2050: Andrea Meza – The Conductor


What is your job?

Until recently, I was the Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, overseeing public policies regarding the environment, nature conservation, climate change, energy, sustainable development, waters, and oceans. I was also charged with formulating action plans, public policies, and other regulatory instruments to manage our environment.

How are you helping cool the planet through your work?

Because transport accounts for more than half of Costa Rica’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it is a focus sector in our National Decarbonization Plan so we can meet our Paris Agreement goals. By 2050, we plan to electrify 85% of our public transportation and 95% of light vehicle fleets, and a highly efficient freight transportation fleet with 20% fewer GHG emissions than in 2018. Moreover, we are integrating the concept of a ‘just transition’ (or a phased decarbonization approach so that all have sufficient time and resources to prepare) and climate justice into our climate policies.  

What most surprised you about your job?

That we need a whole of government and societal approaches to solve big challenges like climate change. Everyone has an important role to play in addressing the climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises, as well as the covid pandemic and economic recovery. Governments, congress, academia, international organizations, NGOs, youth, communities, indigenous peoples — we all play important roles in addressing these by carrying out positive actions for positive impact.

What can we do to get more young people into public service?

By helping them learn more about public policies, how they can be changed, and by better understanding government dynamics in different countries. Mentoring, training, and internships are key to better understanding public service, to know how to drive change from the inside. Giving my children a better planet and my love of nature drew me to my current position of Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat.


20 People Helping Cool the Planet by 2050

Carolyn Whelan

Carolyn is a writer, editor and analyst who covers the nexus between business and social justice issues. She broke into journalism at the Rio Earth Summit where she interviewed Al Gore and environmental pioneer David Brower. Topics covered since then range from climate change and higher education costs to drugs pricing, geopolitical strife, business ethics, artificial intelligence, gene editing, alternative energy and the search for good jobs -- and innovation in all these areas. Her pieces, reported from Europe, the US and South America have appeared in Fortune, Newsweek, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and SciAm.com. Previously she worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit, Barrons.com, Columbia Business School, WWF, the UN and PwC. Carolyn is fluent in French and Spanish and resides in Brooklyn.

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