannah Hawley
Photo: Flickr

blast_fishingFishermen in Zanzibar used to use blast fishing, which is an illegal fishing technique using explosives to maximize catch. In combination with climate change, blast fishing threatens the coastal ecosystem, Mariculture and the local economy of Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Identifying the problem, the World Bank launches the SWIOFish program to protect priority fisheries in the African region. Guided by the program, increasing fishermen in Zanzibar turn to ecotourism and seaweed farming to conserve the coastal ecosystem, protect Zanzibar’s fisheries and grow the local economy.

“Blast fishing destroys the fish habitats underwater, where fish reproduce, and that has had a big impact, especially on us who use ring nets to fish,” says a 32-year-old fisherman and added that, “the number of fish has drastically reduced we are not able to catch many fish like before.”

“We face many challenges,” says Ramia Tlia, project coordinator of SWIOFish. “Blast fishing ruins the entire ecosystem and biodiversity by turning coral reef into ashes and destroying all kinds of fish species. Illegal fishing by industrial trawlers is another issue that, along with the volatility of climate change, deeply impacts livelihoods in the region.”

In order to conserve the coastal ecosystem and protect the fisheries in the southwest Indian Ocean, the World Bank identified key high-value fisheries and current obstacles to marine fisheries in these areas and launched the SWIOFish program.

The new South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Program (SWIOFish) is aimed to improve the management effectiveness of selected priority fisheries at the regional, national and community levels. It contributes to the World Bank Group’s corporate goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity in a sustainable fashion.

The program includes Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania and Seychelles. SWIOFish in Tanzania, for example, focuses on tuna, prawns, small pelagics, octopus, reef fisheries and mariculture, such as seaweed, so as to strengthen the local employment on the economy of fisheries and mariculture.

Seaweed fishing was established a long time ago in Zanzibar and has been one of its key exports since the early 1990s. However, due to climate change, the slowly-warming water reduces seaweed. Last year, they lost four tons of seaweed due to warmer weather. In order to conserve the coastal ecosystem, fishermen in Zanzibar embrace seaweed farming and advocate ecotourism.

The SWIOFish program is based on coastal community involvement and cooperates with the government in the daily management of marine resources. The opportunities of ecotourism have increased since communities started participating in the management of the Menai Bay Conservation Area, which is a popular haven for whale tourism, fishing and diving, and Jozani Chwaka Park, which is famous for its mangroves and rare Colobus Monkeys.

Based on the good governance from SWIOFish program, ecotourism and seaweed farming, it’s possible to transform livelihoods, protect fisheries and develop the economy-based, local fisheries sectors in Zanzibar.

– Shengyu Wang
Photo: reefkeeping