On Friday 26 April 2013, Handy Acosta and Gioel Gioacchino co-hosted an event at Maison Jeanne Sauvé on “Making Youth Protagonists in Community Development and Climate Change Adaptation”. Each discussed the work they were involved with over the course of their year in Montreal, and they then presented a joint initiative to the audience.
Handy discussed the challenges Cuba is facing as a result of a changing climate. He explained that the initiatives being taken to address the problem in his country are often disconnected and suggested the need for greater collaboration between different people and institutions working on this issue.
Handy used his Sauvé year to create a community of practice on climate change adaptation in Cuba, which includes experts from academia and government as well as young community activists throughout the country. The community is supported by an interactive web platform.
Gioel presented the work she carried out over her Sauvé year to strengthen Recrear, the organization she directs. Recrear is a global youth-led organization that works to ensure young people are actively involved in designing and implementing community development projects. Recrear’s methodology includes carrying out participatory research with young people at the community level and consulting for organizations to help them engage and work with youth more proactively. Gioel discussed the steps she took over the course of her year in residence to improve Recrear’s financial and organizational sustainability.
After their two presentations, Gioel and Handy facilitated a short participatory exercise that encouraged the guests to reflect about their opinions and attitudes towards environmental issues. This exercise served as an example of the type of activities to be run as part of a project that Gioel and Handy designed together entitled ‘Cuba All Inclusive: The Climate Change Challenge’. That project, summarized in video form, here, aims at connecting young environmental leaders in Cuba in order to collect and share best practices on grassroots climate change adaptation. The outcome of the initiatives will be a guide on climate change adaptation to be used in Cuba and throughout the Caribbean by two partner organizations.
The Sauvé Foundation was particularly pleased that Handy and Gioel had not only accomplished their individual project goals, but had collaborated to develop a third project, each contributing their expertise to help solve a real problem. This kind of initiative is one fruitful outcome of the Sauvé Scholars Program model, in which talented young leaders from different backgrounds live together and learn from one another.
Immediately after the Sauvé Program, Gioel and Handy carried out an initial scoping trip to Cuba in May of 2013. In order to implement their project, they partnered with the Caribbean Youth Environmental Network and were granted the UN-Habitat Youth Fund. The Foundation will be reporting on this project in the months ahead.