The University of Arizona

Balancing the Books on Conservation and Development: Transient Corporate Investment in Golfito, Costa Rica

Jane W. Gibson


This paper takes a historical, political-ecological approach to understand the present
economic and environmental condition of Golfito, Costa Rica. Contemporary problems
result from the convergence of local human ecological relationships, local and national
economic depression, national and global environmental politics, and international
political and economic inequity. Powerful transient corporate investors exploit
opportunities made available by vulnerable developing nations in a pattern of ecologically destructive "development" that may meet local and national needs for revenue; geographically distanced "conservation" areas protect "green" reputations but do not necessarily result in protection. The implication of this pattern is that sustainable
development is discursively finessed, rather than practically reconciled.

Key words: sustainable development, conservation, Costa Rica, Golfito, multinational
corporations, political-ecology

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