Cuba is vulnerable to many impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, agricultural impacts and increased frequency and intensity of severe weather events. This vulnerability makes the development of strategies to ameliorate climate change impacts in Cuba extremely important. IndEco, in partnership with the University of Toronto’s Institute for Environmental Studies and the Cuban Instituto de Meteorologia, is undertaking a project to address this need.

Project description

The project, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), aims to facilitate the Cuban government’s efforts to integrate climate change into its broader institutional, policy and national goals and programs, while focusing specifically on the development of sector specific action, awareness, and adaptation strategies through the development and implementation of strategic planning exercises and training modules.

The project activities involve the preparation and delivery of two multimedia modules for use in sector-specific workshops throughout Cuba. The inaugural workshops were delivered to the Ministry of Basic Industry (MINBAS), a very important government department in Cuba responsible for such activities as electricity generation, mining, cement, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. The first module has two main components: an overview of the science and policy of climate change; and an interactive self-assessment session to explore the challenges and opportunities associated with climate change for a particular sector. The second module is a full day strategic planning session in which participants begin to develop sector specific action plans related to climate change.

The goal was to develop flexible engaging modules, which can be used throughout Cuba and potentially in other countries, to assess and address the impacts of climate change on particular economic sectors in interactive workshops. It is hoped, also, to explore the broader goal of contributing to a national climate change strategy through an investigation of the potential for Canadian originated Clean Development Mechanisms to contribute to Cuba’s energy efficiency and sequestration efforts.

Progress and results

Module 1 was successfully delivered to approximately 25 participants from MINBAS in Havana in September 2003. Participants were given an overview of the science and policy of climate change and later engaged in lively group discussions about the climate change challenges and opportunities specific to MINBAS.

After the module 1 workshop, participants completed worksheets to begin or to deepen their thinking about climate change, and how it relates to their organization and its activities.

Module 2 was delivered to the MINBAS participants in Havana in November 2003 in a second full-day workshop. Participants worked through a strategic planning process that took them from considering the “preferred state” for the world, Cuba and their organisation, through the identification and ranking of options for moving towards the preferred state and to a set of specific options for them to act on in the coming months.

After the second workshop, all participants indicated they would recommend the process to their colleagues, and all participants identified specific activities that they committed to undertake over the short-term to address climate change related issues. The Deputy Minister from MINBAS made an impassioned plea for building actions related to climate change and other environmental issues into the larger plans MINBAS is developing. Feedback from participants indicated that they found the workshops to be both informative and interesting. Many participants also indicated that the planning methodology laid out would be useful to them in other contexts.