Ronald Sanabria

"The number one step to work with small and micro-entrepreneurs is demystifying what sustainability is all about, try to avoid complicated lexicon and words that only technical people can understand, and boil down best practices to common sense"

Ronald Sanabria, a native of Costa Rica, has worked with the tourism industry on certification, productivity, quality assurance and sustainability since 1992. He joined the Rainforest Alliance in 1998, first working with the Sustainable Agriculture Division. Two years later, he began leading the development of the Sustainable Tourism program. Ronald has coordinated projects in a dozen Latin American countries, supporting sustainable tourism training and technical assistance for hundreds of tourism businesses and community-based operations while also connecting them with the marketplace. He led the creation of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas (STCNA) and chaired its secretariat from 2003 to 2010. He assisted in the creation of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and sat on its board of directors from 2010 to 2012. Currently, as an independent consultant, he supports governmental and UN agencies, conservation NGOs (including the Rainforest Alliance, Fundecooperacion and others) and tourism companies in sustainability-related projects. He also represents the Rainforest Alliance at the UN One Planet’s Tourism Program as a member of its Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee. Ronald was the recipient of the 2008 EXPOTUR Friend of Nature Award in recognition of his efforts to promote sustainable tourism in Costa Rica. During his time at the Rainforest Alliance, his team was awarded the Gallina de Oro award from the Costa Rican Association of Rural Community-Based Tourism in 2008 for its support assisting communities engaged in tourism; the Travel + Leisure Global Vision Award in 2009; and The International Ecotourism Society’s Innovation Award in 2010. In 2017, the Brazilian Association of Tour Operators in celebration of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development recognized his work at the Rainforest Alliance as the international initiative that has inspired changes in tourism development in Brazil. Since 1992, he has taught at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Costa Rica. A Fulbright scholar, Ronald holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Costa Rica and an M.A. in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University.