YES Costa Rica 2017

YES is an amazing experience that I would recommend time and time again. The coursework was really interesting and useful professionally, and I developed lasting international friendships that I maintain six years later.
Ana Pantelic, YES Alumna, Director Business Development, Fundación Capital

Build capacities, create memories, shape our future: Youth Encounter on Sustainability YES is your impact lab to develop entrepreneurial skills and minds for sustainable change. Set in a truly diverse environment, YES offers a unique learning experience for students and young professionals from all fields and countries.

YES Costa Rica 2017

August 27 – September 8, 2017 ¦ San José and Talamanca, Costa Rica

  • Do you want to tackle challenges like energy system transformations, resource use, urban and rural infrastructures – on-site and at home?
  • Do you want to explore models for businesses, regions, societies in a low-carbon world?
  • Do you want to develop your own project and business ideas with experts from practice and academia, and boost your personal and career path?
  • Do you want to get inspired by 30 peers from all around the world gathering in Costa Rica, famous as sustainable land-use pioneer and for its pledge to become climate neutral by 2021?


Join in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Become part of the YES community with 1,462 change makers and sustainability professionals in 143 countries. Get 3 ECTS credits (ask your university for recognition).

Final application deadline: Closed to all applicants





Ambitious learning goals

After the lab, you will be able to:

  • Analyze local and global sustainability challenges: low carbon economies and societies, energy system transformations, resilient land-use strategies, sustainable value chains
  • Connect solutions and cases across different contexts: Sustainable projects, businesses, cities, regions, societies; circular economy and closed-loop thinking
  • Apply practical impact tools like systemic problem structuring, sense making, carbon footprinting, business model canvas, convincing communication, teamwork
  • Critically discuss shifting paradigms of “well-being” and “development”
  • Immerse yourself with ease into multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary environments, knowing how to deal constructively with social dynamics and frictions
  • Go home and start working on your own refined and challenged business or project idea
  • Get in touch with the YES Alumni, 1,462 change makers from 140 countries: People like these guys who started projects and businesses like these


Unique setting

Hosting partner: Lead University, San José. First 3 and last 3 nights in San José (hotel, shared rooms). 6 nights in Rancho Tranquilo, Hone Creek, a jungle farm retreat near the Carribbean coast (shared cabins).


State-of-the-art program

Before Lab: Pre-Assignments
YES Lab:
Analyzing challenges
  • Approach and analyze key global challenges, present own expertise and projects at home
  • Skill-sets and mind-sets: tools to deal with systems, complexity and diversity, closed loop thinking and circular economy, build empathy, reflect personal and career path
Assessing solutions
  • Focus topics (vary between labs)
  • Explore local cases and assess impacts, site visits and hands-on engagement, deal with stakeholder dynamics
Making sustainability work
  • Business model canvas, pitch and refine project proposals with peers + experts, effective presentation and communication (workshop with ULEAD)
  • Define milestones + next steps
After Lab:Enter YES Alumni community, realize own projects, expand your network to advance your personal, academic & professional development

Daily Schedule (coming soon)

Find daily schedule of the last YES Costa Rica 2016 here.

The right people, the right topics: YES helped me to define my career path. It taught me a simple lesson: Sustainability is not up in the air, it is down on earth right under our feet!
Ivan Huang, YES Alumnus, Tourism Manager and Developer Light Electro Vehicle




Early application deadline: April 10, 2017 (USD 100 early bird discount on your fee / deadline for applicants from countries that need visa for Costa Rica)
Final application deadline: Closed to all applicants



To be eligible for YES you are an enrolled student at a university and/or you have early-career experience in industries, businesses, professional associations, think-tanks, public administrations, academic institutions, international organizations, and NGO. You are between 21 and 34 years old and proficient in English.

You show a high dedication to sustainability, you have a strong interest in interdisciplinary collaboration and intercultural exchange, and you are eager to share your skills and expertise in the YES lab and with the YES Alumni community.


Tuition fee

  • 5 full tuition fee scholarships available!
  • USD 750 for students (60% discount)
  • USD 1,875 (professionals, participants sent by institutions and/or with third-party funding)*

For more information on scholarships: see application process --> scholarships. No travel scholarships.

The participation fee is subsidized by the YES partners. It covers lodging (usually rooms of 2), full board, all local transfers in between lab venues, high-quality experts and facilitators, all program activities including excursions and entrance fees, lab documents and materials, and the YES Alumni community membership; all of which are arranged by the course organizers.

You are responsible for paying and organizing your visa (if required – start process at least 4 months before lab), your health and travel insurance (mandatory), your international or domestic travel to the respective meeting point for the lab, and any additional activity outside the lab program.

You are responsible for paying and organizing your visa, your health and travel insurance (mandatory), your travel to San José / Costa Rica, and any additional activity outside the lab program.

Important: Check now if you need a visa for Costa Rica. Visa application process can take up to 4 months. Applicants needing a visa are strongly recommended to apply before April 10, 2017 (early application deadline).

*Are you a for-profit company willing to send your talents or trainees? Are you a company, organization or institution interested in an institutional partnership with YES? Check our partner page or contact us.


How to apply

Your application consists of an online form and includes your CV, motivation letter and recommendation letter.

The YES selection committee reviews the applications and selects the YES participants within 5 days after the deadline(s). Places are limited (early application strongly recommended). The selected participants will receive an acceptance email, describing the steps to follow before the lab. There is a waiting list for places that may open up at a later stage. Unsuccessful applicants are very welcome to apply for future labs.

Faculty in Costa Rica 2017

Silvana Comino

Silvana Comino

Director YES Lab Costa Rica, PM Climate Projects, myclimate, Switzerland

Lubica Bogantes

Lubica Bogantes

Local YES Lab Coordinator, Project Panager, People in Need, Costa Rica

Stefan Gara

Stefan Gara

Managing Director of ETA Environmental Consulting, Austria

Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner

Director and Managing Partner of Sustainserv, Lecturer Harvard, United States

Monica Ventura

Monica Ventura

Arttherapist and psychologist, Mente a color, Costa Rica

Guest experts (tbc / more coming soon)

Roberto Artavia

Roberto Artavia

President INCAE Business School. Academic council LEAD University, Costa Rica

Sebastian Falla

Sebastian Falla

Strategic Sustainability Consulting. Founder, senior consultant Susterra. Costa Rica/Colombia