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JICA Training Course “Environmental Management in the Republic of Cuba”
- Interview with Ms. Edinia Acosta Izquierdo -

Course name: Environmental Management in the Republic of Cuba
Course duration: 20 February to 17 March 2006

Although this interview has been partially edited, all efforts have been made to ensure its faithful reproduction. As such, please note that the statements contained therein may contain factual discrepancies.

● Ms. Edinia Acosta Izquierdo, Environmental Specialist of the Environment Territorial Delegation in the Villa Clara Province

 We would like to know about your province.

Ms. Izquierdo:
 Villa Clara is the 5th biggest province in my country. My province has a population of 839,087 and a land area of 8662.4 square kilometers. There are 13 municipalities in my province and 76% of the province is urbanized.
 We have different ecosystems in my province such as mountain ecosystem and marine ecosystem. There are many small islands in the north of the province. It is very natural, beautiful and rich in biodiversity, especially endemic biodiversity. Mountains also have rich biodiversity. My province is very rich in nature and natural resources.

 How about industry conditions in your province?

Ms. Izquierdo:
 We have metallurgic industry, especially melting heavy metal such as steel and aluminum. And in the process of melting aluminum, smoke containing high Pb is being emitted. As for leather processing, we use chromium in the process of tanning a hide into leather.
 We produce chlorine with mercury technology at the only one factory in my country, so it produces residual water containing mercury. And we also have sludge containing mainly heavy metal, and the sludge is being safely stored in a place, but there are no more places to put these in. That is why we are trying to get new technology. This is a crucial problem.
 We also have a food processing industry, like fish, meal and fruit. We have rum distillation and production plants. We make rum from sugar cane, so we have residual waste, mainly residual water with very high BOD in the process of its distillation. We use this residual water to produce biogas, but BOD at the end of this process is very high, and there is not a proper treatment at the end. The problem is that this plant is very close to the sea and small islands of the north. This marine ecosystem is very fragile and endemic. It is very dangerous to affect the sea and the coast by this production of rum. We also have acetylene production with an old technology.

 Please tell us about the most serious environmental problem in your city and your country.

Ms. Izquierdo:
 The main Environmental Problems in my city and in my country are:
 • Degradation of soils.
 • Deforestation.
 • Lost of biodiversity.
 • Contamination of the underwater, superficial and marine water.
 • Atmospheric contamination.
 • Environmental communities problems. (treatment of residual water and solid wastes)
 • Handle of hazardous wastes and chemical products.

 Are there any efforts toward those problems at a national level and a municipality level?

Ms. Izquierdo:
 In the solutions of these problems there are many national and municipalities actions, the necessary inversions are organized according to priorities given by expert groups, so the governments also participate and support the future projects.

 Please tell us about your current job. Are there any difficulties in performing your work?

Ms. Izquierdo:
 I work as Environmental Specialist in the Delegation of Science Technology and Environment in Villa Clara. I am planning a doctoral degree in environmental solutions. We have difficulties with the equipments for monitoring the atmospheric emissions and the industrial and domestic residual waters.

 Do you know anything about environmental education for children in your country?

Ms. Izquierdo:
 There are a lot of environmental educations for children in our country. We have a Net for Environmental Educations that cover all the educational levels. We also have TV and radio programs, cultural activities, etc.

 Which lecture or observation was the most useful for you so far? Do you think that you can utilize the abilities acquired through this course after going back to your country? Are there any other lectures that you would like to take in the future?

Ms. Izquierdo:
 There have been many useful conferences; the most interesting for me was Risk Assessments in the UNU.
 I think we can do a lot in our country with the knowledge acquired training other specialists, in the assessor of factories with atmospheric emissions and in the government’s take of decisions.
 In the future I will like to receive other lectures like managements of solids wastes, residual water treatments, Environmental Management System according to ISO 14000, protection of the ozone layer and practices of clean production.

 What do you think of Japan’s efforts toward environment? Are there any big differences in approaches between Japan and your country? What is your impression of Japan?

Ms. Izquierdo:
 I think Japan is doing a lot to protect the environments with a worldwide conception, taking in count all the environmental problems that are affecting our planet. The collaboration with the developing countries is something to admire, because we do need the knowledge and technology for the solutions of our problems and also the trainers establish a mutual connection that will join us to solve the problems. I think Japan is an example saying a better world is possible.
 My impression of Japan is that you are a very working, organize and discipline people, very reflective, always looking for a better way to do it.

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