Youth from Central America and the Caribbean are trained on climate change and marine biodiversity
At the initiative of the World Heritage Educational Program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the cooperation of MarViva Foundation -based at the City of Knowledge- and the collaboration of the Ministry of Environment (MIAMBIENTE) and the University of Panama Regional Center of Veraguas (UP-CRUV), young people between 20 and 30 years from Central America and the Caribbean, were trained and sensitized on the issue of climate change and its impact on biodiversity and marine sustainability.
Ines Yousfi, coordinator of the initiative by the UNESCO, said that "the goal is to establish strong links between the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean and Central American countries, by empowering participants and organizations they represent through a regional project on marine biodiversity and climate change, as well as raising their capacity to implement conservation projects in World Heritage sites."
The activities were conducted between Monday 25 and Friday 29 of January, with the following countries being represented: St. Lucia, Dominica, El Salvador, Suriname, Barbados, Costa Rica, Cuba, Belize, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Panama.
Juan M. Posada, Science Manager at MarViva Foundation, considers that it has been "a privilege to have been selected by UNESCO for this important responsibility, as is the promotion of the involvement and consolidation of young people already active in biodiversity issues and climate change, so that they can take leadership roles in these issues when they return to their countries of origin."
Teachers Ángel Javier Vega and Evidelio Adames from the UP-CRUV, as well as Eric Flores, Joelbin De La Cruz and Mirta Benítez of MIAMBIENTE, accompanied Juan M. Posada and Antonio Clemente from MarViva in various talks on different topics ranging from governance, fisheries, programs and activities of the park and biodiversity in Coiba, to national climate change strategy. Also, the young people had the opportunity to explain the work being done in their respective countries and their active participation in practices dedicated to documenting the variety of flora and fauna present in such an important protected area, National Park and World Heritage Site since 2004 and 2005 respectively. In Santiago, the group was welcomed by Rogelio Rodríguez Sclopis, Regional Director of the Ministry of Environment in the province of Veraguas.
Joelbin de la Cruz, head of the protected area, accompanied the young people with his staff through the terrestrial and marine journeys made, manifesting interest "in the support and benefits that the results of this activity may have in connection with the performance of some referred objectives of the Management Plan of the Park, such as education, the promotion of scientific research and conservation of biodiversity".
Individually, the young people returned to their homes with more information on the benefits of biodiversity and the threats it faces when a sustainable use of natural resources is not carried out, the impacts suffered by the environment due to climate change, the effects of human activity on the conservation of landmarks and World Heritage Sites, and the mechanisms for adaptation to climate change and conservation of marine and coastal areas.
Considering that participating countries face the same problems in environmental matters, and they also have complementary strengths, such initiatives result in strengthening of personal and institutional networks, which ultimately should lead to the anticipated benefits: resilient ecosystems, better informed communities and sustainability in the use of resources.
Editor's Note: The Coiba National Park was created by Resolution in 1991, and declared under the law in 2004 and was registered as a Site of World Natural Heritage in 2005, due to the unique values of marine and terrestrial biodiversity it has. Coiba Island, the largest in the Central Pacific, is part of a marine corridor involving other World Heritage sites such as Galapagos, Cocos, Malpelo and Gorgona.