Curridabat, Costa Rica joins the Biophilic Cities Network as our newest partner city. Curridabat is located in the San José Province in Costa Rica and includes four districts: Curridabat, Granadilla, Sánchez, and Tirrases, with a population of around 65,000 inhabitants. Curridabat enhances citizen wellbeing by integrating nature into its community and has conceptualized a new vision for the city called “Sweet City” (Ciudad Dulce). The goal of “Sweet City” is to increase conservation efforts within the city specifically through increasing the number of pollinators along with a number of other efforts. The project, which began in March 2016, has already made progress toward this goal by planting native trees and plants in order to improve the watershed and attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, bats, and birds. According to Mayor Edgar Mora:

We want every private garden in Curridabat to be full of color, every street a biological corridor, every neighborhood an ecosystem. We’re reintroducing native species … and [seeking to attract] tropical bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. 

Sweet City aims to improve the experience of its inhabitants through five fundamental dimensions: Biodiversity, Infrastructure, Habitat, Coexistence and Productivity. This vision has been fully incorporated into the Strategic Municipality Plan and is a priority for the city. The success of the Sweet City vision has made it a new development model for small and medium sized cities with limited economic resources, but a surplus of natural resources.

A few of Curridabat’s other sustainability and biophilic efforts include increasing walkability, establishing greater biodiversity in public and private spaces, creating more parks and public areas, and educating its citizens through numerous workshops and social events. Curridabat is also rethinking the city’s relationship with its river through water sensitive urban design practices. Through these efforts, Curridabat fosters better connections between its people and nature. Curridabat’s hope in further integrating nature into the urban space is to reduce the stress levels of the population, increase productivity, improve resiliency, and develop a deeper sense of community.

Curridabat has won numerous awards for its sustainability and planning efforts including the Best City Plan award from the U.S. nonprofit Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) in 2014. In 2016, the United Nations-Habitat project awarded Curridabat for it Sweet City vision program and later that year the city also received the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. Curridabat was also given the Citizen Participation Prize from Le Monde for its Walkway Project, which used an app to obtain data on how wheelchair-users use Curridabat’s sidewalks. This experiment influenced the City Council to designate an additional $1M (5% of the annual budget) towards walkability development for the city.

With these efforts in mind, Biophilic Cities looks forward to working with Curridabat to advance biophilic planning practices in Central America and throughout the world.