Laura Lang Patiño

Ashoka Fellow
San Jose, Costa Rica
Fellow Since 2008


This profile was prepared when Laura Lang Patiño was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Laura has formed an alliance of multiple institutions to create the Climate Change Friendly Program (CCF) in Costa Rica, an initiative designed to foment ordinary citizens’ investment in the environment. Laura and her collaborators calculate average carbon emissions from everyday activities like car travel and determine the number of trees that must be planted to offset these emissions. Interested individuals and companies can purchase a certificate or sticker that identifies them as carbon neutral, and Laura uses the funds to replant native species in high-priority areas in Costa Rica. In the CCF’s first year of operation, Laura raised US$40,000 and planted 6,500 trees, in the second year 35 000 trees were planted, all of which are monitored for three years and replaced if necessary.

Laura’s work is transforming environmental action in Costa Rica on two levels. First, the CCF is making carbon neutrality accessible for ordinary citizens. Currently carbon trading markets are seen as the domain of wealthy individuals or large multinational corporations wishing to boost their environmental credentials. By scaling carbon trading down to individuals and small businesses, however, the CCF is democratizing carbon emissions trading. Second, Laura is building popular consciousness about climate change as a real and important problem that affects everyone and requires collaboration to find solutions.

Although the program has only completed its second year, it has already drawn attention throughout Costa Rica and beyond. Laura has begun exploring opportunities for international replication with interested environmental organizations in Central America and the Caribbean. Within the next five years, she envisions the CCF as an international initiative channeling financial resources not only towards reforestation but also towards recycling, sustainable agriculture and alternative energy sources.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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