We introduced you to Tex Hawkins a number of months ago. He has just posted a terrific article that shares a combination of environmental and political science. He provides an English translation of the Citizen’s Action Party (PAC) environmental platform, which we consider to be extremely important in Costa Rica’s political dialogue. It will also be posted separately, in the interest of encouraging this dialogue.
“In my last post to Nature Air’s Nature Blog, I translated and shared observations from Costa Rican presidential candidate and opposition party leader Otton Solis, made after he attended the January inauguration of Barack Obama. Of course, it’s impossible to predict how the ideals embodied in those reflections would play out if he were elected to that nation’s highest office, just as it would have been impossible for many of us to predict the effects of the military-industrial-financial-media complex on the rhetorical promise of our new president’s social and environmental agendas. As my 90-year-old mother often advises, “hope for the best.”
I would advise further that we stay informed, involved and committed to a peaceful quest for the common good. In that spirit, Winona State University launched a unique educational exchange last year, in the form of an interdisciplinary travel-study course on comparative conservation history and evolution of environmental policy. We titled the course, “Making Peace with Nature,” borrowing from the initiative launched by Nobel prize-winning President Oscar Arias. Our agenda called for visits to important conservation areas and communities participating in innovative programs. The founders and leaders of Costa Rica’s internationally recognized efforts graciously found time to share their personal stories with the students, frankly discuss successes and failures, and answer many questions regarding future possibilities for a sustainable, healthy and just society.
While we were in San Jose, we spent a morning with Professor Pedro Leon, the country’s most famous research scientist, best known for his genetic studies on hearing loss, and as far as I know, the only Costa Rican in our National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Leon was asked by President Arias to lead his Peace with Nature initiative, which began with an unprecedented declaration of purpose and the gathering of the brightest minds from all government sectors to identify specific steps needed to green the economy and achieve carbon neutrality.
After a warm welcome to one of the world’s most biologically diverse and environmentally progressive countries, Dr. Leon gave us a sobering overview of the current state of the planet, including the threats posed by global climate change, and the need for decisive action. He then explained how the government’s Peace with Nature initiative was trying to meet the challenge of often unpredictable and unavoidable change. As is often the case with new programs, there were admittedly delays, insufficient resources and conflicts, but the vision, we agreed, was admirable.
In days that followed, we met with representatives of the new political party, PAC (Partido de Accion Ciudadana – Citizen’s Action Party) and the Conservation Federation FECON (Federación Costarricense para la Conservación del Ambiente), and they gave us very strongly worded critiques of the gap between expressed environmental ideals and performance of the Arias Administration. Why would any government – ours or Costa Rica’s – be so ostensibly committed to environmental protection and restoration, yet so inconsistent in its dealings with big, powerful corporate interests?
Would new national political leadership, with a greener platform, be more consistent and effective?
It’s impossible to know for sure without the kind of performance record that can only be established with time in presidential office. But we do have the vision, ideals and rhetoric of Peace with Nature, which I sincerely hope can continue to exist and move Costa Rica in a more sustainable direction, regardless of the political party in power – and we have the vision, ideals and rhetoric of Otton Solis and PAC, which I have again translated and will share with you:
The Citizen’s Action Party (PAC) has worked since its formation to define and strengthen those principles that guide our political participation. The model of integrated development, solidarity and sustainability to which we are committed over the long term is based upon the recognition of universal human rights, from which emanate solid proposals and organizing principles of our thought and political action. We agree that humanity is one and the planet is home to us all. For this reason, we campaign for citizen action, solidarity, respect, equity, responsibility and ethics in government.
The Model: Sustainable Development
In the PAC party, we work for human development with environmental sustainability and a long-range perspective that integrates the economic as well as the social, cultural and political. By “human development” we understand those processes that improve the quality of life associated with positive and balanced evolution of the country’s people and institutions through time. Human development means better options for satisfying needs and providing individual and collective well-being.
The term “sustainability” relates to biodiversity conservation, responsible management of the nation’s natural resources, and ecosystem stability over time, such that human activity will not threaten or irreversibly affect natural cycles, resources, or bio-geophysical processes. Sustainability is based on human comprehension and respect for the dynamic equilibriums of nature. Our economic model and socio-political organization are based on the principles summarized above.
Apologies for any errors made in translation. Thanks to family friend and PAC enthusiast Elias Baldioceda in Liberia for forwarding the PAC document, “Our Principles.” I can only add that the vision for future sustainability expressed in both the Peace with Nature and PAC statements make me proud to be part of this green family and the global common. May all nations and all humankind make peace, stay well and prosper!”