The United Nations has selected Costa Rica as its 2019 Champions of the Earth award for policy leadership, the organization announced Friday.
Citing Costa Rica’s plan to decarbonize its economy by 2050, the UN says the Central American country “sets an example for the region and for the world.”
“Costa Rica has been a pioneer in the protection of peace and nature,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, in a press release.
“Climate change demands urgent and transformative action from all of us. With its ambitious plans to decarbonize the economy, Costa Rica is rising to that challenge. Global emissions are reaching record levels and we must act now to move to cleaner, more resilient economies.”
The UN commended Costa Rica for generating 98% of its energy from renewable sources and for its ongoing reforestation efforts.
The country also hopes to transition to electric vehicles and trains in the capital of San José as part of its decarbonization plan; the first hybrid buses arrived earlier this year.
“Receiving the Champions of the Earth award on behalf of Costa Rica, its entire population, the past generations who protected the environment, and future generations fills me with pride and emotion for what Costa Rica has achieved and for what we can continue to do because we can achieve even more,” said President Carlos Alvarado. “I feel very proud to be Costa Rican.”
The distinction was announced as the UN prepares for its Climate Action Summit, to be held in New York on Sept. 23. President Alvarado is scheduled to attend, and Costa Rica will be honored at a gala ceremony alongside four other Champions of the Earth winners on Sept. 26.