On November 17, 2021, an important meeting that had been postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality: the National Workshop on Cuban Biosphere Reserves, which brought together in Havana, in person and virtually, managers of six biosphere reserves in the country.
Since the official visit to Cuba by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, in December 2019, it had been agreed to hold this event, under the auspices of this organization. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), its Environment Agency (AMA), as well as the Cuban National Commission for UNESCO (CNCU) and the Regional Office of UNESCO for Culture in America Latin America and the Caribbean, it was possible to materialize this important meeting, in a very specific context: the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the “Man and the Biosphere” Program (MaB ), as Tatiana Villegas, Head of the UNESCO Office, recalled in her introductory remarks, also stressing that:
The meeting also took place in the framework of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of UNESCO and was held on the day when the CNCU reached the 74th anniversary of its establishment, a happy coincidence mentioned in her remarks by the Secretary General. Commission, Ambassador Dulce María Buergo, who underlined the importance of the MaB program as one of the most significant responses to the impact of climate change, due to the invaluable volume of natural resources that these reserves possess and that, if it is possible to interact with them in a beneficial way, they can contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets.
In his greeting to the meeting, the Deputy Minister of CITMA, Adianez Taboada Zamora, reiterated the commitment of this institution to continue working to integrate all sectors of Cuban society in the protection of biodiversity and the environment.
Serena Heckler, Regional Specialist in the Ecological and Earth Sciences Program, Man and Biosphere Program Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, at the UNESCO Regional Office for Science in the region, also participated in the event virtually from Montevideo.
WADA President Dr Maritza García García, host of the event, introduced the members of the Cuban Committee of the MaB, some of them with more than 30 years of work, such as Dr Avelino Suárez, its secretary Executive, and Dr Grisel Acosta, also an active member of the Committee.
Likewise, Dr García also highlighted the work of Frank Ortiz, specialist in the scientific program of the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture until his retirement, to whom she gave special recognition.
Dr García presented a detailed report on the actions developed by the Cuban National Committee of the MaB Program since 2019 and outlined the main challenges facing the Committee, among which the analysis of new biosphere reserves that could be proposed; continue to work with communities in biosphere reserves and integrate risk management and disaster reduction for adaptation to climate change; integrate new generations into the work of biosphere reserves; and realize the role of biosphere reserves in achieving the SDGs.
Each coordinator of Biosphere Reserves in Cuba made a presentation, including three in person: Biosphere Reserves of the Guanahacabibes Peninsula (Province of Pinar del Río), Sierra del Rosario (Province of Artemisa) and Ciénaga de Zapata (Province of Matanzas):