“The Power of community”
Roberto Perez and international permaculturist from Cuba is visiting Bellingen on the weekend of the River Festival. He works as a environmental educator for the Foundation for Nature and Humanity, Cuba's major environment organization based in Havana.
His visit to Bellingen will provide a rare opportunity to hear about the Cuba experience first hand and engage in dialogue and discussion on practical ways we can meet the challenges of climate change and making the transition to a low energy society.
Living Planet Sustainability Index
Roberto Perez is familiar to many Australians as the dynamic permaculturist featured in the DVD documentary "The Power of Community", which has inspired a diverse audience throughout Australia, including schools, universities, climate action groups, relocalisation groups, community gardeners, church groups, and countless public and private screenings.
The new wave of change firing the Australian public signals a readiness to re-examine our society and explore sustainable solutions to embrace the challenges of a low-carbon future. We have much to learn from the Cuba experience, particularly in the areas of urban agriculture, food security, building community and living a low-impact lifestyle.
The 2007 Living Planet Report recently released by the World Wildlife Fund claims that the only truly sustainable country in the world is Cuba--Sustainable development being defined as a commitment to "improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems".
The two key parameters employed by WWF for measuring sustainable development were the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) as the indicator of human wellbeing --calculated from life expectancy, literacy and education, and per capita GDP; and Ecological Footprint calculated at 1.8 global hectares per person to measure the demand on the biosphere.
Cuba was the ONLY country on earth to achieve both criteria for sustainable development.
In terms of ecological footprint, Australia rates as the 6th highest nation on earth. If everyone lived like the average Australian we'd need almost 4 planets to support the earth's current population.
The report naturally does not imply that everything in Cuba is perfect, it still faces challenges in terms of environmental degradation and living within the limits of the USA trade embargo, yet this externally imposed restraint is perhaps the key factor resulting in the Cuban population living within it's global footprint. The report is definitely a wake-up call that the affluent lifestyle enjoyed in Australia is clearly not sustainable and we need to live more like Cubans in terms of simplicity and frugality, we need to dramatically reduce our consumption and become more resourceful with less.
Roberto's visit will provide a unique opportunity to learn more about how a society can survive with serious resource constraints and attain a high degree of self-reliance. Documentary will be presented by Roberto Perez at 5 Church St Cafe Sunday night 4th Nov at 6pm.