National Press Club

Future of Cuba’s Environment and Environmental Film Festival in DC

March 10, 2015 | By Michael Balli |

Marine biologist Dr. David Guggenheim unveiled a plan to use Cuba’s coral reefs as a living laboratory and create a blueprint for how to protect coral reefs in the rest of the Caribbean at a National Press Club Newsmaker program on March 10.

His remarks were part of a preview of the 2015 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. Guggenheim, president of the nonprofit Ocean Doctor, who has visited Cuba for 15 years, discussed how Cuba’s isolation –- and its strong environmental laws -- have protected its environment for the past half century. He also outlined the challenges of potential future development to the island nation’s environment, noting that the rest of the Caribbean has experienced a 50 percent decline in its coral reefs since 1970, in contrast to Cuba’s vibrant and healthy reefs. He proposed creating a new model for tourism development that would place economic value on natural resources and inspire Cubans to protect their environment. Recognizing the value of film to inspire environmental protection, Guggenheim announced that Cuba plans to present its first Environmental Film Festival next year.

Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital Founder Flo Stone and Executive Director Stephanie Flack, provided a clip-illustrated preview of the upcoming festival, which will present more than 160 films across Washington March 17-29. A selection of films will explore Climate Connections, the impact of climate change on our world, as well as endangered wildlife, water and food security, energy, sustainable living, and built and created environments.

Highlighted films included "Monsoon," capturing the vital importance of the annual rains in India, and winner of the Festival’s Polly Krakora Award for Artistry in Film; "Tiger Tiger," spotlighting the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger on the border of India and Bangladesh, winner of the William W. Warner Beautiful Swimmers Award and "Racing Extinction," winner of the Festival’s Documentary Award for Environmental Advocacy, calling attention to the shocking loss of biodiversity and threatened global mass extinction of animal species.

The Environmental Film Festival, the largest and longest running environmental film festival in the country and the largest film festival in Washington takes place at more than 55 venues across the city, including museums, embassies, universities, libraries and theaters. Most screenings include discussion with filmmakers, environmental experts and special guests and many are free. The complete schedule is available on the EFF website,