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The RATB brigade embarked on a visit to the agroecological community project known as ‘Granjita Feliz’ (‘Happy little farm’) in Guanabacoa, Cuba. During this enlightening experience, the brigade had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the environment ministry, who shed light on Tarea Vida (‘Life Task’), the Cuban government’s ambitious 100-year plan to combat the adverse effects of climate change. The brigade also had the privilege of viewing an art exhibition and talent show prepared by local residents and students with special educational needs who participate in the Granjita Feliz project.

Climate change is already profoundly affecting Cuban society, as it is elsewhere in the underdeveloped nations. In 2022 alone, 32.6 million people were displaced from their homes due to environmental catastrophes, predominantly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Cuba’s shores are acutely vulnerable to flooding, making the island nation highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change. As we learned from Professor Juan Ernesto Gutierrez Leyva in a meeting at Havana University, 70% of Cuba’s population lives on or near the coast. Cuba has already begun to experience reduced rainfall periods and rising sea levels, which is projected to persist until 2100. In response to these threats, the Cuban government recognized the need for a comprehensive and multifaceted plan to address climate change, hence the birth of Tarea Vida.

As Gutierrez explained, Tarea Vida seeks to tackle climate change by dividing territories into manageable units, conducting thorough research on the dangers posed by climate change, and implementing strategies to mitigate its effects. Divided into five actions and eleven tasks, Tarea Vida emphasises the importance of raising public awareness about climate change and securing funding for its implementation. Like other humanities faculty members we met at the university, Gutierrez is part of the Latin American Faculty of Social Scientists (FLACSO), which has been assisting the Cuban state with the task of implement ingTarea Vida in a way which ensures participation of the whole Cuban population: ‘You can have all the most powerful projects, but if the population are not included or don’t understand, there will be a very big gap between what the project wants and what the people need to understand and support it.’

Guanabacoa, a municipality within the province of Havana, has emerged as a key player in the Tarea Vida initiative. Despite being situated away from the coastal areas, Guanabacoa was chosen as the sole recipient of EU funding and technical training related to climate change. This decision was instrumental in dispelling the misconception that climate change only affects coastal regions. The involvement of Guanabacoa showcased the universality and urgency of climate change concerns.
As part of the Euroclima+ project, implementing Tarea Vida in Guanabacoa has involved the calculation of carbon footprints and a gender-inclusive approach to climate change solutions. Tangible outcomes of this collaboration include the development of three electric bike routes through Guanabacoa and the installation of solar panel stations to enhance transportation and minimise carbon emissions.

Through its participation in international events such as the 2019 Mexico Summit and the 14th Summit of the Environment and Development, Guanabacoa has raised its profile as a pioneering municipality in the fight against climate change. It aims to serve as a model for other regions, providing insights into the unique challenges posed by climate change in each municipality. Nevertheless, certain challenges remain, such as increasing community involvement, measuring the impacts of climate change effectively, and expanding climate change integration across the municipality’s infrastructure.

Tarea Vida shows how socialist planning and mass participatory democracy are crucial for humanity to survive the climate crisis which has been created by capitalism. As Fidel Castor warned the other world leaders at the UN’s Rio da Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992: ‘Stop insensitivity, irresponsibility and deceit! Tomorrow will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.’

Will Jones