The Green Climate Fund (GCF) awarded Costa Rica $54.1 million for the protection of forests, in recognition of the country’s achievements in reducing emissions, the government reported Tuesday.
The non-reimbursable funds were granted in the form of “payment for results,” through which the GCF recognizes the efforts of countries to respond to the climate crisis and provides funds to continue with policies it considers successful.
“The financial support in which this international recognition is translated will allow us to strengthen two key programs,” the Minister of the Environment, Andrea Meza, said in a statement.
She cited the Payment for Environmental Services (PSA) program, which allocates funds to the preservation of forests and benefits 24,000 people, and the Forest Fire Control program.
The minister stressed that the financial crisis facing the Central American country, aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, put those two programs in danger.
Costa Rica thus became the first country in Central America to receive resources from the GCF, a mechanism created within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The fund accepted the proposal made by Costa Rica to recognize the capture of 14.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide via its forests in the 2014-2015 period.
The PSA program provides resources to owners who preserve forests. It has been considered essential for Costa Rica to increase its forest cover from about 25% in the 1980s to 52% today.
The Costa Rican territory is home to 6% of the planet’s biodiversity, according to official figures.
Most PSA projects are financed with a tax on hydrocarbons, but the government acknowledged that the pandemic caused a severe drop in those revenues.
“Costa Rica shows the world that environmental sustainability is economically viable and socially inclusive,” said José Vicente Troya Rodríguez, representative of the UN Development Program (UNDP) in the country.