The best of home: Ambassadors to Singapore provide an insider's guide to their favourite destinations
PUBLISHED: FEB 12, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT
Favourite destination in Costa Rica: Guanacaste Province in north-western Costa Rica. This is a land full of tradition, beautiful beaches, magnificent mountains and friendly people.
Guanacaste first captured my attention in the 1970s and became my retreat, as well as that of my family and friends. While living in Costa Rica, I visited it four times a year. Since I moved to Singapore, I have been returning to Costa Rica once or twice a year. I try to reserve time to visit Guanacaste, where I own a rustic holiday home with some friends.
The Mission in Singapore will participate in two Tennis Tournaments following the success of the Foreign Affairs Futsal Cup back in September.
This time around members of 14 missions will play along side representatives from MFA Singapore.
The tournaments will be held as follows:
November 19th - Tenni Gold - Ambassador Level Tournament to be held with the support of Sofitel Sentosa and Banana Tennis.
November 12th - Tennis Silver - Open to all. Games to be held with the support of MFA Singapore and Banana Tennis.
Stay tuned for the results!
The Latin America Fair 2016, April 6-10 of April, organised by the Latin Chamber of Commerce and Big Box Pte. Ltd. supported by the Latin American Embassies in Singapore.
This is a trade show event that will give you the opportunity to meet representatives from Latin American Countries from different industries as well as government representatives. Come talk to us and discover the great range of possibilities.
The Embassy of Costa Rica represented by FDI-Trade Counsellor Alfonso Murillo will be giving a presentation titled "Doing Business in Costa Rica" on April 8th from 14:00 - 15:00 hrs. Register to reserve your seat here.
Published: 15 March 2016
NUS Enterprise’s start-up incubator, Blk71, received the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Costa Rica His Excellency Manuel González Sanz on 10 March. The Minister was in Singapore from 9 to 12 March on an official visit.
Mr González was hosted by NUS Enterprise CEO Dr Lily Chan, who gave a presentation on Blk71’s inception and the entrepreneurial programmes conducted by NUS Enterprise. She also highlighted initiatives such as Modern Ageing Singapore and InnovFest Unbound.
Two guest speakers — Mr Evan Cheah, Director of the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise; and Mr Chong Choon Leong, Senior Manager of ITE Education Services (Middle East, Africa and Latin America) gave the Costa Rican delegation an overview of their respective organisations.
Mr Cheah explained how the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise has helped governments worldwide as a “one-stop shop” for those wanting to tap on expertise found within Singapore’s public sector. Mr Chong presented on the ways ITE Education Services has enabled other countries to develop innovative vocation-based training modelled on Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education system.
During the short question-and-answer session following the presentations, the Costa Rican guests were keen to know about the educational landscape in Singapore and the tertiary-level options available. They also wanted to find out how Singapore had identified the industries it should develop.
Costa Rica recognises the leadership of Singapore and how it has developed a diversified and knowledge-based economy, said Mr González. The Central American country, like Singapore, also relies on human capital as a pillar of its economy.
“Until now, we don’t have much experience...in start-ups or creating the entrepreneurial mindset. We need to have our young people being not just job seekers but job creators,” explained Mr González.
The visit ended with a tour of Blk71 facilities including Plug-In@Blk71, which is jointly hosted by NUS Enterprise, Media Development Authority Singapore and Singtel Innov8.
Mr González subsequently gave a lecture at Yale-NUS College titled “Costa Rica: Disarmed Democracy and the Rule of International Law” on 11 March.
Published by NUS: http://news.nus.edu.sg/highlights/10155-costa-rican-minister-visits-blk71
MFA Press Statement: Introductory Visit to Singapore by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Costa Rica His Excellency Manuel González Sanz, 9 to 12 March 2016
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Costa Rica His Excellency Manuel González Sanz is on an introductory visit to Singapore from 9 to 12 March 2016.
Minister González was hosted to dinner by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. Both sides reaffirmed the warm and growing relations between Singapore and Costa Rica, and exchanged views on ways to deepen and broaden bilateral cooperation. They also discussed regional and international developments, including environmental cooperation and climate change.
Minister González and Minister Balakrishnan also signed the Costa Rica-Singapore Open Skies Agreement, which provides the framework for greater connectivity, and business and people-to-people exchanges, between both countries.
Minister González also called on Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang this afternoon. Minister González will depart Singapore on 12 March 2016.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
10 MARCH 2016
Published by MFA Singapore: http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/media_centre/press_room/pr/2016/201603/press_201603100.html
The MOUs outline the framework agreement for the provision of aviation training by CAAS at the aviation training academies of ASECNA and COCESNA as well as the mutual sharing of aviation knowledge.
Theodore Koumelis - 23 February 2016, 09:25
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has signed new training Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar(ASECNA) and the Central American Corporation for Air Navigation Services (COCESNA). The MOUs outline the framework agreement for the provision of aviation training by CAAS at the aviation training academies of ASECNA and COCESNA as well as the mutual sharing of aviation knowledge.
Under the MOUs, CAAS, through its training arm – the Singapore Aviation Academy will deliver training programmes in the areas of air traffic management and aviation safety at the training units of ASECNA and COCESNA. The training programmes based on international aviation requirements and industry best practices will address competency gaps and seek to advance civil aviation in these regions.
Mr Kevin Shum, Director-General of CAAS said, “Civil aviation in Africa and Latin America is growing strongly. Both regions will need to attract and train more aviation personnel to support the rapid growth in their regions. In this regard, the signing of the new training MOUs is an affirmation of CAAS’ commitment to the development of aviation human capital for the advancement of international civil aviation, in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s ‘No Country Left Behind’ initiative.”
MOU signing between Mr Jorge Antonio Vargas Araya, Executive President of the Central American Corporation for Air Navigation Services and Mr Kevin Shum, Director-General of Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore with His Excellency Jairo Hernandez-Milian, Ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica, witnessing the signing ceremony
Director-General of ASECNA, Mr Amadou Ousmane Guitteye said, “ASECNA is most grateful to CAAS for its commitment to aviation capacity-building on the African continent. The MOU between CAAS and ASECNA will have positive impact for both parties. For ASECNA, apart from satisfying our own needs, the MOU will help member States and even non-member States gain access to quality training at a lower cost than having to travel to Singapore for training.”
Executive President of COCESNA, Mr Jorge Antonio Vargas Araya said, “For COCESNA, the signing of the MOU brings to our professional and technical staff the opportunity to develop capabilities and abilities in accordance with the best practices worldwide in the aviation sector, and also enables the Singapore Aviation Academy, through their training programmes, to take a regional approach towards fulfilling the needs and requirements of all ICAO Member States.”
The MOUs were signed by the Director-General of CAAS, Mr Kevin Shum, the Director-General of ASECNA, Mr Amadou Ousmane Guitteye and the Executive President of COCESNA, Mr Jorge Antonio Vargas Araya on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow on 17 February 2016. The MOU between CAAS and COCESNA was also witnessed by the Ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica, His ExcellencyJairo Hernandez-Milian.
Photo caption: MOU signing between Mr Amadou Ousmane Guitteye, Director-General of the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar and Mr Kevin Shum, Director-General of Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
BY HENRY GOULDING
PUBLISHED: 4:15 AM, FEBRUARY 18, 2016
SINGAPORE — Costa Rica is a stunning country. The sight of its ancient volcanoes majestically framing the horizon is enough to take one’s breath away. But it’s a country that offers something more than just excellent vistas: Its volcanic nutrient-rich soil and the high altitudes are ideally suited to producing some of the world’s best coffee.
So when a coffee-lover like me was offered a chance to fly down to discover the journey of coffee from bean to cup, it was the perfect place to do so. And there was an added element to the trip. It was also a chance to see how these are grown in an environmentally responsible way.
While I am aware of the discussion about the coffee industry and its impact on the world’s forests and biodiversity, I admit I know far less about it than I should.
At Costa Rica, a glimpse at what goes on behind the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Programme was a proverbial shot of espresso.
Launched in 2003, the coffee-machine company’s programme is done in collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance to help protect the future of the highest quality coffees for consumers, as well as secure livelihoods for the farmers that grow these.
Juan Diego Roman, Nespresso’s Green Coffee Project Manager, explained how its programme supplies farmers with the knowledge and technical assistance from dedicated agronomists and with help from coffee suppliers such as Volcafe.
Among the information farmers get is soil analysis, which allows them to figure out the right amount of fertilisers to be used in their farms (without posing a threat to the local wildlife).
Being in the programme also means adhering to a strict set of criteria for sustainability. This includes considering issues such as crop management, ecosystem conservation, wildlife protection, working conditions and even child labour.
The son of a coffee farmer himself, Roman highlighted the key challenge to implementing the AAA programme is really getting farmers convinced to make the change in their practices.
After all, the global surge in consumer demand has spurred many to abandon time-honoured agricultural practices (which are considered inefficient) for allegedly more effective methods such as producing ‘sun-grown’ coffee, where they are grown in plantations with no forested canopy. To switch once more to sustainable practices is not easy, but the farmers all say that the approach has changed their lives for the better.
All this means that investing in sustainable coffee practices is just the tip of the programme’s iceberg — it’s not just about the coffee but the farmers, too.
The AAA Sustainable Quality Programme also offers a holistic chain of support, training, financing and technical assistance to farmers.
Nespresso pays a premium for quality and awards bursaries for farmers, which incentivises them to adopt and implement best practices. Mind you, this is not a charitable initiative but one that seeks to create real and lasting value by motivating farmers to see beyond revenue and coffee prices, to a more balanced approach that can increase their income in a sustainable way.
These farmers are free to sell their harvest to any companies, but the fact that farmers have consistently supplied their top quality coffee to Nespresso show the trust and loyalty towards the programme and its commercial viability.
So with the farmers taken good care of, what of the crop? When I did my own cherry-picking, the cherries I saw were an unexpected vibrant red — which is supposed to be top notch. Nespresso only chooses those that are big, red and of a certain size and weight, which can only be identified if they’re painstakingly hand-picked.
Once the cherries are transported to Volcafe’s collection point, the first of many checks are undertaken. A sample batch of cherries is inspected to see how much floats to the top — an indication that these are “bad”. After this, an average is worked out for the entire delivery and the farmer’s fee gets calculated.
The cherries are then transported by the truckload to one of Volcafe’s wet mills for the green beans to be extracted. They are then sun-dried (after the flesh and pulp are removed). Inside a greenhouse the size of three football pitches, the beans are laid out for further drying.
There are farms, of course, that aren’t part of the AAA programme, and the difference is obvious. These farms do not usually take care of soil cover and instead depend heavily on pesticides when growing their coffee.
In comparison, at farmer Tomas Gutierrez’s AAA farm, for instance, the temperature felt significantly lower and there was more vegetative cover as well as shady trees — definitely a much more conducive environment for coffee to grow in.
At yet another farm, we met up with Don Edgar, who served as an example of how the programme has helped improve the livelihood of a typical farmer and his family. Walking around his little oasis up in the mountains was such a pleasure — he had fruit trees galore, ranging from grapefruits to sweet limes. In an otherwise challenging industry, it looks like he has managed to prosper.
And as our guest shared his personal success story, I couldn’t help but think that even when it comes to things we don’t think twice about — having a cup of coffee — making informed choices to support a more sustainable lifestyle is still rather important. After all, if you take care of nature; nature will take care of you.
SAN JOSE - Mexico and Central American countries approved a plan on Wednesday for more flights that would allow thousands of Cubans stranded in Costa Rica to continue on to the United States.
Regional governments meeting in Guatemala deemed as a "success" the first pilot trip last week, when 180 Cubans flew to El Salvador, took a bus to Mexico and received transit visas to go to the U.S. border.
"This allows us to pass to the second stage, with two weekly flights following the same route," said Manuel Gonzalez, Costa Rica's foreign minister.
The authorities, who did not specify how many people would leave on each flight, plan to give priority to pregnant women, children and families among the 7,800 Cubans trapped in Costa Rica since mid-November when Nicaragua closed its borders.
The flights will begin on Feb. 4, and regional governments will meet again in mid-February to evaluate the plan.
Thousands of Cubans have turned to the Central American route to try to reach the United States, spurred by fears that a recent detente between Havana and Washington will end preferential U.S. asylum rights for Cubans that allow them to enter the United States by land without a visa. Those found at sea are deported. REUTERS