Costa Rica on Sunday was named one of the winners of the Earthshot Prize, an initiative led by Prince William to award environmental stewardship.
The country joined four other winners, and each received a £1 million award. Costa Rica won in the “Protect & Restore Nature” category.
Costa Rica was awarded for Payment for Environmental Services (PSA), a program that has been instrumental in recovering the nation’s forest cover.
As the Earthshot Prize explains:
Forests are home to half our plants and animals and three quarters of our birds. They suck carbon from the air and return the oxygen we breathe. Yet in 2020 more trees were felled than ever before, causing 10% of global warming.
In the 1990s, the vast forests of Costa Rica were devastated, half their former size. But the people of Costa Rica and their Ministry for Environment had a plan to save them. Its programmes paid citizens to protect forests, plant trees, and restore ecosystems.
The results were extraordinary. Costa Rica’s forests doubled in size. Flora and fauna thrived which led to a boom in ecotourism, contributing $4 billion to the economy.
“This award is an opportunity to strengthen conservation in our national treasure, Cocos Island, and the waters of the Pacific and the Caribbean,” said Costa Rica’s Environment and Energy Minister, Andrea Meza.
The Earthshot Prize, launched last October, was inspired by US president John F. Kennedy’s “Moonshot” project in the 1960s to put a man on the moon.
Each of the finalists — chosen by experts from more than 750 nominations — is given help from leading private sector businesses to develop their projects.
New Earthshot Prize winners be awarded every year for a decade.