Rosa Elena Simeón Negrín was born in Bejucal, Cuba, a small town south of Havana, on June 17, 1943. She earned a doctoral degree in medicine and veterinary sciences at the University of Havana, she a senior researcher and senior professor at the Higher Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Havana. From the beginning of her career, her work has been has been focused on scientific and technical research, for which she has received numerous recognitions and awards. During the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Simeón Negrín worked as an expert in virology for the FAO. She was also president of the Cuba Academy of Sciences from 1985 to 1994.
In 1986 she was named Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment by the Cuban government, a post she held until her death in 2004. Her leadership of the environmental ministry coincided with a time when environmental issues became more prominent and began to be taken into consideration by government officials and international organizations. She was able to successfully implement many sustainable development practices in her country. Dr. Simeón Negrín was also known on the international level and represented Cuba at the World Summit on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (better known as the Earth Summit) in 1992, and two years later at the United Nations Summit on Small Island Nations in Barbados. Under her leadership, the ninth Forum of Latin American and Caribbean Environment Ministers was organized and took place in Cuba in 1995. This event marked a significant change by promoting the incorporation of methodologies developed by the United Nations Environmental Program to address the region’s environmental problems. In August of 2002, she led the Cuban delegation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Simeón Negrín always adhered to a clear vision and understanding of the concept of “think globally and act locally” by staying active in the environmental issues of her country while also playing a key role in negotiations about environmental issues at a worldwide level.
She was also a member of scientific societies in various countries, such as the Mexico Academy of Sciences and the Prince Leopold Microbiology Society in Belgium. Simeón Negrín represented her country and actively participated in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, a document that proposed implementation of measures agreed to in the United Nations Convention on Climate Change. In 2000, she was elected as a member of the United Nations Environmental Program Administrative Council, an organization that posthumously awarded her the Champions of the Earth prize in 2006. This prize recognized Rosa Elena’s work and “her passion for the environment,” calling her a “brilliant example for the entire world.” The Cuban doctor and environmental leader died at age 61 in Havana on October 22, 2004.
Author: Harrison Flores Ortiz
Published: June 06, 2012.
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