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Floods along Havana's coastline addressed with coordination and integrated action
 
    
© UNESCO Havana/E. Suárez. Dr Maritza García takes the floor. She is accompanied in the Chair (from right to left) by Ms Consuelo Vidal, Ms Katherine Muller-Marin, Ambassador Alexandra Valkenbur and Fermín Sarduy.
Closing session of the workshop “Flood Risk Prevention in Havana”: Towards the design of integrated solutions to reduce this climate change consequence

15 February 2019/ UNESCO Havana/Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

In her closing words on 13 February, Dr Maritza García, President of Cuba’s Environmental Agency (AMA), expressed great satisfaction with the results of the workshop “Flood Risk Prevention in Havana”. Attending the ceremony were the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Cuba, Consuelo Vidal, the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, Katherine Muller-Marin, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cuba, H.E. Ms Alexandra Valkenburg, and the Director of International Relations and Foreign Trade of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), Fermín E. Sarduy, MSc.

AMA’s Director asserted that the teamwork, the discussions and assessments made during the workgroup sessions made it possible to achieve, in a highly positive manner, the workshop’s main objective. In this respect, she added, the exchange of experiences with the visiting Dutch experts, as well as with the increasing number of participating national institutions, played a key role.

She stressed, “Integration is a must, especially in our work with the communities, with the population, which requires integrated action.” She further highlighted the importance of continuity. “This exercise should be followed by a project that will guarantee its real sustainability, that will use each resource to solve in the short-, medium- and long-term the prevention of this climate change consequence, something with which we must learn to live.”

During the workshop, held in Havana on 12 and 13 February, specialists from the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA), the Master Plan of the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana and the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources provided ample information on the implementation of the State Plan to Address Climate Change of the Republic of Cuba (Tarea Vida).

Likewise, the representatives of the Dutch Risk Reduction (DDR) team and the Institute for Water Education (IHE) of the Netherlands shared the results of the studies they have conducted in Cuba on flood disaster risk.

Another decisive factor turned out to be the participatory exercises on the five fundamental guidelines for identifying the measures to be taken, namely: measures aimed at designing integrated solutions to guarantee drainage and at implementing short-term low-cost projects in Havana’s coastal area; capacity building and technology transfer in order to model scenarios in case of flooding and risk assessment; prioritizing climate change adaptation and vulnerability reduction measures; integration of engineering and natural solutions in sectoral and territorial development plans; and efficient inter-institutional coordination and communication.

Worthy of note were the coincidence and consensus existing among the institutions that take part in the protection of Havana’s Malecón on the actions to be prioritized to prevent floods, not only in the area of the Historic Centre, but also along the capital’s coastline. In particular, the need to strengthen the coordination between them in order to achieve an effective integrated approach was laid in evidence.

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