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"Green but not blue"

Though Costa Rica had the highest deforestation rate in Latin America in the 1980s, in the following decades its conservation model has enabled the country to safeguard a large part of its biodiversity. Forest cover now accounts for 52% of the nation's territory and 99% of its energy is clean and renewable.

Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who is just about to finish his term as president, is proud of Costa Rica's current track record but believes that the country can go even further. Describing the nation as "green, but not blue", he wants to replicate in marine ecosystems the conservation model that has been successfully implemented in terrestrial ecosystems. This prompted the announcement at the COP26 summit that Costa Rica would be participating in a vast new protected marine area. Governments from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama have signed the new Declaration for the Conservation of the Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific. The region is home to a variety of endangered species of marine mammals, sharks and turtles. 

Following this agreement, in December 2021 the president also signed a decree expanding Cocos Island National Park. This will increase the fully protected area by 27 times, from 2,034 km2 to 54,844 km2. Located 535 kilometers off the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, the Cocos Marine Conservation Area is world renowned for its biological richness and endemism. This new decree, as well as the creation of the Bicentennial Seamounts Marine Management Area, will protect marine resources and ensure the protection of fragile species and ecosystems into the future.

Christian Guillermet, the Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs, highlighted the value of ocean ecosystems for global health. He pointed out that Costa Rica, which is bordered by two oceans (the Atlantic and the Pacific) has a marine territory that is more than 10 times larger than the continental one. "This implies a source of great wealth for our country, but also represents a great responsibility," said the Vice Minister.

Regarding Ocean Diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry also highlights the value of multilateralism as the ideal way to protect the environment. During the One Planet Summit, Costa Rica, together with France and the United Kingdom, launched the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, which aims to protect 30% of the planet's terrestrial and marine ecosystems by 2030. The intergovernmental initiative has the commitment of some fifty countries and the "30X30" goal sets a global target aimed at preventing species loss and protecting ecosystems that are vital for economic security and human health.

"We must protect our terrestrial and marine ecosystems," stated President Alvarado. "Part of our global commitment is to help halt the accelerating loss of species and protect vital ecosystems that underpin both our food and economic security."


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Elections in Costa Rica: a new opportunity to celebrate our democracy


Costa Rica is a democratic republic which holds national and municipal elections every four years. Citizens have a choice of voting for different several political parties. 


Three and a half million Costa Ricans are able to vote in the national elections on Sunday, February 6, 2022. They will elect the president along with two vice-presidents and the 57 deputies of the Legislative Assembly for 2022-2026.


Voting abroad


Costa Rica guarantees citizens their political right to vote. The TSE has provided the necessary provisions for Costa Ricans living permanently or temporarily abroad to be able to vote in the presidential elections.


In accordance with Article 187 of the Electoral Code, Costa Ricans may exercise their right to vote abroad to elect the President and Vice-Presidents of the Republic, as well as to vote in national referendums, i.e. referendum processes.


Every four years during the national elections the Costa Rican consulates worldwide become an arm of the TSE in order to allow citizens to vote abroad. For the upcoming elections, 973 voters are registered at the Consulate General of Costa Rica in Germany and will be able to vote for the President and Vice-President of the Republic.


What are the requirements to become President of Costa Rica?

Persons who wish to occupy the presidency and vice-presidencies (according to article 131 of the Constitution) have to fulfil certain requirements. They must be:


- Costa Rican by birth

- An active citizen 

- Older than 30 years old

- Not be part of the Church hierarchy


In Costa Rica, in order to win the presidency, a person must obtain at least 40% of the votes. If none of the candidates obtain this percentage, the two people with the most votes go to a second round. 


In addition, a person who has held the presidency of the Republic can be re-elected to the post, but for that to happen, he or she must wait eight years after the period in which he or she last held office.


What is the TSE?


The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) in Costa Rica was one of the main institutional innovations of the Political Constitution of 1949 and has as its primary function the "organisation, direction and supervision of the acts related to suffrage."  This model of electoral organisation constituted a milestone in public law not only for Costa Rica, but for all of Latin America, as the TSE has the status of the fourth branch of the State, equating it with the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. 


Mission and functions


Electoral administration: The TSE organises, directs and controls all acts related to suffrage. 


Civil registry: The TSE issues identity cards, prepares the electoral roll and registers and certifies all acts related to civil matters, including birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, acquisition of Costa Rican nationality or death. 


Jurisdictional: The TSE has the power to issue non-appealable rulings on electoral matters.


Formation in democracy: The Institute for Training and Studies in Democracy (Instituto de Formación y Estudios en Democracia) is a specialised unit of the TSE that focuses on the promotion of democratic values and active citizenship. It also provides support to the education system, electoral training to political parties and promotes research on elections and democracy.

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