Innovation That Matters

Global innovation spotlight: Costa Rica

Global Innovation Spotlight

Costa Rica Innovation Facts

Global Innovation Index ranking: 56th

Climate targets: Become a ‘decarbonised economy’ with net-zero emissions by 2050.

Sustainability issues:

Tourism – Costa Rica is home to around 5 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity, and the country’s exotic plants and animals are a major draw for tourists. Over a million people visit the country each year so responsible tourist practices are essential. Fortunately, tourism has largely been a positive catalyst for conservation in the country, with the government implementing a hunting ban and researchers mapping the country’s wildlife.

Deforestation – In the 1940s around 75 per cent of Costa Rica was covered by forests, but, by 1987, the country had lost between a half and a third of its forest cover. Since then, Costa Rica has successfully managed to stop and reverse deforestation through globally admired environmental policies and innovations.

Transportation – With an over-reliance on fossil fuels, poor public transport, and haphazard urban growth, Costa Rica’s transport network is the most polluting in Central America. In fact, 84 per cent of the hydrocarbons consumed in the country are burned by vehicles. Cleaning up the transport sector is therefore an important priority as Costa Rica attempts to become a zero-carbon country.

Sector specialisms:

Telecommunications and tech



Source: Statista

Three Exciting Innovations From Costa Rica

Photo source angel olaya on Unsplash


We are in the era of genetically modified crops, AI, and all things automated, yet one in ten people around the world go hungry. And one third of all food produced is wasted every year. Indigo Drones is on a mission to help farmers at the production end of the chain. The company helps farmers monitor crops and spot potential issues during growing seasons through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and internet of things (IoT) devices. Read more.

Photo source Marek Studzinski on Unsplash


Each year, Costa Rica produces more than 1.2 million tonnes of wood, of which around 40 per cent ends up as waste. Much of this wood waste is disposed of improperly with decomposition releasing methane – a greenhouse gas that adds to global warming. Now, renewable energy company Pelletics is putting waste to work fighting climate change. The company takes wood and agricultural waste from sawmills and cassava cultivation and turns it into pellets that constitute a high energy density fuel. Read more.

Photo source Tadeu Jnr on Unsplash


Each year, 3 million farm workers experience extreme pesticide poisoning, and 600 million people get sick from eating foods contaminated with agrochemicals. This is a particularly pertinent problem in Costa Rica – a leading global exporter of pineapples, bananas, and coffee. Costa Rican startup ClearLeaf is rising to this challenge with a range of innovative solutions to replace harmful toxic pesticides. Read more.

Words: Matthew Hempstead

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