Four Perspectives on a Sustainable Future in Nosara, Costa Rica

Greg Munno, Álvaro Salas Castro, Tina Nabatchi, Christian M. Freitag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The town of Nosara on Costa Rica’s Nicoya peninsula is home to a vibrant community of diverse residents and is adjacent to an important turtle nesting site. However, tensions between lifelong residents, more recent transplants, visitors, and developers have increased as more of the world discovers this once-isolated haven. Climate change, income inequality, and alienation from a distant government apparatus have further complicated effective land-use planning and fractured social cohesion. Using a mixed-method approach of in-depth interviews (n = 67), Q methodology (n = 79), and public deliberation (n = 88), we explored residents’ priorities for the future of their town. The results indicate four different perspectives on Nosara’s future. Despite the tensions among those four perspectives, they show consensus on one overarching community issue: the need for a sustainable development plan. The case also shows how Q-methodology can assist scholars and practitioners who embrace participatory approaches to policy development and conflict resolution in the environmental arena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16982
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Costa Rica
  • Q methodology
  • public engagement
  • sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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