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Learning from the Most Sustainable Place on Earth

Santa Barbara Permaculture Network hosts Roberto Perez, Cuban environmental educator featured in the award winning documentary, "The Power of Community, How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" currently in the U.S. promoting the 11th International Permaculture Convergence (IPC11) to be held in Cuba in November of 2013.

The Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund in 2007 identified Cuba as the only sustainable country in the world.  The study involved two key parameters for measuring sustainable development, a commitment to"improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems".  Cuba was the ONLY country on earth to achieve satisfactory benchmarks in both criteria for sustainable development.

Formerly importing most of its food, Cuba's agriculture is now 95% organic, with the city of Havana producing over 60% of its own fruits and vegetables within the city's urban spaces.  At the same time, Cuba has been engaging in a massive reforestation campaign, and has invested massively in alternative energy production, with a focus on solar and biofuels.  

A small island nation with 11,000,000 people, struggling with poverty, devastating tropical storms, and the U.S. Embargo, how did Cuba achieve these goals and distinction?  What can we learn from Cuba's struggles and successes?  

Born in Havana in 1970, Roberto Perez is the Environmental Education & Biodiversity Conservation Program Director of the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, the oldest environmental organization in Cuba.  A graduate of the University of Havana with a degree in Biological Sciences, he later did post graduate specialization in Community Based Natural Resources Management at the University of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Roberto has been part of the Cuban Permaculture movement since its introduction in the country in 1993 after the so called "Special Period", caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union when Cuba lost access to oil, fertilizers, pesticides, and virtually all trading partners that the small island nation depended on to survive, facing economic collapse overnight.  Roberto has traveled extensively presenting Cuba's approach to sustainable living in the face of declining petroleum and other non-renewable resources.

As part of the Cuban Organizing Group for the upcoming International Permaculture Convergence in November, Roberto is touring the U.S. in support of scholarships for IPC11 attendees from sometimes cash poor, but skill rich countries and USA , wanting to attend and share their work & projects with other Permaculturists from around the world.

Traditionally International Permaculture Convergences take place every 2 years and switch between continents & hemispheres.  Past host sites have been Australia, USA, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Nepal, Croatia, Brazil, Africa & most recently Jordan in the Middle East.

More Info, [masked][masked]

More Info:

The Power of Community, How Cuba Survived Peak Oil Documentary

Short Video of Roberto Perez Explaining the Special Period in Cuba

The Eleventh International Permaculture Conference & Convergence (in English & Spanish)

Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Humanity 
the oldest environmental organization in Cuba.

Benefit Donation $15 - $20
A benefit for the Eleventh International Permaculture Convergence Scholarships

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  • Zane I.

    Please take this topic someplace else... thanks

    September 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I agree that in general there has been harmony with nature for the last 3000 years and maybe 10000 years in the South Pacific. There have been some rare exceptions. Most notable was the people of the Easter Island and some animals in PNG went extinct at about the time of the arrival of people. Blackbirding was an awful thing.

    September 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have not been to Cuba but I would guess Papua New Guinea is at least as sustainable. It has not changed much in the last 10,000 years. There are now a few airports and roads but mostly it is still hunter/gatherer with very little input or output from the nation. 90% of the people live in true permaculture just as 1000 generations have done before them.

    August 16, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I see that the birth rate is nearly 7 times the death rate. The population must be exploding there. It seems that family planning would be one of the most important things that could be done in Vanuatu.

      August 25, 2013

    • Janna O.

      Reading on Blackbirding, imposed economic, governmental and educational systems, along with cultural and generational loss in the South Pacific may be of use to you in assessing this and other occurrences deleterious to 3,000 years of indigenous cultural mechanisms which maintained harmony with Nature in their resource-constrained archipelago societies. Family planning approaches are underway in Vanuatu and such programs run in tandem with cultural restoration efforts. A key question is what to do to retain or establish a fresh population balance in a rapidly changing culture when youth are exposed to mainland concepts which serve to further alienate them from the tribal custom which governed balance, though not necessarily equality - among tribal members.

      September 5, 2013

  • Susan L.

    Excellent presentation. Roberto Perez provided a wealth of information and certainly made me want to go see how pc is working (and accepted!) in Cuba. I was happy to see the number of people who showed up.

    1 · August 21, 2013

  • Jane B.

    This is not clear to me. Is Roberto Perez actually going to be there? Is he speaking? Or, is this just a showing of the documentary?

    August 20, 2013

    • Marisha A.

      Roberto Perez will be in Portland to offer this presentation. We are not watching a movie. He will be speaking about Permaculture in Cuba. He is on a North American tour to fund raise for the International Permaculture Convergence in Cuba. Feel free to message me if have any other questions. I hope to see you there!

      1 · August 20, 2013

  • Janna O.

    Having attended Roberto's presentation in NYC on Sat., Aug. 17, I'd like to encourage you - get there any way you can! Roberto's inspiring and pragmatic about what can be achieved and the profound motivation requires for us to act. Must Meet MeetUp!

    August 18, 2013

  • Craig L.

    I haven't been to Cuba since the early 90s, so I was especially anxious to hear Roberto's remarks. Alas, I won't be able to attend due to another commitment, but hope it will be recorded so I can catch it later... Does anyone indeed to do a recording? Of course video would be great!

    August 16, 2013

  • harriet f.

    Looking forward to hearing about a country that learned how to live within the limits of its borders (or sorta kinda did). But also wondering how the new open policy to travelers and small business development is impacting that effort. Want to go to the convergence in Cuba - oh yeah.

    July 23, 2013

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