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Sunday, April 12, 2009

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Alex Tolley

“In Costa Rica, the minister of environment sets the policy for energy, mines, water and natural resources,” explained Carlos M. Rodríguez, who served in that post from 2002 to 2006. In most countries, he noted, “ministers of environment are marginalized.” They are viewed as people who try to lock things away, not as people who create value. Their job is to fight energy ministers who just want to drill for cheap oil.

This is a remarkably enlightened policy and in stark contrast to almost every other country. Costa Rica has made eco-tourism a major export goal and it is the first place that comes to mind in this sphere. The process could be applied to almost any country, truly balancing demands from competing interests. However having one minister in charge is still a potential problem - economic problems could sway the balance strongly in favor of environmentally poor development.

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