Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA) 

Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Country overview

Costa Rica is in Central America and has a varied topography that includes coastal plains separated by rugged mountains, including over 100 volcanic cones and inhabits around 5 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. Costa Rica is among global leaders in responding to climate change, with a long history of environmental protection, sustainable development, and action on climate change mitigation. Costa Rica’s vulnerability to extreme climate events and natural hazards is a result of the presence of populations in areas prone to volcanic eruptions and unstable lands, degraded by wide-spread cattle ranching, or in poorly planned settlements prone to landslides and flooding. A total of 36 percent of Costa Rica’s land use is attributed to agriculture, and it accounts for 14 percent of the country’s employment. 

Costa Rica's climate change plans and priorities

Costa Rica’s National Climate Change Adaptation Policy (2018-2030), states the priorities with respect to agricultural sustainable production, namely the 1) promotion of adaptation based on ecosystems outside the State's natural heritage, through the conservation of biodiversity in biological corridors, private reserves and farms under forest regime 2) promotion of water security in the face of climate change, through the protection and monitoring of sources and proper management of hydrological basins. The National Development Plan (2019-2022) reaffirmed the ambitious goal to promote a carbon neutral economy by 2021 and laid out strategies to promote renewable energy, reduce GHG emissions, and consider adaptation initiatives.   

In 2016, Costa Rica submitted its first NDC. Costa Rica’s National Climate Change Adaptation Policy (2018-2030), as well as the National Decarbonization Plan (2018-2050) and the NAMA coffee, NAMA livestock, NAMA sugarcane and NAMA Musaceae (banana), reflect some of the country’s key agri-food chains, which are livestock, coffee, rice, Musaceae and cane sugar. The country’s NDC aims to consolidate an agricultural model that is based on sound approaches in existing policies and strategies. To date, the country has developed a National Low Carbon Livestock Strategy, a National Low-emission Coffee Strategy, and the Low Carbon Banana Strategy, which focus on reducing risks and vulnerabilities in these value chains.

Overcoming barriers in the implementation of climate plans

Costa Rica has developed policies and prioritized implementing transformative action in value chains, however, knowledge remains a key barrier because transformative change requires the adoption of new technologies. A second barrier experienced in Costa Rica is the availability of financing mechanisms that reduce risks for different actors, including investors, in the value chain. Lastly, there is a need to strengthen the institutional frameworks that oversee these processes, mainly at the early stages. The COVID-19 pandemic was a huge challenge – like for many countries, but Costa Rica managed to keep the value chains in operation and reported growth in agricultural exports, while still maintaining adequate levels of supply to the national market during these challenging times. The pandemic exposed how valuable the agriculture sectors are and demonstrated the resilience of agricultural producers. 

Moving ahead- 2021 and beyond

The FAO-UNDP SCALA programme can contribute to strengthening market access for products developed through low-carbon value chains to help increase the capital flow to communities (at the farm level) that adopt technologies and help contribute to scaling up climate action. The SCALA programme will support Costa Rica in transforming how the agriculture and land use sectors operate and incorporating adaptation and mitigation measures. In addition to the support on soil management practices, SCALA in Cosa Rica will support the resilience of family farmers to cope with pathogens, so they have the resources to invest in sustainable low-carbon practices. The country is currently developing a road map for its National Adaptation Plan and aims to strengthen conservation initiatives and expand its environmental services payments program to include ecosystem-based adaptation. Costa Rica continues to promote renewable energies, stronger environmental management practices through agroforestry systems and watershed management, as well as tools for municipal-level land use planning to reduce the long-term vulnerabilities of its population and enhance its food security.

The infographic is also available in Spanish | Disponible en Español.