Facts on Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development in Cuba

Facts on Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development in Cuba

 

  • From 1959 until 1989, Cuba’s model of development was in accordance with that of the Soviet Union – large scale industrial agriculture, massive dependence on oil subsidies for energy, and …
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  • But also in accordance with Soviet policy, Cuba was encouraged to develop its educational and health care systems until they reached an effective literacy rate of 100% and health indices on a part with and in some cases better than the most advanced countries of Europe and the United States.
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  • Cuba responded to the “special period” caused the 1989 collapse of the Soviet bloc and subsequent economic downturn (the economy fell by 80%), by establishing a Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, charged, along with other Ministries, with the task of finding truly sustainable ways for Cuba to meet its food, health care and energy needs.
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  • Although only 2% of the Latin American population, Cuba comprises 11% of the scientists who carry out research in over 200 research institutes across the island.
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  • 15 years later, in 2006, the World Wildlife Fund, using a combination of the Human Development Index and the Carbon Footprint, determined that Cuba was the only nation in the world living sustainably.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL OVERVIEW

 

  • Cuba is an archipelago, comprising over 4,000 smaller islands in addition to the main island and the Isle of Youth.
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  • Cuba has the richest biodiversity in the Caribbean with ??? endemic species,  ?? hectares of protected area, and 6 internationally recognized Biosphere Reserves.
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  • Although resorts blanket the coastlines of many of its Caribbean neighbors, Cuba remains largely undeveloped, with large tracts of untouched rain forest and unspoiled reefs.

 

COASTAL, MARINE AND WETLANDS

 

  • Cienaga de Zapata in southern Matanzas province, is the largest wetlands in the Caribbean and designated a “Wetland of International Importance” by the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands since 1971.
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  • Cuba’s coral reefs are pristine.  Noted oceanographer Jacques Cousteau is quoted as saying that diving in Cuba’s coral reefs restored his faith in humankind’s ability to protect precious natural resources. Present day “Ocean Doctor” David Guggenheim has said to five among Cuba’s reefs is like going back in time 50 years.
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  • Cuba’s coastline and mangrove archipelagos are breeding grounds for 750 species of fish and 3000 other marine organisms.
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FLORA AND FAUNA

 

  • More than half of Cuba’s 6000 species of plants and 80 of its reptiles and amphibians are endemic.
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  • Cuba is one of the few countries in the world that has increased the amount of forested land in the last few decades.
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  • Cuba has 350 species of birds, as well as a migratory resting ground for some of the world’s most precious cranes, flamingoes and herons. 
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  • Cuba is home to the earth’s smallest bird (Mellisuga helenae, the bee hummingbird, 63 millimetres long), the smallest bat and the smallest frog (Eleutherodactylus limbatus, 12 mm long).
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AGRICULTURE

 

  • Cuba is involved in the most comprehensive conversion from chemical to organic agriculture that any country has yet attempted.

 

RENEWABLE ENERGY

 

  • After its 2006  – 2007 “Year of the Energy Revolution,” Cuba reduced it’s CO2 emissions by 5 million tons, and its oil importation by 1,000,000 tons, by upgrading the entire electrical system and subsidizing the purchase of energy efficient household appliances.
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  • Cuba became the first country in the world to completely eliminate incandescent light bulbs.
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  • Cuba Solar, a Cuban NGO has installed thousands of solar panels on the roofs of rural family doctor clinics and schools.
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  • Cuba’s sugar mills are fueled by the bagasse (waste) left over from the sugar harvest. So much electricity is produced in this manner that the mills are able to upload a great deal of power onto Cuba’s electrical grid.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

Conservation International says it would be wrong to think, as some have posited, that  Cuba's environmental success is simply due to its economic underdevelopment.

"If this were true, then Haiti could be expected to be a verdant ecological paradise, instead of being the most environmentally devastated country in the region, with just a tiny fraction of its forest cover intact," he said. (And virtually denuded coral reefs.)

"Cuba's stable population, high literacy rate, clear land-tenure system, large cadre of well-trained conservationists, and relatively strong enforcement of laws and regulations are certainly all associated with its conservation achievements."