Costa Rica’s rich ecosystems provide a suite of life-sustaining services, from food provision to air filtration. The country’s mangrove forests shield coastlands from storm surges, prevent erosion, sequester carbon, and filtrate water. But pressure and degradation of these vital ecosystems pose an existential threat to the health, wealth and safety of Costa Ricans. Credible and high-quality data that can map these issues could drive better decision-making and reporting – and help the country boost progress across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UNDP and partners support Costa Rica to use spatial data to identify essential life support areas (ELSAs) that together conserve critical biodiversity and provide humans with ecosystem services, such as carbon storage, food security, water filtration and disaster risk reduction. By highlighting where action for nature can lead to the greatest benefits across diverse national priorities, maps of Costa Rica’s ELSAs enhance national decision-making for people and planet and will help the country to more effectively deliver on the SDGs and the three Rio Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification. This is a first of its kind effort to develop science-based maps for policy implementation based on national priorities, convening 30 national and 20 international institutions. In 2021, a third iteration of the ELSA map was developed to focus specifically on nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation. This map will serve as a crucial input to the National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change 2022-2026.
“We will promote the use of this technology at the national and international levels to identify areas where implementation of nature-based solutions can lead to greater environmental, economic and social benefits”, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica.