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The Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy ( Mideplan ) recently presented the National Strategic Plan of Costa Rica 2050 (PEN). The document is a long-term planning instrument that outlines a path for achieving a vision of sustainable development in Costa Rica.
Mideplan prepared the document with the support of the institutions, sectors, and subsystems of the National Planning System (SNP). Citizen participation was also a part of the planning process.
The National Strategic Plan of Costa Rica 2050 aims to build a more prosperous nation through sustained growth and equity with equality of opportunities. The document also seeks to prepare Costa Rica for global changes and challenges. Specifically, it aims to make the nation resilient to climate change and decarbonize the nation’s economy.
Officials make specific development recommendations
The PEN contains 109 specific prescriptions that propose investments involving infrastructure projects, public policy initiatives, plans, and social programs to achieve these objectives. These are organized into five strategic theme areas: Social Inclusion, Human Capital and Innovation, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Economic Development, and Decarbonization.
María del Pilar Garrido Gonzalo, Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy, stated that it is the first time that a National Strategic Plan of Costa Rica has been formulated. She also pointed out that it will be a roadmap to guide the priorities of national, sectoral, and territorial development in the long term. The plan defines a decentralized approach toward national development that activates the economic, digitized, decarbonized, and inclusive space. “PEN identifies key multisectoral project clusters for each planning region, the investment required for each, and the employment impact of each investment. Likewise, it establishes innovative and fiscally responsible sources of financing,” according to the director of Mideplan.
Mideplan had the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the planning process. In this regard, Kifah Sasa Marín, Officer in Charge of the UNDP in Costa Rica, indicated that “it is commendable that the country has a long-term vision to establish development priorities throughout all parts of the country. This is the only way to prevent opportunities from being concentrated solely in the capital region, San Jose. We consider that the National Territorial Strategy for an Inclusive and Decarbonized Economy 2020-2050 and the main public investment projects by territory that Mideplan has been formulating are valuable guides for future public administrations to promote an inclusive vision of sustainable national development.
The vision of the National Strategic Plan of Costa Rica 2050
It is necessary to change the current development model to consolidate an inclusive country where increased productivity and competitiveness reach all sectors. This can be done by creating conditions to generate centers of productive regional specialization outside the Greater Metropolitan Area of San Jose.
For this, the PEN establishes a series of strategic orientations that are summarized in:
- Closing gaps in areas with underdeveloped human capital and infrastructure for road, digital, and energy connectivity.
- Territorial diversification of traditional economic activities to increase economic resilience and inclusion. This can be achieved by promoting tourism and sustainable, regenerative agriculture and agroforestry.
- Activating the seacoasts by optimizing the economic activity linked to ports, expanding sustainable fishing activity, and developing human capital and innovation.
- Generating advanced secondary urban centers whose economy is based on innovation and knowledge. By doing this, the National Plan of Costa Rica supports decentralized development.
- Generating an ecosystem of six catalyst corridors, linking key areas, generating synergies, improving accessibility, generating social opportunities, and optimizing logistics operations, among others.
- Creating new and sustainable jobs to promote the transition towards a decarbonized, digital, and decentralized economy.
The long-term planning instrument not only establishes key initiatives distributed by region. These allow for guiding and balancing national development and also promote the creation of employment. Several of the country’s regions have been targeted by the National Strategic Plan of Costa Rica 2050. Among them are the following:
Chorotega Region: Requires a minimum investment of US $199 million for the Route 1 Connector – Cañas – Tilarán – Upala, the Renewable Energy pole of Liberia; the Nicoya Pole – Pacific Coast and investment in innovation, development of research and logistics; development of coastal tourism, sustainable wood industry, agriculture, and renewable energy. A minimum number of 26,548 beneficiaries is estimated (equivalent to 8% of the total population), and a minimum potential of 29,608 jobs can be generated.
Central Pacific Region: Requires a minimum investment of US $740 million to strengthen the Gulf of Nicoya Pole, Quepos-Parrita-Uvita Maritime-Logistics Pole, and for the development of the tourist trade; the blue economy, marine research, coastal conservation, sustainable tourism, and biotechnology requires support. A minimum number of 15,042 beneficiaries is estimated (equivalent to 6% of the total population), and a minimum potential of 20,446 jobs can potentially be generated.
Brunca Region: Requires a minimum investment of $358 million for the Quepos -Parrita-Uvita, San Isidro – Buenos Aires, and Golfo Dulce poles, as well as the development of the blue economy, tourism, and agriculture. A minimum number of 50,222 beneficiaries is estimated (equivalent to 15% of the total population), and a minimum potential of 19,567 jobs are estimated to be generated.
Huetar Caribe Region: Requires a minimum investment of $344.6 million for the Guápiles Agricultural-Logistics Pole and the Limón-Cahuita Caribbean Port Pole and the development of agriculture through innovation, development, research, tourism, and the blue economy. A minimum number of 63,111 beneficiaries is estimated (equivalent to 16% of the total population), and a minimum potential of 36,573 jobs are projected to be generated.
North Huetar Region: Requires a minimum investment of US $242.7 million for the Route 1 – Cañas – Tilarán – Upala Connector Pole, the Quesada – San Carlos Quadrant Pole, and the Guápiles Agricultural – Logistics Pole; in addition to the development of tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture. A minimum number of 54,876 beneficiaries is estimated (equivalent to 15% of the total population), and a minimum potential of 24,543 jobs are projected to be generated.
Central Region: requires a minimum investment of US $4,301 million to consolidate the Central East and West poles and the Cartago innovation, development, and research pole, as well as the development of decarbonization innovations in transportation, construction, energy, and natural capital. A minimum number of 8,918 beneficiaries is estimated (equivalent to 0.3% of the total population), and a minimum potential of 487,516 jobs may be generated.
The National Strategic Plan of Costa Rica 2050 is based on solid scientific foundations. In particular, it was formulated based on studies such as the Territorial Economic Strategy for an Inclusive and Decarbonized Economy.
All of the economic planning processes allowed for identifying appropriate programmatic interventions and the design and establishment of a management model and plan that provides for the evaluation of various sources of financing under the fiscal limitations that the country currently faces.
Regarding possible sources of financing, Multilateral organizations constitute the main line of funds with an estimated 45% of total resources, followed by Public-Private Partnerships (24%) and green financing (15%), and Social Bonuses (10%).
For the implementation of the PEN, international cooperation is vital. For this reason, the European Union Transition Fund has already begun to finance various projects. This is being done under the Development in Transition ( DIT ) approach to benefit the population of the country’s coastal and border areas.
In this regard, the EU Ambassador María Antonia Calvo mentioned that “the European Union and Costa Rica share common values and principles and very ambitious aspirations around sustainable, resilient, decarbonized and inclusive development. At the end of 2020, we established a bilateral association instrument under the Development in Transition ( DIT ) approach to contributing to implementing the Territorial Economic Strategy for an Inclusive and Decarbonized Economy 2020-2050 in Costa Rica (3D Strategy). Costa Rica has a sharp vision of development, has solid planning instruments, and is developing initiatives that demonstrate that this vision of development brings economic, social, and environmental benefits to the country’s territories. The European Union will undoubtedly continue to dialogue with Costa Rica to ensure that our international cooperation resources contribute to its development vision.”
Three of these projects that are being executed through the bilateral association between the EU and Costa Rica are:
- Monitoring of emerging pollutants in the marine ecosystems of Chira and Paquera Island. This effort allows for evaluating the presence of emerging contaminants in mussels and oysters farmed in the Central Pacific to determine their impact on marine ecosystems, the health of the inhabitants, and the implementation of best production practices. The budget is $231,065.
- Decarbonizing aquaculture: Carbon mitigation through the generation of food supplements with native microalgae. This effort aims to develop an aquaculture supplement (R&D) with a high nutritional impact, based on native microalgae. This is thought to increase the productive efficiency of various national aquaculture crops. The project carries a budget of $150,662.
- Transforming the productive landscape of the Osa Peninsula through a regenerative economy. The project aims to support productive diversification to increase economic resilience through regenerative agriculture, sustainable agribusiness, and fair trade. It has a budget of $115,260.
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