Latin America

Costa Rica has made significant investments in conserving its abundant natural resources, with great success. For instance, 52% of the country is now covered with forests, while more than 90% of electricity is generated by renewable sources. Yet information on the value of natural capital’s contributions to society remains sparse.

WAVES in Costa Rica

With support from WAVES, Costa Rica is developing two natural asset accounts to address key questions and inform policy decisions. A national water account will integrate hydrological, economic, and social data in a coherent and consistent framework, while a forest account will incorporate physical and monetary values of services provided by forests and estimate the economy-wide impact of an expanding forest cover.  

Costa Rica is at a crucial juncture in building the foundations of green growth. WAVES is contributing in particular to the National Plan for Integrated Management of Water Resources and the National Plan for Deforestation Reduction and Forest Development. 

The Story So Far

Water accounts: While information gathering from government organizations is an ongoing process, preliminary water accounts have been compiled based on existing data and estimates produced by the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR). The sources used include water statistics from national accounts, hydrological balances, water use and pollution databases, and financial statements by water utilities. A case study on water accounts from the ESPH—a regional water utility that over a decade ago started a payment mechanism for protecting water resources—is under development. Water account modules and indicators are underway.

Forest accounts: Early results are available from forest accounts, incorporating physical and monetary values. BCCR representatives are coordinating with the National System of Conservation Areas and the National Forest Financing Fund to analyze the findings from the new national forest inventory and a carbon dynamics study for REDD+. Results from this work will feed into the forest account’s integrated modules.

WAVES lead government agency

Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR)

Country steering committee

Edgar Gutiérrez-Espeleta, Minister of the Environment and Energy, Chairman; Henry Vargas-Campos, Director of Macroeconomic Statistics at the Central Bank of Costa Rica; Fernando Rodríguez, Vice minister of Finance; Luis Fallas, Vice minister of National Planning and Economic Policy; and Floribel Méndez-Fonseca, Manager at the National Institute of Statistics and Census.

Country coordinators

Luis Rivera and Glenda Carvajal

World Bank/WAVES regional staff

Christian Peter and Juan-Pablo Castaneda