Posted on April 18, 2019 by David B. Farer
For the past three years, the Cuba Working Group of the ACOEL International Pro Bono Committee has been making concerted efforts to establish a formal relationship with a Cuban entity that will allow Fellows of the College to engage in pro bono activities to assist the Cuban people in addressing particular environmental concerns and issues.
We are pleased to announce that the College has now entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the largest environmental foundation in Cuba, the Foundation Antonio Nunez Jimenez of Nature and Humanity.
Figure 1- Signing of the MOU between ACOEL and FANJ, February 14,2019 by Foundation President Liliana Nunez Velis and ACOEL Fellow David Farer
The MOU was signed at a formal ceremony at the offices of the Foundation in Havana on February 14, 2019. Liliana Nunez Velis, President of the Foundation and daughter of founder Antonio Nunez Jimenez, signed for the Foundation. I was there on behalf of the College with delegation of authority from ACOEL President Allan Gates.
Figure 2 – Handshake after the MOU signing: Nunez Velis and Farer
Meetings ensued with senior foundation staff on developing ideas for initial collaborations. We will be communicating with ACOEL Fellows further once the topics are set and we are prepared to solicit interest for participation.
We also met with the environmental law faculty of the University of Havana, with whom we also had discussions and with whom we hope to proceed on collaborative projects in the future.
Figure 3 – Environmental Law faculty at the Univ. of Havana, with ACOEL Fellow David Farer and his wife Elisa King, in front of the Alma Mater statue on the stairway entrance to the University
The Foundation — also known as FANJ — is a non-governmental institution engaged in research and advancement of environmental projects and programs from both scientific and cultural perspectives. They have described their mission as that of creating a culture of nature, seeking harmony between society and the environment.
Our efforts to establish such a relationship began with an initial delegation to Havana in September 2016. This led to an invitation to submit a paper for consideration in preparation for the XI International Convention on Environment & Development, in Havana. Mary Ellen Ternes and I submitted a paper, Lessons Learned: Effective Environmental Regulation of Critical Infrastructure Development & Operation. It was accepted, and Mary Ellen and I presented it at the July 2017 convention in Havana. Our paper on the topic was also published in the proceedings of the convention.
Subsequent communications ensued, and then recent discussions in both New York City and Havana led to development of the MOU with FANJ and the recent agreement on its terms.
As the MOU recites, ACOEL and FANJ are looking forward to separately engaged ACOEL Fellows working with FANJ representatives to explore the contributions that each organization’s Fellows and representatives can make to the other, including development of training on specific topics in environmental law, participation in events and advice on capacity building, and in sharing the knowledge and experience of the representatives and Fellows of the two organizations.