"One ecosystem, one world, one planet… From high above, what we need to do is so obvious — work together…"
In its 2006 Sustainability Index Report, the World Wildlife Fund, utilizing a combination of the United Nations Human Development Index (a measure of how well a nation is meeting its nutrition, water, health care, and education needs, etc.) and the Ecological Footprint (natural resource use per capita) determined that there is only one nation in the world that is currently living sustainably – and that nation is CUBA.
How did Cuba, a small island nation of 11,000,000 people, struggling with issues of poverty, the U.S. embargo, and devastating annual hurricanes, achieve this extraordinary distinction? And what can environmentalists in the U.S. learn from Cuba’s struggles and successes?
Travel with Eco Cuba Network to Cuba and find out for yourself!
Throughout the 1960's, 70's and 80's, the Cuban people enjoyed the highest quality-of-life indices in Latin America, rivaling the United States and other countries of the developed world. Cuba was internationally praised as the one developing country that had eradicated hunger and the World Health Organization touted the Cuban health care system as a "model for the world." As early as 1989, Cuba ranked 11th in the world in the Overseas Development Council's Physical Quality of Life Index, (which includes infant mortality, life expectancy and literacy) while the U.S. ranked 15th.
After the setbacks of the 1990's, caused by the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the tightening of the U.S. Embargo, Cuba's quality of life indices did decline slightly for a few years, but then steadily improved. Denied their former imports of petroleum products and pharmaceuticals, Cuba's 35,000 scientists, operating in 200 research institutes across the island, began to explore indigenous and more sustainable ways to meet their food, medicine and energy needs. Extraordinary innovations in organic agriculture and urban gardens earned Cuban agriculturists the Alternative Nobel Prize/Right Livelihood Award; advances in renewable energy including solar, wind, micro-hydro, biogas, and biomass, and island-wide energy efficiency campaigns earned the Cuban NGO Cuba Solar, the UN Global 500 award; and the development of alternative and traditional health care practices earned Cuba recognition by the UN Development Council, as one of the five most important projects in health care internationally.
Cuba was the first nation to complete its biodiversity census after the Rio Earth Summit in 1992; 22% of its land is officially designated "Protected Areas"; it's coral reefs are healthy (Jacques Cousteau used to say that whenever he was in despair about the state of the world's ocean ecosystems, he thought of Cuba and his hope was rejuvenated); and it is one of the few nations in the world to have increased its percentage of forested land in the past several decades.
Cuba models, for the rest of the world, the possibility of obtaining a high quality of life, on a relatively small national budget, while utilizing low levels of the planet's limited resources. This tiny island nation is showing us a possible way to live simply, healthfully, and sustainably on the Earth.
For articles, blogs and videos on environmental protection and sustainable development in Cuba, check out our Cuba Resources page
For program information on this tour, please email Pam Montanaro, Coordinator, Eco Cuba Network or call at 510-649-1052.
Program Highlights may include:
• Tour of sustainable development projects in Havana and Old Havana
• Urban gardens and farmers' markets in urban and rural Cuba
• Meetings with staff of environmental education NGOs and Ministries
• Meeting with the Foundation for Nature and Humanity
• Tour of Las Terrazas intentional sustainable community
• Ecostation meeting in the Sierra Rosario Biosphere Reserve
• Meeting with Department of Natural and Complementary Medicine at the Ministry of Public Health
• Meetings with community natural health clinics and pharmacies
• Renewable Energy vocational-technical school
• Recycling and Environmental Clean up projects
• Neighborhood and community associations responsible for sustainable development
• Optional cultural activities
• Small group meetings according to professional interest
• Round trip flight Cancun/Havana/Cancun
• Three or four star hotel accommodations (double room; add $300 for single room)
• 2 meals daily
• Translation of scheduled program
• Transportation, with group, in country
• Scheduled program fees and speakers stipends
• Cuban visa and required Cuban Health Insurance
Fee does NOT include:
• Airfare to/from Cancun from home city
• Travel insurance (highly recommended!)
• Optional evening cultural activities
• Beverages, bottled water
• Tips, gratuities to Cuban guides, waiters, hotel staff, etc
• Personal expenditures