Carlos Alvarado Quesada

Ban Ki-moon
Scandebergs for TIME

Costa Rica is a small country, but its President, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, has shown great ambition in tackling the climate crisis. He recognizes the need to confront this existential challenge with innovative and urgent action. This year, the U.N. recognized Costa Rica’s trailblazing approach and ambitious climate policies with its highest environmental honor, naming it a U.N. Champion of the Earth.

Since becoming President in 2018, President Alvarado has established a bold path for Costa Rica, setting targets to reform transport, energy, waste and land use. He is building on his nation’s rich legacy of sustainable development and environmentally mindful growth.

In an age of populism, isolationism and polarized politics, President Alvarado’s defense of the multilateral system and his commitment to finding global solutions to global challenges are highly commendable. His actions serve to remind the world that even small nations can take the lead.

Ban is a former Secretary-General of the U.N. and the deputy chair of the Elders, a group of global leaders advocating for peace, justice and human rights