Progress and nature conservation are two of the most urgent issues on the agenda of the human species, since giving up one in favor of the other is a sure recipe for disaster; the great challenge is to harmonize both tasks in order to save the very existence of the planet.
Ecovalor is the name given to one of the international initiatives seeking to incorporate environmental considerations and their economic implications into the management of landscapes, forests and productive sectors, with several intervention sites in Cuba.
The western province of Matanzas is the only one in Cuba to be fully included. The purpose is to generate multiple global environmental benefits based on the economic valuation of ecosystemic goods and services. Ecovalor’s local field of action covers such famous sites as Varadero,
Cuba's main sun and beach resort, and the Zapata Swamp, the largest and best-preserved wetland in the Caribbean islands.
However marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2020 was also a fruitful stage for this project, which addresses topics such as training, gender approach, communication and economic and financial instruments in the province.
According to project coordinator Nelvis Gómez, the results include a study of the regulation service of Matanzas Bay, the estimation of taxes on its use, and the identification of goods and services from ecosystems classified as Protected Areas.
Bringing down barriers is also part of Ecovalor's mission, hence the educational activities involving those who live in the Zapata Swamp and the emphasis on the discussion of the gender perspective in favor of building an increasingly inclusive society.
The tourist sector also participates with exercises to implement the methodology to grant the award Playa Ambiental (Environmental Beach) in recognition of proper environmental management systems.
Beyond its environmental values, Ecovalor provides opportunities for a more comprehensive approach to activities such as fishing, the oil industry and agriculture, among others equally essential to the development of Cuba's socioeconomic model.