Senior Vice President, Conservation Policy
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Carlos Manuel Rodriguez is Vice President for Conservation Policy at Conservation International (CI).
Before joining CI, Rodriquez was the Minister of Environment and Energy for the Republic of Costa Rica, where he was a pioneer in the development of payment for ecosystem services (PES).A lawyer, politician and, above all a conservationist, Rodriguez held various political posts in Costa Rica, including Director of the National Parks Service. He is also founder and Board member of many environmental NGOs in Costa Rica, in addition to several tropical research institutes. Rodriguez understands the political preconditions necessary for successful implementation of PES systems that benefit local communities. As the Minister of Environment, he managed to curb logging and deforestation trends to achieve a national net growth of forested areas through natural regeneration and reforestation. He is also internationally recognized for promoting the concept of identifying and capturing the economic value of standing forests within protected areas, private forests and Indian reserves. This approach provides local communities with economic incentives to act as stewards of nature’s bounty, providing an attractive alternative to selling mineral and timber rights for short-term gain. This strategy has helped Costa Rica conserve ecosystems that would likely have been pillaged for resources, and was among the policies that have allowed the country to become one of Central America’s strongest economies. Rodriguez was also a key player in the establishment of a multinational marine park — Las Baulas National Marine Park — and international efforts to eliminate bottom trawling and other unsustainable fishing practices.
As a result of his passion and hard work, marine conservation is now being fully addressed for the first time in Costa Rica. In recognition of his contributions, he was honored as the first ever recipient of the Global Ocean Conservation Award in 2005.In 2006, Rodriguez received the first annual Conservation Leadership Award from the Virginia-based Blue Moon Fund in a ceremony at the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, D.C. The $150,000 award from the foundation recognized the significant advances made in both terrestrial and marine conservation during his years of service to the Costa Rican government.
At CI, Rodriguez is responsible for providing strategic direction and identifying key international and U.S. policy issues, organizations, and forums in which to engage. He leads the CI policy team that informs and influences bilateral, multilateral and international policies impacting the nexus of human well-being, economic development, climate change, ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation. Rodriguez also leads CI’s engagement with the governments and leaders of select developing countries, developed countries, and leaders of many of the multilaterals, the UN system and other NGOs with the goal of influencing human well-being through biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management. Lastly, he helps to ensure the availability of funds to implement and sustain the changes brought about by such polices. Rodriguez also plays a critical role as CI’s worldwide ambassador and lead on developing an institutional strategy for PES. He has been implementing a global fundraising plan for such compensation and climate change mitigation. To achieve these results, he has been meeting with environment, development and other ministries in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe to explain opportunities to leverage funding and create the mechanisms required for implementing effective PES programs.