World Environment Day 2001
Message from Cuba

Rosa Elena Simeón Negrin

Cuba’s designation by UNEP as one of the two venues for the international celebrations of this year’s World Environment Day has been welcomed with great enthusiasm and a high sense of commitment by our country. We appreciate that this decision is a recognition of the efforts of the Cuban people and Government – and of all organizations and companies in the country – in the serious and determined pursuit of sustainable development.

In Cuba we have celebrated World Environment Day on 5 June since 1979 and, since 1996, a friendly rivalry has grown up among the country’s 14 provinces to achieve the best results in implementing their environmental strategies. Institutions, companies, communities and civil society in general are all actively involved in this competition, headed by local government bodies. This year we salute World Environment Day with over 60 national actions and 740 local activities, some of which were set in motion as long ago as January.

Cuba’s most important resource is its people and the promotion of their intelligence: their development has enabled us to achieve positive indicators of environmental sustainability and quality of life and encourages us to continue fighting for their further improvement. We are progressing appreciably in promoting health, education, sports, culture and an equitable distribution of wealth. We are successfully fighting to preserve our natural resources and to enhance our environmental culture by improving our social and institutional capacity to face environmental challenges.

Cuba is conserving its biodiversity through the national system of protected areas; we are developing sustainable agriculture and integrated watershed management; we are promoting renewable energy sources; and we are developing cleaner production, the recovery of raw materials and the lowering of ecological vulnerability by reducing pollution. We have increased our sanitation and drinking water coverage so that it now reaches almost our entire population, both urban and rural. We halted our forest loss 35 years ago, and now forests cover 21.1 per cent of the country. And we are enforcing all the commitments we have made through various multilateral environmental agreements. Yet we believe that we can and must achieve much more.

In spite of being subjected to an economic, commercial and financial blockade, we share our modest resources with other peoples, promoting international cooperation between developing countries, and providing free training to the doctors and sports teachers of the future, among other specialized professions.

We have a permanent policy of opportunities for exchange of experiences, through multiple national and international events, thus contributing to the discussion and evolution of issues related to sustainable development.

The celebration of World Environment Day in Cuba is a catalytic event. It will contribute to consolidating our environmental policy and management, and to increasing public awareness to promote integrated action among every element of our society so as to achieve ever higher targets in our goal of sustainable development

Dr. Rosa Elena Simeón Negrin is Minister for Science, Technology and Environment of Cuba.

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Driving change | Clearing the bottlenecks | Commuting sustainably (Singapore) | Transported to the future (Curitiba, Brazil) | Bucking the trend (Freiburg, Germany) | Message from the UN Secretary-General | Message from Cuba | Message from Turin | Competition | Breaking free | Calling for change | Reaching the unreached | Greening the screen | Taking the lead | Wanted: more good reporters | On the dot | The city century

Complementary articles in other issues:
Thomas Lovejoy: Tall treees and bottom lines (Biological Diversity) 2000
GEF: Helping small island developing states (Small islands) 1999