Creating Climate Wealth in Costa Rica

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Simone Skopek
Energy & Sustainability Services

Notwithstanding the online world of social networking, it’s fun to catch up with an old university friend in person, and find out that you have developed parallel professional interests. This happened on a recent holiday to Costa Rica, where we bumped into Miguel, an old friend we hadn’t seen for decades, who heads up Sustainable Rural Development in Central America.

Interestingly, we had just been immersed in a book called Creating Climate Wealth by Jigar Shah, which offers a road map to the business opportunities from deploying existing sustainable technologies on an appropriate scale. Surrounded by the sound of jungle birds and drinking exquisite, organic local Costa Rican coffee, Miguel confirmed the thesis of the book:  that a country’s sustainable development is not dependent on creating new green technologies (there are more than enough of those). Nor is it about expensive government programs or charitable investments that “come from the heart”. Instead, the recipe calls for private entrepreneurship, with a good business case, financial discipline and survivability. A final ingredient is sound government policy to promote local entrepreneurship through regulation and tax structures.

Investment opportunities in Costa Rica include sustainable construction and incentives to build renewable energy – (primarily bio-fuel) plants. Once developers’ plans are approved,  they may import all necessary materials “duty free”, and be exempt from paying operating taxes for a period of time. Projects are also eligible for creating certified carbon offset credits of significant value. As the carbon offset market is poised for growth, this offers terrific potential for high yields for investors and developers.

Named the “greenest (and happiest)” nation in the world by the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica is a case study of a country that “gets it”, with investment opportunities and incentives for sustainable development that are underpinned by basic rules of mainstream capital investing and judicious government regulation and tax incentives.

It’s also a nice place to go for holiday!

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