Costa Rica Ranked Third Place in World-Renowned Environmental Index
The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) gives Costa Ricans cause for celebration as the country is rated third in a detailed analysis of data from 163 countries in the World. The EPI was presented on the 28th of January this year to the World Economic Forum, where experts from the prestigious Yale and Columbia Universities were responsible for explaining the lengthy report. The index ranking system is based on a possible maximum score of 100 points. Costa Rica scored 86.4 on this scale. Neighboring countries Panama and Nicaragua were in 24th and 93rd places respectively, with scores of 71.4 and 57.4 in comparison.
Costa Rica’s placing in the index is especially significant when it is considered that the other countries in the top five positions of the index are all European: Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway and the USA ranked poorly in 61st place in the index.
The EPI is based on research in two main areas: environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. Within these two categories are indicators such as environmental health, air quality, water resource management, biodiversity and habitat, forests, fisheries and climate change. Those countries like Costa Rica which ranked very highly in the EPI were acknowledged as having made ‘substantial investments in environmental infrastructure, pollution control and policies designed to move toward long-term sustainability.
This report follows on the heels of the much publicized Happy Planet Index (HPI) of July 2009 which rated Costa Rica as the nation which is the happiest place to live out of 143 countries in the world and 99% of the world’s population. This news was of no surprise to the patriotic Ticos who have been fully aware of this fact for many years. The HPI ranking system is based on use of the world’s resources and the general well-being of the population, showing that Costa Ricans are happy and environmentally aware. The New Economics Foundation indicated in the report that Costa Rica was also very close to reaching the goal of ‘one-planet living’; in other words the population are near to only using what would be their rightful quota of the planet’s resources.
Costa Ricans have a high life expectancy and high level of well-being and contentment with their daily living, but have a relatively small “ecological footprint” which puts them at the top of the HPI’s ranking. The country only narrowly fails to achieve the goal of what NEF calls “one-planet living”: consuming its fair share of the Earth’s natural resources. Interestingly, unlike the EPI, Latin American countries generally ranked highly in the HPI, suggesting a Latino lifestyle of ‘mañana’ is better for your well-being and happiness that the stressful now of the Western world. How reassuring!
If you are looking for absolute perfection, then do bear in mind the National Geographic’s rating of Atenas in Costa Rica’s Central Valley as the place in the world with the best climate for human existence. The town is a little higher that San Jose but still within the mountains. The location is responsible for the warm days, cool nights and light rainfall which create climatic bliss. In Costa Rica, you really can have it all!
Posted originally on
Guardian Online (July 2009)
EPI press release 28/01/10