An investigative series by Costa Rican journalist Pablo Fonseca, one of this year’s Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) Fellows in Cancun, helped prompt the government to enact new policies to address climate change and environmental issues.
With colleagues Alejandra Vargas and Marcela Cantero, Fonseca wrote a series of investigative reports on the affects of climate change on Costa Rica for Diario La Nación newspaper, the largest national paper in Costa Rica.
The 2007 five-part series covered sea level rise and coastal erosion, floods, endangered species, biodiversity, health and carbon emissions.
“The series we did on climate change brought the issues home for Costa Ricans. Before, most people thought of it as a problem in Africa or some other place, but never realized how much climate change was affecting our daily lives as Costa Ricans,” said Fonseca.
The series prompted the government to act. Shortly following its publication, the government created the National Strategy for Climate Change. President Oscar Arias Sánchez declared that Costa Rica would be carbon neutral by 2021, and personally spearheaded the creation of Peace with Nature, a presidential initiative with “a strong political commitment to fight against environmental degradation.”
“If the government says they are going to do something next year, to change something, and if they don’t do it, [the media] are there pushing and pushing, asking and asking. Politicians in Costa Rica feel big pressure from the press,” said Fonseca.