Research ObjectivesCase Studies
PlanSmart in Costa Rica

PlanSmart in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica our transfer case study is the Río Grande de Tárcoles rivershed as problems urge for solutions there: the Tárcoles river is the most contaminated river in Central America. Challenges to be solved there are amongst others surface water contamination caused by organic materials, pesticides, heavy metals, pathogene microorganisms, non-biodegradable materials, but also ground water contamination caused by nitrates and fertilizers, erosion caused by livestock farming, flooding in urban areas, illegal constructions on the river banks and higher risk of diseases like diarrhea and gastroenteritis,

The problems regarding water quality and flooding in urban areas resemble the challenges the Lahn river in Germany is confronted with. Nevertheless ecosystems, economic activities and institutional background differ in both regions due to the geographic situation.

Approaches and tools used in PlanSmart can be tested in a different socio-ecological context there. Aditionally, learning effects ca nresult from our partners´models and experiences.

The work conists in two elements: on the one hand two governance models for water management in two different countries can be compared (the EU-LIFE Project LiLa – Living Lahn and the CGICRGTárcoles - Comisión de Gestión Integral de la Cuenca del Río Grande de Tárcoles). On the other hand the participatory process used in PlanSmart (the labs) can be tested in a different governance context.


  • PlanSmart meets project group SEE-URBAN-WATER at TU Darmstadt

    In December 2018 PlanSmart met another junior research group funded by the BMBF called SEE-URBAN-WATER on a joint two-day-workshop for exchange.

    SEE-URBAN-WATER works in areas in Costa Rica with a focus on interactions of technical infrastructure with urban ecosystem services as well as the role of urban environment in this relation in developing countries.

    During the workshop the participants could exchnage their experiences concerning inter- and trnasdisciplinary research, discuss on planning and implementing nature-based solutions on different spatial levels and identify options for cooperation of the two projects. Consequently the concepualization of joint stakeholder workshops in Costa Rica could be arranged and forwarded.

    We are looking forward to further collaboration with the SEE-URBAN-WATER research group.

    © PlanSmart
  • Interviews to gather data for the governance analysis

    In the Río Grande de Tárcoles rivershed on the one hand a lot of local initiatives that strive towards Nature-based Solutions (NbS) like river bank renaturation can be found. On the other hand there are national political programs like the strategy for climate change adaptation which want to foster the implementation of NbS in the future. For the implementation and coordination of activities and measures based on integrated river management, the responsible body nowadays is the CGICRGTárcoles - Comisión de Gestión Integral de la Cuenca del Río Grande de Tárcoles). According to their founding document is integrated by institutions like the Ministry of the Environment (MINAE), the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG), the Ministry of Health (MS), the National Company for Energy Supply (CNFL), the National Company for Water Supply (SENARA), universities (Nacional University – UNA, University of Costa Rica –UCR, Technical National University -UTN), local communities, NGOs, Local organisations and the Defense agency of inhabitants of the Republic (DHR).

    To be able to analyze the current governance model at Río Grande de Tárcoles and to get to know local stakeholders, PlanSmart conducted a first series of interviews with the institutions integrating CGICRGT and with other important political actors for river management in Costa Rica. Support for this activities was given by Fundación Neotrópica (Link: A next step would be to test participatory elements of the LahnLabs with these actors. Besides contacts could be made with different departments of the University of Costa Rica in San José, particularly with the School of Architecture, the School of Geography and the School of Political Science.

    Additionally to the governance analysis next steps are planning and preparing workshops for the beginning of next year. For this a river stretch to plan with has to be defined as well as the stakeholders that will take part and should test the instruments.