Environmental Law of Costa Rica
DEVELOPMENT AND ENFORCEMENT
OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS, Costa Rica has kept pace with the evolution of environmental policy in the Central American region and the Caribbean, developing a fairly complete legal frame and, in general, a good set of policies. However, Costa Rica has also followed the general global trend, despite the importance that environmental issues have gained, by allowing the destruction of biodiversity to continue at an accelerated pace (see chapters 7, 12, 15, 21, and 23). Multiple declarations and agreements at the international level have not succeeded in stopping this worldwide destruction, as has been recognized by world authorities who attended the Ministers of the Environment World Forum (Ministers of the Environment World Forum 2000): “There is an alarming discrepancy between commitments and action. The goals and priorities agreed upon by the international community regarding sustainable development, like the adoption of national strategies and the increased help to developing countries, must go beyond what has been done until now. ” Further, it was pointed out that the main threats against the environment, which were discussed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, are now global and have been sharpened by extreme consumer habits.
In Costa Rica, environmental destruction is, at least in part, the product of poor interpretation and lack of enforcement of the laws, as well as of shortcomings in the laws and public policies themselves. On the one hand, we must consider that attitude change begins with education and that sanctions and fines should be used as secondary measures. However, this change in attitude has yet to be systematically encouraged. The policies coming out of public institutions have been more of control and short-term responses than of prevention, education, and participation. The policies for biodiversity protection are also vertically controlled, which means that all respective duties are granted to only one