The Public Manifesto In Defense of Nature was originally published in Spanish in coordination with World Environment Day. The institutions and individual signatories to this document voiced their concerns regarding what they feel is a divide between public policy and the enforcement of that policy to mitigate the effects of a deterioration in the national environment. The Manifesto singles out Puerto Viejo, Golfo Duce, and the Osa Peninsula.
It goes on to address issues relating to water supply in the Central Valley, and threats to the coastline from planned marina projects. It takes MINAE to task for not performing its environmental evaluation and control responsibilities.
It calls for a suspension of residential projects and large capacity luxury hotels in Guanacoste and the Central Pacific area. The protection of water rights is also an issue addressed in the document. The pineapple industry is also referenced as a contributor to environmental contamination and land erosion, along with the calling attention to illegal fishing in protected marine areas.
The full text of the Public Manifesto In Defense of Nature is printed here in its entirety, including the list of individual signatories.
PUBLIC MANIFESTO IN DEFENSE OF NATURE
The environmental organizations, entities and academic programs of Costa Rica, political figures and the rest of the people involved on the defense of the environment sign this MANIFESTO,
WE JOIN THE CELEBRATIONS of the World Environment Day and congratulate the Government Agencies and State Public Institutions, as well as the private companies that yesterday, June 5, were part of this global celebration in a variety of paid adverts and public acts;
WE URGENTLY DRAW the attention of the national and international public opinion to the existing contradiction between the official speeches of the Costa Rican authorities and the lack of national policies to mitigate the effects of the serious deterioration of the national environment, as well as the ineffectiveness of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) and its technical departments, such as the National Environmental Technical Secretariat (SETENA), in its tutelary function to ensure a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.
WE POINT OUT that this deterioration tends to get worse, in spite of the praiseworthy speeches of the Oscar Arias Sanchez Administration and Roberto Dobles, his Environment and Energy Minister, in favor of nature and the environment (however, partial and essentially foreign-focused, such as the “In Peace with Nature” initiative, the “Towards Carbon Neutrality” proposal, or the “International Union in Defense of the Tropical Forests” proposal);
WE PARTICULARLY WARN about:
The serious threat represented by the projects intended to be located at some of the areas with the largest abundance in natural resources in our country, such as Puerto Viejo in Limón, Golfo Dulce and the Osa Peninsula.
The threat represented by some of the tourist attraction projects near Barva Volcano for the water reserves that supply the Central Valley and the absolute respect that must be imposed by the State on the Reserve Area created by our visionary ancestors in 1888 (Decree-Law LVX).
The sudden rise in marina projects that have a tendency to seriously affect coastal ecosystems, particularly the more than 20 initiatives on the Pacific Ocean coast and the two marina projects planned to be developed on the Caribbean coast, on areas close to coral reefs.
MINAE’s lack of will to proceed swiftly on the nationalization of the Las Baulas Marine National Park and the protection of these lands from near construction projects, as it was ordered to MINAE by the Constitutional Chamber (Vote # 08-007549).
The severe risks entailed by the current series of Executive Decrees related to the suspension of existing and properly based moratoriums related to matters like oil exploitation on the Caribbean coast and open cast mining in San Carlos and Miramar.
The ineffectiveness of the sanctions provided by the Fishing and Aquaculture Law for illegal fishing (particularly shark finning and shrimp trawling) in waters that belong to Costa Rican jurisdiction and protected areas like Cocos Island, as it was exposed with the Tiuna tuna ship at the beginning of the year.
The serious delay on the processing of the Water Resources Law project (file 14.585) in spite of its extreme urgency for the country, and the abandonment of the water resources integral administration principle, according to the provisions of decree 32868 from 2005, while we wait for the new water law to come into effect.
MINAE’s lack of will to perform its environmental evaluation and control tasks, as it was clearly proved by the last report of the General Controllership of the Republic (CGR, 2007) that pointed out 44% under use of the budget assigned to MINAE for such purposes at the end of 2007.
The different attempts to modify environmental regulations by means of Executive Decrees, particularly:
a) the reduction of the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and the San Lucas Island National Wildlife Refuge areas, which received and increase in their sea area, but a significant decrease on their land area (30.043 MINAE and 34282-MINAE Decrees);
b) the general land demarcation and Regional Urban Plan guidelines of the Chorotega region, which favors a massive real estate development in Guanacaste, instead of trying to hold it back (34456 MP-MIVAH-TUR-MINAE-COM Decree);
c) the reform to the Regional Urban Development Plan of the Metropolitan Area (33.757-MP-MIVAH-MINAE Decree) that increases the frailty of the restraining limit of the Metropolitan Area;
d) the reform to the Administrative Environmental Tribunal procedure regulations, where the access to the administrative records of the involved parties and their legal representatives is limited, in clear violation of the basic principles of the Aarhus Convention (34.136 MINAE Decree).
WE REQUEST from the Government, among other things,
COASTAL DEVELOPMENT: the suspension of residential projects and large capacity luxury hotels in Guanacaste and the Central Pacific area until the recent modifications to regulations issued by the Arias Sanchez Administration are reorganized from an environmental sustainability point of view, and the reinforcement of the building prohibition of marinas and piers in biological reserves, mangrove swamps and national parks.
URBAN DEVELOPMENT: the abolishment of Decree 33757, which expands the line of construction areas in the Metropolitan Area to 100 and 200 meters, and has been objected in the Constitutional Chamber ever since it was issued (file 07-011509-0007-CO).
OPEN CAST MINING: the sine die revocation of the moratorium related to open cast mining (Decree R-217-2008 MINAE)
WATER RESOURCES: present and expedite File 14.585 on the Congress as soon as possible, and amend the document about water resources proposed recently by MINAE on May 9, 2008, in order to include the fundamental principle of recognizing access to water as a human right, as well as the real participation of users on the decision making process and the prohibition of the privatization of the water supply service.
PINEAPPLE PLANTATIONS: The immediate establishment of a moratorium on new extensions of pineapple plantations located on high biodiversity areas like Sarapiqui, Guacimo, Siquirres and San Carlos, as well as high precipitation areas (San Carlos), due to the high levels of contamination and the deep erosion caused by this type of production.
An investigation performed by an agency that properly represents public entities and the civil society about the sanitary and work conditions of the people working at pineapple companies, according to some non-governmental international organizations (particularly OXFAM) as well as a study performed by SENARA (National Service of Underground Waters, Irrigation and Drainage) about the effects of the pineapple plantations on near aquifers.
FISHING LAW: reform the Fishing and Aquaculture Law to ensure that illegal fishing on the Protected Marine Areas of Costa Rica is severely punished, as well as reform the INCOPESCA Creation Law to eliminate the obvious conflict of interests of the illegal fishing sanctions decision process.
REINFORCEMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL TRIBUNAL: reinforce the Administrative Environmental Tribunal to efficiently fulfill the work that has been developed with the “Barridas Ambientales” project on the coastal areas of the country.
An immediate and detailed investigation by the Department of Public Prosecution of the death threats received by the judges of the Environmental Tribunal for applying the environmental regulations based on the Constitution and Laws of Costa Rica.
WE CONCLUDE this Manifesto by expressing our deep discomfort caused by having to resort to the national and international public opinion to create a warning about the aggravated deterioration of the Costa Rican environmental situation, which is unavoidably affecting the overall situation of our country, many of our rural communities and our wonderful biodiversity, but also our international credibility and the traditional commitment of Costa Rica in favor of sustainable development.
SIGNATORY ORGANIZATIONS AND PROGRAMS
Costa Rican Environmental Law Academy (ADA) - Concepción Water Supply, Naranjo - Siquirres Environmental Association – Law Students Association (UCR) – Palmares Environment Recovery Association (APRA) – Terra Nostra Association – San Juan Pro Environment Association (APROFOA), Ciudad Quesada – Alternative Projects for Social Development Association (PROAL) – Guanacaste Natural and Cultural Resources Conservation and Defense Association – Las Baulas Marine National Park Ladies’ Association, Guanacaste – Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center (CEDARENA) – Confraternidad Guanacasteca Association – Blue Flag Ecological Committee of San Miguel – Costa Rican Environmental Conservation Federation (FECON) – Foro Emaús – Nicoyagua Foundation, Commission for the integral management of the Potrero – Caimital Basins – Justice for Nature Organization – Masters program in Environmental Legislation, University for International Cooperation (UCI) – Costa Rican Organic Agriculture Movement (MAOCO) – Environmental Education Program, Sierra Tropical Foundation, Cerro Dantas Wildlife Refuge – Institutional Program of the Osa Peninsula – Golfo Dulce (PIOSA), UCR – Social Pastoral Group of the Tilarán Dioceses – Environmentalist newspaper Opinión Ambiental – Sea Turtles Restoration Program (PRETOMA) – Unión Norte por la Vida Organization (UNOVIDA), San Carlos – WIDECAST / Turtle Conservation Program of the South Caribbean
Sergio ALFARO SALAS, Congressperson (PAC) – Xinia ALVARADO ZELEDÓN, Director, School of Health Technologies, UCR – Guiselle ALVARADO RETANA, Professor, Agronomical Investigation Center (CIA), UCR – María de Jesús ARIAS ANDRÉS, Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), UNA – Yamileth ASTORGA ESPELETA, Coordinator of the Environmental Management Program (PROGAI), Environmental Pollution Research Center (CICA), UCR – Kenia BARRANTES JIMENEZ, Researcher at the Health Investigation Institute (INISA) and the ProGAI/CICA (UCR) – Nicolás BOEGLIN, University professor, Member of the Environmental Law Commission of the UICN – Rafael Guido BRENES ACUÑA, Civic Committee of Santo Domingo – Lourdes BRENES PARAJELES, Executive Secretary of Foro Emaús – Noemi Margarita CANET, Ex-President of the Biologists Association of Costa Rica – Glenda CARVAJAL MUÑIZ, Researcher at ProGAI/CICA, UCR – Gerardo CORTÉS MUÑOZ, Coordinator, Institutional Program of Osa Peninsula – Golfo Dulce, UCR – Alvaro FERNÁNDEZ GONZÁLEZ, Researcher at the Development Observatory and the PROGAI/CICA, UCR – Jaime E. GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ, Professor, Environmental Education Center (CEA) (UNED) and School of Biology (UCR) – Rafael GONZÁLEZ BALLAR, Dean, School of Law (UCR), Member of the Costa Rican Environmental Law Commission of the UICN – Gustavo GUTIÉRREZ EZPELETA, Professor, School of Biology (UCR), researcher on conservation projects for jaguars, monkeys, tapirs, red and green macaws – Jorge Arturo LOBO SEGURA, biologist, professor, School of Biology (UCR) – Eduardo MORA CASTELLANOS, director of Ambientico magazine (UNA) - Rafael MADRIGAL BRENES, Congressperson (PAC) – José MERINO DEL RÍO, Congressperson, Partido Frente Amplio (FA) – Grettel ORTIZ ALVAREZ, Congressperson, Environmental Affairs Coordinator (PAC) – Mario PEÑA CHACÓN, environmental law consultant and university professor – Alonso RAMÍREZ COVER, Social Investigations Institute (UCR) – Silvia RODRÍGUEZ CERVANTES, Professor (UNA) – Alvaro SAGOT RODIGUEZ, Lawyer and environmental consultant – Wagner QUIROS PEREIRA, Project Director, International Student Volunteers (ISV – Costa Rica) – Patricia QUIROS QUIROS, Congressperson (PAC) – Peggy QUESADA, Psychologist and social worker, Social Pastoral Group, Tilaran Diocese – Patricia ROMERO BARRIENTOS, Congressperson (PAC) – José Joaquín SALAZAR ROJAS, Congressperson (PAC) – Ana Lorena SALMERÓN ALPÍZAR, Biologist, Development Observatory, UCR – Gerardo UMAÑA VILLALOBOS, School of Biology and CIMAR (UCR) – Elena VARGAS RAMIREZ, Biologist (UNA), Representative of the Students’ Federation (FEUNA), Secretary of Environmental Affairs – Luis Bernardo VILLALOBOS SOLANO, Professor, School of Public Health (UCR) – Lesvia Villalobos Salas, Congressperson (PAC) – Marietta VILLALOBOS BARRANTES, University professor, Branch of the Pacific (UCR) – José María VILLALTA FLORÉZ-ESTRADA, environmentalist and lawyer, presenter of the Era Verde TV show at UCR’s Canal 15 - Leda ZAMORA CHAVES, Congressperson (PAC)