Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



Using Costa Rica as an example, this paper will address the problem of climate change and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the climate change planning policies that are utilized in Costa Rica. This study reveals how the Costa Rican government has been proactive in terms of its climate change policies. The Costa Rican government has always been an active participant in international conferences on climate change. Costa Rica aims for carbon neutrality by the year 2021. As Costa Rica is so far ahead in terms of developing effective climate policy, other countries can look to Costa Rica as an example. Costa Rica’s current policies that address climate change include the National Development Plan (2010-2014), the Forestry Law of 1996, and Costa Rica’s Payments for Environmental Services Program (PPSA). The Forestry Law of 1996 listed four environmental services: carbon sequestration, protection of water, biodiversity protection and ecosystem protection. The PPSA is a leading effort that has made great strides in charging water users for ecosystem services. Though Costa Rica had begun to regain forest before PPSA was implemented, the program has been instrumental in helping Costa Rica rebound to 2.67m ha, or 52.4%, forest cover in 2010. However, the program could be improved with better targeting and the use of undifferentiated payments. Needs include: (1) accounting for land use and its affect on climate change patterns, and (2) collecting data about the extent to which the PPSA program is actually generating environmental services.



Document Type


Degree Name

Community and Regional Planning

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Fleming, William

Second Committee Member

Erickson, Rebecca


climate change planning, climate change policy, Costa Rica, carbon neutrality, payments for environmental services

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