New Partnership To Address Coastal
Management Issues In Mexico
By David Bauman
cientists from UConn and the Universidad Aut—noma de Baja California (UABC) have been selected to participate in the first round of higher education partnerships under a new U.S.-Mexico program.
The program was launched last summer by U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox to promote private sector growth in Mexico.
Additionally, scientists from UConn's departments of marine sciences and civil and environmental engineering, together with colleagues from the National Undersea Research Center and Connecticut Sea Grant program located at the Avery Point campus, will conduct environmental research projects with their Mexican counterparts at UABC. The research will focus on the Tijuana-Ensenada Corridor, which lies just south of San Diego, along the coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
The grant, to be distributed through the Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships program developed by the U.S. Agency for International Development as a component of the larger presidential Partnership for Prosperity program, is designed to promote collaboration to find mutual solutions to common problems between the two countries.
Research and Policy-Making
"Developing human resources in coastal management and marine sciences education to find permanent solutions to the environmental problems in the Tijuana-Ensenada Corridor placed your proposal among the most outstanding of those submitted," wrote Jeffrey Davidow, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, one of the proposal evaluators.
The UConn-UABC proposal responds to a growing crisis in the Tijuana-Ensenada Corridor, says Boris Bravo-Ureta, executive director of UConn's Office of International Affairs and professor of agricultural economics, who was the principal architect of the partnership.
The idea behind Escalera Nautica is to help save the region's fragile environment through planned growth, explains Bravo-Ureta.
The Tijuana-Ensenada Corridor is located in the first "step" of the staircase, he notes. The rapid growth of tourism, aquaculture, and manufacturing has placed the region under severe environmental stress, polluting coastal waters, depleting fish stocks, and forcing peasant farmers off the land.
Nonetheless, the livelihood of the population of this coastal region increasingly depends on these new industries, which can either develop in mutually sustaining and beneficial ways or contribute to the decline of the region and its economy, he adds.
Meeting the Challenge
Notes Bravo-Ureta, "The opportunity to create a partnership between UConn and UABC and develop a multidisciplinary team to take on the challenge of coastal management is very exciting and will be a significant addition to the educational and research components of both universities in the environmental field."