News Releases

The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development

For Release Upon Receipt - January 21, 2020


The historic moment finally arrived on December 11, 2019, when The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and the University of Havana (UH) signed an agreement to establish a new and innovative, joint Centre for the Sustainable Development of the Caribbean. For some 30 years, the two universities collaborated on the margins of their respective mandates, occasionally exchanging students and promoting collaborative research projects in areas of mutual interests.

“But the time came”, said Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, “to elevate these relationships to the highest possible professional level, by creating the institutional context for formal, top quality research collaboration to promote the sustainable, economic and cultural development of the people of the Caribbean.” He explained that driving the diplomatic initiative to deepen the bond between the people of CARICOM and Cuba through the research of their respective universities, was a top priority of his administration, and the considerable time invested in securing the agreement “was an honour and pleasure.”

The agreement was struck when President of the University of Havana, Professor Miriam Nicado García, a distinguished Mathematician, and the first Afro-Cuban to head the 200-year-old university, hosted Vice-Chancellor Beckles and his UWI team in Havana, Cuba. That team included Ambassador Gillian Bristol, Director of The UWI’s Latin American–Caribbean Centre (LACC), who was key in developing the project. Together, The UWI and UH conceptualised, coordinated and finalised the operations of the joint research centre, whose mandate is to promote innovation and scientific application in three broad areas of regional development — application of medical research and innovations in critical areas of public health, such as diabetic foot amputation, invasive eye treatment, and cancer studies; scientific research into Caribbean natural products, and the industrialisation of research findings; and promotion of Caribbean culture and tourism, social justice issues, and commercial development in the area of cultural industries.

These three broad pillars of collective engagement, President Nicado García noted, “will integrate research, scholarship, and strategic planning for transformational development that will benefit CARICOM and Cuba, while expanding the important role to be played by universities in the sustainable growth of the region.”

Vice-Chancellor Beckles conveyed his gratitude to Ambassador Bristol for her leadership on The UWI’s behalf. He commended President Nicado García, for the excellent physical facilities made available to The UWI-UH Centre within the historic campus of the University of Havana, adding that researchers and scholars at The UWI would be excited and stimulated to make full use of them.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal of The UWI, Mona Campus, Professor Dale Webber indicated his delight to have—within The UWI system—the joint Centre based at the Mona campus and placed under the guidance of two of its distinguished scholars: Professor Michael Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, and Dr Tomlin Paul, Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences.




Notes to the Editor


High resolution photos available at


Photo Captions:

3587: From Left: Dr. Antonio Romero, President, Caribbean Studies Chair “Norman Girvan”, University of Havana; Dra Miriam Alpizar Santana, Vice-Minister of Higher Education; Dr. Miriam Nicado Garcia, Rector, University of Havana; Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies; Ambassador Gillian Bristol, Director, The UWI Latin American-Caribbean Centre and Dr. Dionisio Zaldivar Silva, First Vice-Rector, University of Havana.

3605: Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies and Dr. Miriam Nicado Garcia, Rector, University of Havana.

3631: From Left: Ambassador Gillian Bristol, Director, The UWI Latin American-Caribbean Centre; Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies; Dr. Miriam Nicado Garcia, Rector, University of Havana; and Dr. Dionisio Zaldivar Silva, First Vice-Rector, University of Havana.


About the University of Havana

Established in 1728, the University of Havana is the largest, oldest, and leading academic institution in Cuba, and one of the first universities founded in the Americas. The University of Havana comprises 16 faculties and 14 research centres in a variety of fields, including economics, sciences, social science and humanities. In total, up to 25 specialities are taught at the university. Its specialities are in politics, Afro-Caribbean studies, music, literature, philosophy, sociology, history, biology and international relations. Twenty-five majors are taught at the university and approximately 6,000 degree students are enrolled in regular classes each year. Former president and leader of the Communist revolution, Fidel Castro, studied law at the University of Havana in the 40s.


About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018 and 2019. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)