I wrote this article as an example of success use of the Social Progress Index in Latin America. The original version here: http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/an-index-for-action-2016-update-of-the-social-progress-index-for-the-cities-of-colombia/


The Social Progress Index for the Cantons of Costa Rica was developed by one of our regional partners in Latin America, the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development – CLACDS; part of INCAE, along with other members of the platform Costa Rica Propone. This platform was created by the Mesa de Innovación Social del Consejo Presidencial de Innovación y Talento Humano*, led by the Vice-president of Costa Rica, Mrs. Ana Helena Chacón, in which Costa Rican institutions from different sectors participate with the purpose of formulating initiatives and public policies that promote and incentivize social innovation in Costa Rica.

The Social Progress Imperative has two regional partners in Latin America: CLACDS; part of INCAE, which works in Central America; and Fundación Avina**, which works in South America.

CLACDS works to position the term ‘social progress’ as a new paradigm for development, and the Social Progress Index as a concrete and practical advocacy tool for the whole region. It also builds national social progress networks that drive innovation and change in social policies with the idea that these networks be strong, dynamic and sustainable. INCAE also strives to foster a community of regional experts that actively share their knowledge and lessons learned between countries. Finally, it creates powerful case studies in Mesoamerica that can be used to promote and inform the global expansion of the Social Progress Imperative.

From Data to Action

The Social Progress Index for Cantons of Costa Rica was launched on March 7th, 2016, and with it Costa Rica became the first country to measure social progress in all its cantons.***




Using the Cantonal Social Progress Index, the platform Costa Rica Propone identified the main priorities that need to be addressed in each of the 81 cantons of Costa Rica. The goal is to transform the cantons into social innovation spaces, with more inclusive, competitive, safe, sustainable and resilient societies.

Even though the Index was launched just this year,  its data has already triggered some social interventions that are having an impact.





Public-private social initiatives

  1. The Institute for Municipal Development and Advisory Services (IFAM) has trained 6069 new authorities from the 81 cantons and 8 Municipal District Councils of Costa Rica so they know how to apply the Social Progress Index during their administrations. These training sessions took place within the framework of the 10th National Training Program. They also learned about the Cantonal Index results, and as Yanina Soto, IFAM Executive President points out, “This index allows the local decision making authorities to know where they are failing, and here at IFAM we can help them improve the quality of life of the people they govern.” In order to impart this training, IFAM was trained by CLACDS regarding the definition of social progress and how to use the tool. The training process for all the new selected local authorities lasted two months.
  1. Reto País Award: This is a social innovation award organized by Impactico and promoted by the Mesa de Innovación Social del Consejo Presidencial de Innovación y Talento Humano. They invited all the citizens of Costa Rica to propose creative solutions for four issues identified by the Cantonal Index: waste sorting and collection, access to advanced and technical education, obesity rate, and traffic accidents. In total, the project received 739 proposals. The awards ceremony took place on August 11th 2016, and the winning projects were:
  • Soldado Negro (Black Soldier): a solid organic waste management system that applies an innovative biological process based on using larvae from a native Costa Rican insect.
  • Más Cleta (More Bike): an initiative that proposes the establishment of an electric bicycle-renting network. The bikes would be charged with photovoltaic solar power. The objective is to offer alternative transportation that is clean and healthy for citizens and that promotes the use of bicycles in the country.
  • Centro de Formación Integral para la Conducción de Motocicletas (Comprehensive Training Center for Motorcycle Drivers): a center for new motorcycle drivers who require training for their drivers’ tests, and to encourage safe behavior and proper sharing of the roads.
  • Youth Challengea network of young successful entrepreneurs who offer talks, workshops, and coaching for high school students.
Teletica, one of the most important television networks in Costa Rica, broadcast four stories covering the issues identified by the Cantonal Index.
  1. Hackathon: This event will take place during the first four months of 2017 and will be organized by Desarrollando América Latina (Developing Latin America). The hackathon will utilize the results of the Social Progress Index for the Cantons of Costa Rica to produce innovative solutions that improve lives in the cantons with the most pressing social issues. http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/our-first-hackathon-costa-rica/
  1. Central American Healthcare Initiative (CAHI): University students will be exposed to Social Progress Index data on health outcomes and by sometime in 2017 will develop projects to improve health in the worst performing cantons.
  1. U Emprende: (University Entrepreneurs): This program will convene, evaluate and reward student entrepreneurs at colleges and universities and the schools that support their social enterprises. University students will find solutions for one of the issues highlighted by the Social Progress Index for the Cantons of Costa Rica. Yo Emprendedor is the organizer of this competition.

These initiatives show that the Social Progress Index is a flexible tool that is capable of identifying social issues at both the national and local. This Index provides the information that allows actors in government, business, and civil society to carry out more efficient initiatives to solve different social problems.

*The following institutions are part of the Mesa de Innovación Social del Consejo Presidencial de Innovación y Talento Humano:



**Fundacion Avina leads leads the deployment of the Social Progress Index in South America.


*** A canton is the political, administrative and government unit closest to the citizens. Its performance affects the development of local populations (land-use planning, public works, cultural activities, etc.).