The YES Impact Lab in Costa Rica began at the beginning of September and ran for two weeks. By means of an application process, 23 students from 16 countries and 15 different areas of study were selected beforehand. In addition to bringing their own idea for a sustainability project to the Lab, the participants were also required to establish advance footprint calculations and scenarios for their respective homelands and their path towards achieving the goals set out by the Paris Agreement. The Lab took place in Talamanca and San José with support from the local YES partners "LEAD University" and the Swiss organisation Avina Stiftung.
The first six days in the capital San José were devoted to climate and energy policy models on both the macro and the local level. Among others things, the Yes Group held discussions with experts from Costa Rica's governmental and administrative institutions, as well as with leading minds in the area of urban sustainability, such as Monica Araya, TED Talk speaker on the subject of "Fossil Free Costa Rica". The second week focused on the rural environment, looking at sustainable business models and social enterprises in the area of "land management". To this end, there were three visits to economical, ecological and socially sustainable projects, among others, a sustainably operated banana plantation.
At the same time, during the entire lab, the development of individual project ideas remained in the foreground. With interactive methods, pitches and coaching, the participant's creative potential was activated and their entrepreneurial talents were put to the test. This yielded several innovative business models and sustainability projects at the YES Costa Rica 2017 Lab.
YES Labs goes beyond purely transferring knowledge. They are interactive and serve to bring together participants from a variety of cultural and social backgrounds. In intensive fortnight-long Impact Labs, students, graduates and experts develop answers to questions concerning the challenges of sustainability using both theory and practice. These questions are put forward by local partners (universities, businesses, organisations). Participants from all sectors and countries come together and develop appropriate solutions in an interdisciplinary, intercultural and practical setting. At the same time, a global network is being created that encourages lively exchange beyond the individual courses and promotes sustainable development worldwide.
The YES alumni community meanwhile consists of around 1,500 individuals from over 140 countries. Many alumni now hold senior positions in companies, government institutions and NGOs. A large percentage have successfully turned a sustainable business idea into reality.