Academic journal article Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Disasters: Puerto Rico, Hurricanes, Humanity, and Hope

Academic journal article Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Disasters: Puerto Rico, Hurricanes, Humanity, and Hope

Article excerpt

Editors' Introduction

This Reflection is the Intervention Professor Figueroa delivered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City commemorating the 3rd International Day of Women and Girls in Science, under the lead of the Government of the Republic of Malta and the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica, Hungary, and Vietnam to the United Nations, which organized a two-day forum from 7 to 8 February 2018, focusing on "Equality and Parity in Science for Peace and Development."

Co-sponsors of the commemoration were the Permanent Representations of Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Cyprus, Georgia, Paraguay, Portugal, Rwanda, San Marino, and Thailand Missions to the United Nations as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Following is the text of the Intervention she delivered at the 2018 International Day of Women and Girls in Science Forum 's "High-Level Panel on Equality and Parity in Economic Empowerment: Multi-stakeholder Engagement." A video of the Intervention is available here

Message

Do you remember what you were doing on September 19, 2017?

I was teaching an Organic Chemistry Lab course in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I told my students to keep their phones on and let me know when the next weather report was going live.

Category 5 Hurricane Maria hasn't changed course. It will make landfall in the southeast of the island in less than 24 hours.

I panicked. We must get wooden panels or something to cover the windows and doors.

September 20: I woke up by the sound of a metal pipe hitting the street outside. The wooden panels were blown away, water started getting inside the house... so everyone, let's move to the closet.

September 21: It's time to go outside and see what happened. It's time to work. I saw cement poles on the ground covering the main avenue near my house. I saw houses without roofs. I saw debris where there used to be a house. I still see too many tarps as roofs. I saw an unmeasurable number of fallen trees, but I didn't see any leaves. Everything looked burnt. Puerto Rico is now the country with no leaves.

I saw desperation, I saw compassion, I saw tiredness, but I also saw humanity. Incredibly, I saw positivity. I saw strength.

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated our rainforest and our coffee plantations, I volunteered with WaterStep443 to bring their systems to the most affected areas in the island. Now, we are giving their systems to every municipality in the country, 78 in total, so everyone can have access to safe water. We have also given these systems to clinics and other medical institutions. …

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