Scholarships and Pro Bono Legal Services
I. SCOLARSHIPS TO LOW INCOME, HIGH PERFORMANCE LAW STUDENTS.
The Fundación Humberto Pacheco Coto set up the Humberto Pacheco Coto Scholarship to enable low income, high performance students to study at the ULACIT university, one of Costa Rica´s leading private universities with a highly recognized school of law. To date, the Foundation has granted three scholarships to students from rural areas, two of which are women. The Scholarship covers tuition fees, transportation and a stipend for books and study materials. Beneficiaries of the Scholarship are also entitled to join the internship programme at PACHECO COTO, which allows them to acquaint themselves with the different areas of practice comprised by the legal profession.
The students are required to maintain a minimum grade average of 85% in all subjects, to participate in at least one student club at the University and to complete the basic curriculum in four years.
II. COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH ULACIT
FHPC sponsors a cooperation agreement that allows law students from ULACIT to be eligible for the internship programs at PACHECO COTO, wherein the students are assigned, for periods of up to three months, to one of PACHECO COTO´s practice groups and are exposed to the day-to-day experiences of a full fledged law firm, guided by associates of the Firm.
On the other hand, the FHPC sponsors seminars and tutorials imparted by members of PACHECO COTO at ULACIT and other locations.
III. PRO BONO LEGAL SERVICES TO THE TECHNICAL SCHOOL OF SANTA ANA
As part of its program for communal extension, FHPC sponsors pro bono legal services to the Technical School of Santa Ana, one of the most successful public schools.
Services have included advice in bidding processes for the construction of the new sport facilities; agreements with suppliers and sponsors of school activities, review of employment policies, and frequent inquiries about legal issues with repercussion on the school’s operation and administration.
IV. PRO BONO LEGAL SERVICES TO INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
Under the Indigenous Law (Law 6172) and related executive decrees, the indigenous communities of Costa Rica, which amount to only about 2% of the population, are granted vast amounts of territory over which, through Integral Development Associations, they can exercise ample and exclusive jurisdiction. The territory under the jurisdiction of the indigenous communities, pursuant to Law 6172, is of approximately 330,000 hectares and amounts to approximately 6.5% of the total territory of Costa Rica. However, a large percentage of this area is still in the hands of non-indigenous third parties, the government having the obligation to recover those lands and transfer them to the indigenous communities and their respective Development Associations. However, the Costa Rican government lacks the financial capacity to honor its obligation to recover and reintegrate lands to the indigenous territories, let alone pay for environmental services therein.
According to a recent survey of forest surface coverage conducted by the Technological Institute of Costa Rica and the Alberta University of Canada; Costa Rica has a coverage of approximately 49%. One the most important private forest owners are the indigenous people, who have organized themselves in Developmental Associations with a total area of 329,805 hectares of forest. These areas are distributed throughout the country, but highly concentrated towards the eastern sector, which has the largest areas of dense forest in the nation.
Undoubtedly, these forests represent an important reservoir of carbon, the preservation of which is vital to prevent the release of thousands of tons of carbon that would further deteriorate the adverse condition of global warming. On the other hand, these territories are inhabited by the poorest percentile of Costa Ricans, as evidenced by the high rates of unemployment and low economic income of their residents.
It is estimated that within the 24 indigenous territories recognized by law in Costa Rica, approximately 191,000 hectares are non-intervened dense forest. The potential total of Carbon Dioxide stored in the 24 Indigenous territories of Costa Rica is estimated at 136,675,832 Metric Tons.
Furthermore, it is estimated that there are at least 63,446 hectares of pasture and secondary forest in the indigenous territories, with no forest. If an adequate reforestation plan is conducted in this area, it will become eligible under the Kyoto Protocol and carbon certificates can be issued and negotiated in the regulated market by the investor who undertakes this project.
If a project of environmental administration is developed in said 63,446 hectares, it will have the capacity to fix 8.5 tons of air biomass per hectare per year, which preliminary calculations suggest that 16 MT of CO2 per hectare per year would be generated, representing 989,599 MT of CO2 per year.
The Foundation is working on a proposal intended to find a government or private sector investor, or a combination of both, who would be capable and willing to finance the reforestation project and pay for the conservation of the primary forest, issuing certificates and securities that can be traded in the carbon dioxide regulated or unregulated markets, the proceeds of which will benefit the indigenous communities in Costa Rica.
PACHECO COTO has provided pro bono counsel to the indigenous communities concerning their legal requirements to recover titles to land that should be under their domain; to structure the legal vehicles that would empower the communities to preserve their territories and the environmental benefits thereof; to set up the vehicles that would enable the indigenous communities to manage the resources generated under the conservation projects and set up the programs that would allow these funds to be used for the benefit of the indigenous communities in, for instance, improvement of infrastructure; development of micro businesses in harmony with the cultural and social heritage; educational programs and the like.
Pro bono Legal Services to the Global Foodbanking Network/Banco de Alimentos de Costa Rica.
GFN is a US charity that promotes food-banking around the world as a tool in the fight against hunger. GFN is committed to assisting with the development of food-banking throughout Central and South America. Pacheco Coto is providing GFN and Banco de Alimentos de Costarica pro bono legal assistance regarding the application that Banco de Alimentos de Costa Rica (“BACR”) is submitting to become a member of GFN.