Protect &
Restore Nature Winner

Republic of Costa Rica

In the 1990s, the vast forests of Costa Rica were devastated by unregulated exploitation to half their former size. But Costa Rica’s government had a plan to save them, compensating Costa Ricans to plant trees and restore ecosystems. 

The results were extraordinary.

Costa Rica’s forests doubled in size, flora and fauna thrived, leading to a boom in ecotourism that has injected $4billion to the economy. 

Since winning the 2021 Protect and Restore Nature Earthshot, Costa Rica continues to be a leader driving the global environmental agenda, signing an extension of its marine reserves into law (Dec. 2021) which has increased its protected marine area from 3% of its ocean territory to the High Ambition Coalition target of 30%. 

This prompted the Bezos Earth Fund to provide additional grants totalling $30M to support organisations working in Costa Rica (and Colombia, Ecuador, Panama) to strengthen the Eastern Tropical Marine Corridor at the UN Oceans Conference.

And in addition, through The Earthshot Prize, Costa Rica has been able to partner with fellow 2021 finalist Restor who will track thousands of small payments for Ecoystem Services Reforestation Projects and the total new forest cover being achieved by Costa Rica. This will enable ever-smarter national policy decisions on reforestation, enhanced performance of the individual reforestation projects, and will empower Costa Rica to easily demonstrate its progress in meeting its COP26 reforestation pledge. 

Only 30 years ago, our ecosystems were in decline after decades of irrational exploitation, as is much of our planet today. But by creating visionary policies and engaging local and indigenous communities, we stopped and reversed deforestation, benefitting our communities, nature and economy. We are humbled by this recognition from The Earthshot Prize and honoured to be among such inspiring Finalists that share our vision.Andrea Meza Murillo, Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica

The Earthshot Prize 2021 Winners & Finalists

The Earthshot Prize