Guide launched for local governments in Costa Rica to move towards a circular economy

According to an article published by the UN (, the circular economy could reduce as much as 99% of waste from some industrial sectors and 99% of their greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to protect the environment and combat climate change.


The Costa Rican government identifies the link between the circular economy and decarbonization. Therefore, in September 2021, as a collaboration of national and international entities, it launched the Step-by-Step Guide to Facilitate the Transition to a Circular Economy from Local Government. This was done to disseminate the circular economy approach and provide local governments in Costa Rica and other regional actors with guidelines on how to materialize their interest in moving towards a circular economy through actions at various levels: public administration, the social sphere, and in business.


This document's creation was driven in large part by the need to promote the implementation of international agreements that Costa Rica has acquired, both in climate change – such as in the Convention on Biological Diversity of the SDGs and the country's incorporation into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – and the nation’s decarbonization plan.


About the Guide

The guide is a document that summarizes theoretical aspects of the circular economy and analyzes the link between it and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as practical aspects that seek to enable the action of local governments in Costa Rica in terms of circularity. The concepts and recommendations contained within it were prepared as a guide for municipalities in their implementation of concrete actions to improve the social welfare of their population, reduce their CO2 emissions by migrating to environmentally friendly consumption and production practices, and reduce the extraction of resources in its production and construction processes.


The document was developed by the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) and the Municipal Development and Advisory Institute (IFAM), supported with resources from the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), and executed by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE).


Leida Mercado, co-author of the guide, along with Diana Rivera, stated: “In order to make the shift towards a circular economy, the participation of multiple actors is required, including local governments, entities that have a catalytic role since a large part of the measures and actions must be implemented and executed on a local level, as well as their proximity with the citizens. Once local governments understand the benefits of applying a circular economy approach, see successful experiences of other local governments, and have tools such as this guide, they will be in a much better position to lead the transformation that is required and achieve sustainable development, reducing the ecological footprint in their territories.”


Muhammad Ibrahim, Director General of CATIE, points out that studies indicate that more than 90% of the raw materials used worldwide do not return to the economy, which results in massive overexploitation of the planet's finite natural resources and a burden on the climate. “Local governments are good enough to contribute to the transition to a circular economy and can benefit from this change. I do not doubt that the development of tools such as the Step-by-Step Guide strengthens their capacities to act more effectively in this matter,” Ibrahim added.



A panel was held during the virtual launch of the guide, with the participation of Diana Ramos, Regional Coordinator of the CTCN; Patricia Campos, Director of the MINAE Climate Change Department; Edmundo Abellán, Head of Municipal Government Strengthening at IFAM; and Luis Fernando León, Mayor of Turrialba; who provided their perspectives and opinions about the value and contributions of the guide to the circular economy. The event was attended virtually by people from other countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Panama.


Within the framework of this launch, the Vice Minister of Energy of MINAE, Rolando Castro, announced that Costa Rica, with the support of the CTCN, will work on its National Circular Economy Strategy to create an integrating vision of the public actors and the different policies that set the course for new ways of production, where the generation of waste is minimized, reused, recycled, and revalued with a win-win perspective for the environment and nation’s economy.