Jose Maria Figueres
The former president of Costa Rica joins the show.
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2008 13:27 GMT

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This week on One on One, meet the savvy and exceptionally articulate former president of Costa Rica.

Despite tough shoes to step into, he proved himself to be one of Costa Rica's most able political figures. As the youngest president of a Central American nation, he implemented changes that made him a respected, though frequently controversial, character.

His more recent efforts to promote sustainable development at a global level has made him something of an ambassador for the planet.

His father, Don Jose Figueres - or "Don Pepe" - dominated the country's political landscape as a president three times, and famously, the general who abolished the army.

His mother, beyond being first lady, was a respected politician and diplomat in her own right, as a congresswoman and ambassador.

Watching his parents usher in a more democratic era, the young Jose Maria shaped his own political mind.

He honed his skills at the prestigious American military academy, West Point, and later at Harvard University. By the age of 26 Figueres was running and restructuring the company his father created in 1928.

In 1988, President Oscar Arias, the Nobel Peace Laureate, asked Figueres to head up the national railway system, soon after which he became minister of foreign trade and then minister of agriculture.

His presidency from 1994 to 1998 saw some tough decisions to keep the country on track.

Out of for office more than a decade, now, Jose Maria Figueres concentrates on issues of sustainable development - travelling the world to bring together like minds and much-needed resources.

This episode of One on One airs from Friday, December 12 at the following times GMT:
Friday: 1030; Saturday: 0330, 1430, 2330; Sunday: 0730; Monday: 0030

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