384 pages, 6 x 9
10 b&w illustrations, 4 maps, 16 tables
Release Date:17 Mar 2020

The Ecolaboratory

Environmental Governance and Economic Development in Costa Rica

The University of Arizona Press
Despite its tiny size and seeming marginality to world affairs, the Central American republic of Costa Rica has long been considered an important site for experimentation in cutting-edge environmental policy. From protected area management to ecotourism to payment for environmental services (PES) and beyond, for the past half-century the country has successfully positioned itself at the forefront of novel trends in environmental governance and sustainable development. Yet the increasingly urgent dilemma of how to achieve equitable economic development in a world of ecosystem decline and climate change presents new challenges, testing Costa Rica’s ability to remain a leader in innovative environmental governance.

This book explores these challenges, how Costa Rica is responding to them, and the lessons this holds for current and future trends regarding environmental governance and sustainable development. It provides the first comprehensive assessment of successes and challenges as they play out in a variety of sectors, including agricultural development, biodiversity conservation, water management, resource extraction, and climate change policy.

By framing Costa Rica as an “ecolaboratory,” the contributors in this volume examine the lessons learned and offer a path for the future of sustainable development research and policy in Central America and beyond.
 “Bringing together experts from a range of disciplines under a shared analytical umbrella of political ecology, this collection of case studies fractures the narrative of Costa Rican environmental exceptionalism, while also providing important lessons on environmental policy, governance, and sustainability that can be applied elsewhere.”
—Keri Brondo, author of Land Grab: Green Neoliberalism, Gender, and Garifuna Resistance

Robert Fletcher is an associate professor in the Sociology of Development and Change group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He is the author of Romancing the Wild: Cultural Dimensions of Ecotourism and co-editor of Nature™ Inc.: Environmental Conservation in the Neoliberal Age.

Brian Dowd-Uribe is an associate professor in the International Studies Department at the University of San Francisco and currently directs the MA program in international studies. Formerly he was an assistant professor and chair of the Department of Environment and Development at the University for Peace in Costa Rica.

Guntra A. Aistara is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. She is the author of Organic Sovereignties: Struggles over Farming in an Age of Free Trade.

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