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Cablegate: Costa Rica Seeks Support for Rodriguez As Iucn President

VZCZCXRO5332
RR RUEHAST RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHTM
DE RUEHSJ #0592 1932156
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 112156Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9930
INFO RUEHZN/EST COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 0030
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 0727
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0329

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000592

STATE FOR OES/PCI (LSPERLING) AND WHA/CEN (ROIS BEAL)
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID
SAN SALVADOR FOR ESTOFF AND USAID

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ECON PREL CS
SUBJECT: Costa Rica Seeks Support for Rodriguez as IUCN President

1. (U) On June 23, the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry delivered a
diplomatic note seeking U.S. support for the candidacy of
ex-Minister of Energy and Environment Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
Echandi for the Presidency of the Geneva-based International Union
for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The election will be held at
the October World Congress for Nature in Barcelona. Text of the
note is set forth in paragraph 6. Attached biographic material was
sent separately to OES/PCI.

2. (U) Rodriguez currently serves as the Regional Vice President
(Mexico - Central America) for Conservation International and
director of its regional Center for Biodiversity Conservation. He
also serves as the alternate Conservation International
representative to the U.S.-Costa Rica Tropical Forest Conservation
Agreement's Oversight Committee.

-------------------------------
Assessment of Rodriguez' Tenure
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) As Minister of Environment and Energy under the Pacheco
Presidency, Rodriguez chafed against the inertia of the Costa Rican
government system and enlisted the cooperation of civil society and
international partners to make resources available to back policy
changes. He worked closely with international NGOs to improve both
Ministry and protected areas administration. Other instances were
controversial -- agreements with local community organizations on
national park management, for example, were voided on constitutional
grounds. Policies pursued included the payments for environmental
services program, in which landowners were paid to maintain their
forests; use of promotion of logged timber audits with geographic
information system tools; reduced sulfur context in gasoline; a
pilot ethanol project; and road restrictions in central San Jose.
He sought to strengthen his Ministry's hand in budget negotiations
by presenting the first evaluation of the contribution by protected
areas to the national economy.

4. (SBU) The Achilles heel of Rodriguez' tenure was the failure of
his Ministry to grapple with energy issues as Costa Rica's demand
pulled even with supply, leaving the Arias Administration to
confront nationwide blackouts in April-May 2007, and to contract
fossil fuel-powered generators to avoid a repeat in 2008, eroding
prospects for a 100 percent renewable-powered electrical grid.
Reform of Costa Rican water laws moved at a glacial pace and little
attention was paid to garbage, air pollution and other "brown"
issues.

5. (SBU) While an engaging, even inspiring, speaker on
environmental issues and possessing a creative mind for
problem-solving, Post assess that Rodriguez, as an administrator,
will need a strong team to ensure implementation. He had a warm and
accessible relationship with Embassy San Jose during his tenure as
Minister and accepted differences with the United States over issues
such as climate change, methyl bromide, pending expropriation cases
and controversial oil exploration concessions in a cooperative
manner.

6. (U) Text of Diplomatic Note DGPE/PIII-C/116/0608

(Courtesy Opening) ... and has the honor to announce that the
Government of Costa Rica has decided to present the candidacy of Mr.
Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Echandi to the post of President of the
Council of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in
elections to be held during the World Congress for Nature to be held
in October, 2008, in Barcelona, Spain.

Mr. Rodriguez Echandi has solid academic preparation as well as wide
experience and international recognition as an energetic
conservationist, both in his work with non government organizations
and in public service.

Costa Rica recognizes the great importance of the work of IUCN on
behalf of the environment and conservation, and supports its
interdisciplinary vision, and believes that this Costa Rican
nomination will contribute to strengthening the program and
objectives of this organization.

Our government solicits the support of the Honorable Government of
the United States for the aforementioned candidate. (Courtesy
close)

Cianchette

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