Cuba Hosts High Level International Conference on the Environment

– Alejandra Garcia, Resumen English –

(resumen-english.org, July 6, 2023)

Cuba is currently hosting a 4 day high-level meeting of Ministers and experts of Environment of the member countries of the Group of 77+China. Nearly 1,400 researchers, academics, and students from over 23 countries are gathering in Havana to exchange experiences and sustainable practices. It is not by chance that the island has been chosen for this great and urgent meeting. Despite its limited resources, Cuba has made the fight against climate change a priority for several decades.

In the debates, which are divided into nine congresses and technical sessions, participants have key issues in their sights including how to reduce the impact of climate change, especially in underdeveloped nations, which suffer the most from the consequences of pollution caused by the major powers; how to achieve sustained and inclusive economic growth, participatory social development, environmental protection, and human dignity; as they figure out how to promote the development of a sustainable and inclusive economy, social development, and the protection of the environment and human dignity.

“Today, Cuba is hosting an event that gives us hope for the future,” President Miguel Díaz-Canel shared on his Twitter account on Tuesday, a few minutes after the start of the “International Convention on Environment and Development of the Group of 77 plus China,” the official name of the event, and the first of its kind since the island took over the group’s pro tempore presidency in January 2023.

According to the president of the Cuban Environment Agency of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), Maritza García, “Cuba is taking this opportunity to show the world its high-impact results in its management of ecosystems, biodiversity, and climate change. All these steps forward are proof of the political will and the awareness of Cubans regarding the care of the planet we live in.”

For the past six years, the country has been implementing the State Plan for Climate Change “Tarea Vida” (Life Tasks). The plan seeks to protect human life amid constant climate change and involves all sectors of society. It is worth noting that the Caribbean islands are among those that suffer the most from the impact of global warming and rising sea levels. The effects are already beginning to be seen in the long periods of drought, the increasingly devastating meteorological events, and the coastal communities that have been forced to relocate.

The threat of climate change is real. Meanwhile, the cost of inaction is enormous. Projections indicate that annual losses in the Caribbean alone could reach US$22 trillion by 2050, representing approximately 10 percent of this region’s economy today, according to the Office of Evaluation and Oversight.

“We are not standing idly by before this reality. Despite the effects of the cruel economic, financial, and commercial blockade imposed by the US on the island for more than six decades, Cuba is making superhuman efforts to allocate resources to mitigate the impact of climate change, protect its beaches, forests, corals, and much more,” CITMA Minister Elba Rosa Perez Montoya commented on Tuesday.

The agreements and debates that the International Convention is generating will not be empty rhetoric, as is the case with many of these events convened on the subject organized by the richest and most developed countries, where, in general, no changes are achieved.

This Friday, the thousands of people attending the world meeting will draft a final declaration to take action against climate change, soil degradation, and pollution and protect the biodiversity. They will also seek unity, solidarity, and international cooperation and call for more projects from the South to recover the region after the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is key.

The task ahead is immense. However, international groups such as the G77+ China are showing that living in harmony with the environment is not a utopia but a goal. The key lies in joining forces and resources, in the will to be an alternative to the consumerist and highly polluting model of the great powers. The key is to want a better world for future generations.

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