The percentage of Costa Ricans living in urban areas increased from 34% in the 1960s to 81% in 2021, according to data from the World Bank. When we look at that growth curve, the question is inevitable: What will happen in the next 10 years? Will almost all of Costa Rica’s more than 5 million inhabitants live in cities?
For those of us who are already city-dwellers, especially those in the Greater Metropolitan Area, the answer seems to be an inevitable “yes.” Housing towers and complexes are being built nonstop, clearly in anticipation of an even bigger wave.
The consequences of this accelerated and often disorganized growth are no secret. The increasing density of populated and developed areas puts great pressure on natural resources, while at the same time eliminating the original green areas, such as the premontane moist forest that once dominated the Central Valley.
In many areas of our bigger cities, our large riverbeds are all that remains, swaths of green struggling to hold their own amidst the concrete. However, they have lost the protection of the forest around them and are highly polluted.
So what can we do?.
A wide range of voices from civil society, and the public and private sectors, say that there is only one thing to do: recover, regenerate, and revalue the city’s green areas, starting at the river.
That’s why our February edition, “Start at the River,” will do the same: present what various groups have done to address this crisis in greater San José and their largest waterways, the River Torres and the River María Aguilar.