Cuba: lessons in sustainable development

From: Morning Star

IT IS well understood that the rich nations of the global North bear responsibility for runaway greenhouse gas emissions and the desecration of the natural world, while the poorer countries in the global South are suffering the consequences here and now.

Small island developing states are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change which causes more severe weather events such as hurricanes, floods, high temperatures and drought, and, due to historical barriers to development and the legacy of colonial exploitation, they rely on imports of food, fuel, commodities, and manufactured goods.

Cuba is one such island experiencing the impact of climate change despite only being responsible for 0.08 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

However, Cuba has been living under the sanctions imposed on it by the United States for the last 60 years. The blockade has been tightened over the decades in an attempt to turn the Cuban people against their government, and although this objective has not been met, the consequences for the island and its people are very real affecting all aspects of life and making the huge task of mitigating the effects of the climate emergency even more challenging.

The report Climate Finance Access and Mobilisation Strategy For Cuba (2022-2030) produced by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, estimates that a total of $13.8 billion is needed for climate adaptation and mitigation for this period, while current climate finance flows into the Cuba are estimated to be $208 million a year indicating a large gap in finance needed to address climate change. US sanctions have a devasting impact on Cuba’s ability to access international funding that is available to other nations.

Cuba’s strengths, however, are many. It has the highest literacy rates, life expectancy, average years of schooling and health coverage in Latin America and the Caribbean and its human development index (0.777) places Cuba in the group of countries characterised by high human development.

In 2017 the Cuban government approved a state plan to confront climate change, known as Tarea Vida (Project Life). This plan is able to harness Cuba’s world class scientific expertise, and its organisational and participatory structures to facilitate collective action at all levels of society. This has enabled the collection and analysis of detailed data about the threats of climate change across the island. Due to financial constraints, acting on the results of the research has to be done in a thrifty, innovative and sustainable way.

Tarea Vida is a national framework which sets out five strategic actions and eleven tasks. Using local expertise and supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA), these are implemented first in the areas identified as high risk.

The strategic actions and tasks have as their main priorities: preserving human life, food security, and protecting the tourist industry on which Cuba depends for a hard currency income with which to purchase imports of essentials such as food and medicines.

Cuba’s geography means that changes to rainfall patterns, increased hurricanes, and increasing temperatures have a major impact on coastal zones. Rising sea levels threaten coastal settlements and saline intrusion impacts on agricultural production.

Studies have identified the coastal zones most at risk, and these are prioritised for moving settlements and farms inland. The preservation of mangroves as natural sea defences is another priority. Preserving the health of beach areas is yet another.

These, and many other activities, require the participation of the local population, and therefore communication to increase the understanding and perception of risk is an important area of work. To this end, climate change studies have been incorporated into the education curriculum at all levels, from primary to postgraduate level.

Since Cuba adopted its new constitution in 2017, municipal governments have been placed at the centre of Cuba’s sustainable development strategy. All municipalities throughout Cuba (there are 168 in total) are required to formulate plans for the economic, social and cultural development of their local area, and all must have regard to climate change adaption and mitigation.

These are drawn up with the participation of the local population, taking into account local resources and potentialities. Local development and climate change adaption and mitigation are thus linked together and regarded as inseparable.

Cuba’s commitment to climate change action extends beyond its own borders. Through exchanging knowledge and innovations, and sharing its experiences, Cuba provides invaluable support and solidarity to other small island developing countries.

Categorías: Cuba, Medio Ambiente | Etiquetas: , , | Deja un comentario

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