Costa Rica, Punching Above Its Weight, Competitively

“I’m very comfortable with the word ‘revolution,’ ” Figueres said.

“I’m very comfortable with the word ‘revolution,’ ” Figueres said.

Usually “punching above your weight” is a reference to a competition you are not prepared to win. But based on our experience in and observation of Costa Rica it means something entirely different to us. It means something more like: go for it! Give it your best even if the odds are not with you. If not you, then who?

We all have a debt, of one sort or another, to Costa Rica from my perspective if only for this reason. In so many ways it has been inspirational in an against-the-odds sort of way. And who can resist a bit of inspiration?

I shared this article with the La Paz Group teams in India and Costa Rica yesterday, with a note about how it helps understand the challenges related to climate change and what can be done about those challenges—all relevant to the 3 C’s of La Paz Group. Complicated stuff, but clearly important.

I also shared the article for another reason. The woman who features in this article is from Costa Rica, and reading it you can understand a bit better why Costa Rica is so frequently mentioned as an environmentally responsible country. This is important for all of us in La Paz Group because our journey began in Costa Rica, which started our path to Kerala, India and many other places beyond.

To give one small but important example of the long range impact of Costa Rica on La Paz Group, consider the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program developed two decades ago under the visionary leadership of the president of Costa Rica (brother of the subject of the linked article here). Jocelyn is at Xandari Costa Rica specifically to work on getting Xandari to rise up to the highest level from its current status at the second highest level of CST ranking. She has made this the foundation of her career development just after graduating from one of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions. It is impressive that she chose to do so, but equally telling about the lasting impact of Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainable development.

Jocelyn’s work, in turn, has further motivated our Xandari properties in Kerala to self-certify using the same criteria applied in Costa Rica.  We want all our properties operating at the highest level of demonstrated commitment to sustainability. I am impressed, but should not be surprised. I was invited to serve on the board of directors of the CST program at the time of its founding, and remember an explicit discussion of the long term goal: we start in Costa Rica but share the knowhow with whomever, wherever in the world, wants to adopt these standards.

CST is not as recognizable as “organic” or “fair trade” certification, but here we are two decades on pushing the CST into India, so I have reasonable expectation that the day will come when CST or something like it will be as indispensable to consumer choice about hotels as “organic” is in grocery shopping today. And apart from this small example, Costa Rica’s commitment to and lead-by-example accomplishments with protected areas, universal healthcare and education, demilitarization, gender equity, and not least to democracy are all reasons to consider: come see the place to better understand it.

When we moved to Costa Rica two decades ago to begin the work that we now call La Paz Group we had no clue what was ahead for us. But if you read this article you will have some clue about how and why things turned out for us as they did:

…The Framework Convention on Climate Change is overseen by an organization known as the Secretariat, which is led by a Costa Rican named Christiana Figueres. Figueres is five feet tall, with short brown hair and strikingly different-colored eyes—one blue and one hazel. In contrast to most diplomats, who cultivate an air of professional reserve, Figueres is emotive to the point of disarming—“a mini-volcano” is how one of her aides described her to me. She laughs frequently—a hearty, ha-ha-ha chortle—and weeps almost as often. “I walk around with Kleenex,” another aide told me…

Read the whole article here.

One thought on “Costa Rica, Punching Above Its Weight, Competitively

  1. Pingback: Entrepreneurship, Ghana and Bamboo Bikes | Raxa Collective

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