Strategic Organization: Neotropica Foundation
The Neotropica Foundation of Costa Rica was founded in 1985 with the mission of promoting actions that have an impact on the economic and environmental value of natural resources and the fair and equitable distribution of environmental goods and services. This was a response to the impacts of the creation of the National System of Conservation Areas in the 80s, namely the new limitation on the use of the natural resources on which local inhabitants in the towns, biological reserves, and protected areas surrounding these national parks depended. In other words, in an effort to protect its natural resources, the country generated a series of social and environmental injustices around the following questions: What portion of the benefits of these newly founded protected areas would actually reach the surrounding communities? Do families and communities in areas surrounding the protected areas have any alternatives for their economic development?
This is why, since its creation, the Neotropica Foundation has focused its efforts on working with local community members in their search for sustainable development. This includes working with entire communities, women looking for independence through personal enterprises, families that are just starting out in the rural community tourism industry, local fishermen seeking to integrate more sustainable practices, and children and youth from the communities on projects that teach them to how to become global environmental citizens.
As part of its work, Neotropica focuses on self-management processes, coaching, and community empowerment, which can help community members establish ownership of their communities and the resolution of environmental conflicts that may arise. Since its inception, the foundation has trained over 10,000 people in its Study and Community Empowerment Centers, mainly in the Osa Peninsula. To complement this, the Foundation has worked on an environmental education program called Friends of Nature, which has involved more than 1,000 children from urban public schools.
In addition, Neotropica has worked with over 100 companies in the tourism sector and several local Municipalities utilizing the concept of the Ecological Footprint, a measure that measures the sustainability of a person, a community, a company or a country, and make decisions based on that information.