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The 1st Cooperation Conference of the Association of Caribbean States to kick off on Wednesday in Havana will welcome different projects aimed at benefiting the integral development of the region.
Transportation and maritime and air connectivity, an action plan to relieve the impact of climate change for the Caribbean and the reduction of its effects on the coral reefs as well as the control of invading species are some of the issues that will gather over 100 regional experts in search for solutions.
During a press conference held at the Hotel Habana Libre, Jesus Guerra Bell, specialist of the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, recalled some of the milestones related to climate change in the region, that were announced at the Symposium on the Caribbean Sea held in November of 2015, that allowed to identify invading species in the coastal areas.
The program underway by Association of Caribbean States (AEC) that confronts the consequences of climate change takes into account the Paris Agreement of December 2015, which led Cuba to introduce proposals at the 1st Cooperation Conference.
One of Cuba´s initiatives is aimed at the management of coastal erosion and the protection of the island´s ecosystems, said Guerra Bell.
He highlighted the importance of the issue because the majority of the members of the AEC live off tourism and fishing and the damage to coastal resources means social problems making it difficult to sustain their economies.
The CITMA specialist added that this is a project that involves 10 countries. He said that other issues will also be debated related to coral restoration and how climate change damages these natural barriers.
Cuba will also take two other proposals at the AEC meeting that has to do with the contaminating source that generates gulfweed and the possibility of using these algae in the production of animal food.
Guerra Bell pointed out that each one of the proposals lies in the knowledge of the Cuban institutions and reiterated the will in sharing the scientific results with the Caribbean sister nations.
With a sea that unites the Caribbean nations, this is one of the most important challenges in the region: connectivity, said Pedro Suarez, specialist of the Cuban Transportation Ministry that assessed the high prices of travel and freight and the few means of communication as an incentive for cooperation among the AEC member States.
Joint work will be represented at the 1st Conference among which will be the project of maritime routes of the Caribbean Sea, destined at offering information to importers and exporters on the services in the different ports and who to contact.
Suarez added that they will also talk about a master plan which are actions to be carried out for the port sector to be able to face the changes of the economic environment like the expansion of the Panama Canal, the Nicaraguan canal project or the mega fusion of transnationals.
He stressed that cooperation in the field has advanced tremendously, but “we are not satisfied because a multi destination tourism development is impossible if there are no true transportation possibilities”.
According to Cuban Civil Defense specialist, Marbelis Rodriguez, the reduction in the risk of disasters is one of the priorities for the developing nations that are most vulnerable to natural events.
She explained that Cuba has taken its experience to other nations in the region but there is a long path still ahead in the consolidation of a platform for the reduction of disasters and which is to be discussed in the Wednesday meeting in Havana.
The Cuban expert added that among the region’s priorities is the strengthening of early warnings in the case of meteorological situations, droughts, tsunamis, earthquake among others.
The 1st Cooperation Conference will be an opportunity to promote cooperation and economic competitiveness in the region and push forward actions to strengthen collective capacities in important sectors like tourism, transportation and relieve the effects of climate change.
According to recent statements by Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra, they have been able to collect money aimed at executing some of the projects associated to the management of exotic invading marine species.
He added that over one hundred participants, representing 25 AEC member states and 8 observers will participate in the cooperation conference in addition to programs, UN agencies and funds and regional financial institutions. / ACN