The Director of the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI), Dr Paul Brickle, visited Guatemala last week.
The aim of the visit was to share scientific experiences and develop potential projects that could enhance the country’s management of its marine coastal resources.
SAERI is based in the Falkland Islands and partially funded by its Government. It aims to conduct world class research, teach students, and build capacity within and between the UK South Atlantic Overseas Territories (UK OTs) and other countries looking to further develop their scientific skills.
In his one-day visit, Dr Brickle met with the Ambassador for Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rita Mishaan; the Director of the Centre for Ocean Studies at Guatemala’s National University (CEMA), Dr Lorena Boix and her staff; the Director of the Private Institute for the Investigation on Climate Change (ICC), Dr Alex Guerra; the Director of Hydrography and Oceanography at the Guatemalan Navy, Hugo Recinos; and paid a visit to the largest forestry conservation park in the city run by the Foundation for Eco Development and Conservation (FUNDAECO) and its Director, Marco Cerezo.
During his visit, Dr Brickle received an update on the country’s main challenges to preserve and further develop its marine costal resources. The need to improve the conditions of artisanal fishery on Guatemala’s Pacific coast and develop a database of the marine species in the area were the main areas of discussion. Like Guatemala, the Falklands are particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change, and both countries will explore the possibility to implement medium and long term strategies to preserve the environment and encourage economic development.
As for next steps, Dr Brickle will consult with SAERI and other partners in the UK, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to agree the best way forward in Guatemala, which in consultation with local stakeholders, could initially cover the main concerns raised during his visit. This could include a follow-up technical mission that will collect essential information in regard to the prioritised topics.
To mark his first visit to the country, Dr Paul Brickle said:
I was impressed by the richness of Guatemala’s biodiversity and the excellent work local organisations are undertaking to address many of the country’s marine challenges. I look forward to provide SAERI’s expertise into further developing a strategy that could bolster scientific knowledge and economic growth.
The British Ambassador to Guatemala, Thomas Carter, said:
Dr Brickle’s visit to Guatemala set a milestone in the relationship between the Falklands and Guatemala, and is an example of how bridges of collaboration can be built across Latin America. The UK will always support the Falklands right of self determination in an environment of peace and cordiality between its natural neighbours.