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Sustainable Development in the Maya World
Fourth Belize-Mexico Binational Seminar
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 goals with 169 targets, that all countries, inclusive of Belize, unanimously agreed would shift the world onto a sustainable path of development. Central to this agenda is the promotion of “sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protecting and managing the natural resources based on environmental, economic and social development.” The University of Belize (UB), as the country’s national university and as elucidated in its mission and objectives, has the responsibility to advance the discourse of sustainable development within the Belizean development space and to connect and coordinate same across government, civil society and local communities.
It was in this vein the Bi-national Seminar was launched; and on October 3rd – 5th, 2018, the University of Belize hosted and participated in its 4th Annual Bi-national Seminar.
The Bi-national Seminar is an annual event that commenced in 2014 as an initiative between the University of Belize and the Embassy of Mexico in Belize with the purpose of enhancing academic cooperation between Belize and Mexico through the sharing of knowledge on current academic projects and activities. It is a joint effort that has promoted dialogue and collaboration between institutions on both sides of the border.
This year’s seminar, held under the theme Sustainable Development in the Maya World, brought to the forefront discussions on common interests and shared practices aimed at ensuring a sustainable future. The findings provided critical knowledge on contemporary issues in sustainable development for academia and significantly strengthened the research and learning capacity of the participating Universities.
The Binational Seminar opened with representatives from the four member universities and the Embassy of Mexico in Belize, each citing the importance of sustainability to national development in their welcome remarks. While, the Chairman of UB’s Board of Trustees, Mr. Harrison Pilgrim, positioned research as central to the role of universities, particularly as it relates to the same being the foundation upon which innovative legislation and effective policies and programs are built. Mr. Jose Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Immigration, spoke specifically on the importance of environmental sustainability as the key to Belize’s developmental success and thanked Mexico for their support in this endeavor. Ambassador of Mexico, H.E. Carlos Quesnel, who has been key to the success of these seminars, thanked the Universities for the efforts to make the seminar possible. The Keynote Addresses for this year’s seminar were delivered by the Founder & Chairperson of Belize Natural Energy, Susan Morrice, and the Director General of El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) Dr. Mario González Espinosa.
Mexican presenters included professionals and researchers from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), Universidad Anahuac del Mayab (UAM), Universidad de Quintana Roo (UQROO) and Universidad Juarez Autonoma de Tabasco (UJAT). While, Belize was represented by experts and scientists from the University of Belize (UB), Oceana, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), Belize Natural Energy (BNE), the United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The seminar offered salient perspectives, frank exchanges and collaborative discussions on issues such as water resource management, marine life, the green economy, environmental protection and management, climate change, forest resource management, energy, tourism, entrepreneurship and wealth creation and technology among others were discussed in great details and were sighted as fundamental to the achievement of the sustainable development agenda. However, the key messages emerging from this three-day seminar can be summed up in the following:
• The intrinsic and inter-dependent relationship between the environment, economics and people must be fully embraced in the development process
• Sustainable development must include everyone in governing process and must ensure that everyone has access to resources
• The water-food-energy nexus is an important issue to be addressed in a holistic manner
• Sustainable development supports business and job creation
• Innovating, developing and sharing knowledge, and improving and disseminating tools and technologies are critical to achieving the sustainable development agenda
More importantly, though, despite the various topics covered in the thirty (30) presentations, the central theme which underlined each presentation was twofold. If left unmitigated, environmental degradation will undermine gains we have achieved thus far; and equally, that sustained and inclusive economic progress will underpin sustainable management of our countries’ natural resources and ecosystems.
The seminar concluded with the Vice President of UB, Dr. Mariot Simon, noting the importance of the seminar in strengthening academic ties between Mexico and Belize, networking between the universities, as well as at individual levels to ensure a wider outreach of knowledge to further increase our pace of development. He closed the seminar by reminding participants, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from future generations.”
For the complete record of and access to all presentations, please visit https://www.ub.edu.bz/about-ub/leadership-and-governance/administrative-and-academic-leadership/office-of-the-president/fourth-bi-national-seminar-mexico-belize-on-sustainable-development-in-the-maya-world/.