Last week Carmen travelled to Costa Rica to take part in the Costa Rica Fashion Summit as part of Mercedes Benz San Jose Fashion Week, the first Latin American forum on sustainability in fashion. And high on her trip agenda was a meeting with former Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla Miranda, who served her country for four years until 2014, and was its first female leader.
It came as no surprise that Costa Rica was the host country of choice for the region’s inaugural fashion summit, given its track record in terms of environmental credentials – it was recently named as “the most environmentally advanced place on earth” by the New Economics Foundation. But this is just one of a number of awards and impressive accolades held by the country.
A democracy since 1948, Cost Rica abolished its army in 1949 and has since relocated defence funds to support its education and health care programs. A proudly peaceful nation, former president Oscar Arias Sánchez won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for helping to bring stability to Central America. And within Latin America, Costa Rica has the best education system, highest English proficiency and ranks first in innovation and facets of research and development.
It is also ranked as the happiest nation, in terms of wellbeing and life expectancy, which has been attributed to a culture of forming solid social networks of friends, families and neighborhoods. And it is this spirit of unity that was one of the main topics of conversation during Carmen’s meeting with the former president. Both women share a desire to unite more Latin Americans, and Carmen acknowledged the valuable support that Costa Rica is providing to Venezuela.
The time she spent with Laura Chinchilla and their discussions around the topic of unity reinforced Carmen’s own views on the value of working together. For creatives, entrepreneurs and humanitarians, this means sharing know-how, experiences and creativity, and equally, following Costa Rica’s lead, realizing the importance of investing in nature, education and our collective wellbeing.