Did you know that Cozumel was identified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO last year?
This was due to its large number of species and plants endemic to the island, meaning they are found nowhere else on earth. A significant portion of the proposed biosphere reserve was the marine ecosystem which forms part of the second-largest reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef. Cozumel biosphere reserve is now ready for ecological science projects for sustainable development.
Alejandra Tellez is a sustainable development consultant from Monterrey in the north of Mexico. She has worked for various organizations, such as the United Nations, Mexican Councils (consejos mexicanos), and local governments. She decided to stay in Cozumel and give all her energy and knowledge to support a local community project, called Nuup Eek’, meaning connect the stars together in Mayan.
The Playa Times: Could you please explain to us what the Nuup Eek’ project is about?
Alejandra Tellez: Nuup Eek’ is a pilot project for community conservation and sustainable development in Cozumel. At the beginning, it was about ecotourism, but we are now going further, learning about sustainable development technology. A few weeks ago, we received funding to organize organic agriculture workshops. Soon we hope to learn about earth building, with an intensive workshop covering the basics of bamboo construction and introducing us to a number of innovative earth materials for use in construction.
Local communities should understand that they can utilize their environmental resources as sustainable sources of income and empowerment. It is possible to reduce poverty through conservation and sustainability. Using biodiversity and employing solutions such as energy efﬁciency; renewable energies; bioclimatic design and passive solar systems; low environmental impact materials; site selection; and water management and reuse, encourages social welfare, among other principles.
Environmental education teaches individuals how to weigh various sides of an issue through critical thinking and it enhances problem-solving and decision-making skills. At the same time, they must take into account environmental, social, economic and cultural aspects in construction projects. This will be the first sustainable community in Cozumel, focused on environmental conservation. I hope in the future many other communities will follow their example.
The Nuup Eek´ project is a beautiful initiative which needs a lot of support and funding to survive. Feel free to contact Alejandra if you are interested in participating, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Facebook/Nuup Eek’.