Fri 30th Sep 2011
Costa Rica has the highest levels of reported life satisfaction and the highest happy life years. The latest version of the Happy Planet Index (HPI) compiled by the New Economics Foundation, placed Costa Rica on top of the world. It makes an explicit link between happiness and the environment, and combines three key variables - what people say about their life satisfaction, their longevity and their ecological footprint.
Where is SVG on the HPI? Not listed. It seems that under the ULP regime SVG has become too miserable to mention.
So what has Costa Rica done to achieve this amazing result? They have gone Green. Greenness permeates both public policy and the private lives of Costa Ricans. Contrast that to Gonsalves' begging and borrowing and selling-off SVG's assets.
Costa Rica, a haven of democracy and peace, has taken very deliberate steps to reduce its environmental impact. Unique in the world for having combined its ministries of energy and the environment back in the 1970s, a staggering 99% of its energy comes from renewable sources.
In 1997, a carbon tax was introduced on emissions - with the funds gained being used to pay indigenous communities to protect their surrounding forests. Official figures suggest that it has bucked the trend of losing its forests: more than half its territory is now covered in trees, compared to 20% in the 1980s.
Costa Rica's government planted 5 million trees in 2007 and a record 7 million in 2008. Contrast that with the deforestation in SVG that has contributed to the damaging floods we have had.
In 2007, the Costa Rican government declared that it intended to become carbon neutral by 2021. As a result of these huge steps, Costa Rica has risen up the ranks of Yale University's Environmental Performance Indicator (EPI) to 3rd in 2010.
Where is SVG on the EPI? Not listed - the facts too miserable to mention. Haiti, a country that PM Gonsalves compares SVG to - possibly because of the similar high levels of crime, poverty, unemployment, domestic violence and teenage pregnancies - is listed 155 out of 163 countries.
Some of the reasons for Costa Rica's success are:
- rich natural capital;
- equal treatment of women;
- low unemployment rate of 7%
- successive governments having poured lots of money into books and education;
- relatively high education levels (they have 13 universities) which attract foreign investors and creates jobs; and,
- having a well developed welfare state, one of the most developed outside of Scandinavia.
Costa Rica looks after its people and its environment.
In contrast, ULP regime's failures are:
- rapid deforestation;
- high rate of violence against women;
- high unemployment;
- low educational funding;
- no universities and worst Common Entrance Exam results in history; and
- poor welfare state.
Green is the future for the environment and the people and is the alternative to Gonsalves' begging and borrowing. SVG needs a revenue-creating economy.
When SVG Green Party was formed by Ivan O'Neal on 10th January 2005, the short-sighted Gonsalves said it was a joke. However, Costa Rica illustrates the way forward for governments that want the best for their people.
Having Green at the heart of policy-making provides jobs and long-term security to a nation.