Handy Acosta Cuellar

CubaUnited States of America

  • Program Year
  • 2012-13
  • Country of Current Residence
  • U.S.A.
  • Current Position
  • Teacher
  • Organization
  • International School of Louisiana
  • Profession(s)
  • Environmentalist, Youth leader

  • Sector(s)
  • Advocacy, Education, Environment, Youth engagement
  • Language(s)
  • Spanish, English, French
  • Mentor
  • Professor Sylvie Deblois, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Science and the McGill School of Environment
  • Interest(s) / Expertise
  • environment, environmental advocacy, youth participation
Scholar Twitter profile Scholar LinkedIn profile Scholar email address
Impact Statement

I dream a lot and I work for my dreams.


Handy Acosta Cuellar is considered one of Cuba’s young leaders in the field of the environment and youth participation.

Handy is currently teaching at the International School of Louisiana. In April 2016, he completed his Master’s degree from the University of New Orleans with honours.

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1985, Handy began his environmental work at the community level at the age of 16. Four years later, he was volunteering for the Marine Turtles Conservation Project in Cuba’s Guanahacabibes UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In 2007, he  was elected Regional Youth Advisor by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Since that time, he has participated in several national and international negotiations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean and has also organized national and international workshops, conferences and summer schools for young environmentalists as part of his role as National Coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network.

In 2010, Handy was recognized for his environmental work by the British Council, which named him Climate Champion of the Caribbean. In 2007, Handy obtained a degree in Education with specializations in environmental education and sustainable development from Havana Pedagogic University, and became a member of the National Environmental Education Network the following year.

Before entering the Sauvé Fellows Program, he worked as the Principal Assistant with the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Humanity’s International Cooperation Program. In this capacity, he organized (and attended) academic expeditions for outstanding North American organizations such as the Smithsonian Institute and the American Museum of Natural History. Handy has also been a member of the Board of Directors for the Cuban Society for the Protection of the Environment (ProNATURALEZA) since 2007. He has published several articles about the Caribbean environment in specialized magazines.

As a Fellow

Handy created a community of practice, connecting young environmental leaders throughout Cuba with one another and with thought leaders on climate change adaptation in academia and government. The goal is to share knowledge and to increase young people’s capacity to promote change through effective participation and civic activism.

This community lives online, and is also intended to generate real (offline) interactions and collaborations. In May of 2013, thanks to a grant from Oxfam International, Handy delivered a workshop in Cuba on climate change adaptation and youth participation, at which he formally launched the community of practice. Handy continues to work to cultivate partnerships with members of Canadian organizations. On Friday 26 April 2013, Handy co-hosted an event at Maison Jeanne Sauvé with Fellow Gioel Gioacchino on “Making Youth Protagonists in Community Development and Climate Change Adaptation”. He used this opportunity to report on his project outcomes.

A highlight of the event was the presentation of a project that Gioel and Handy designed together entitled ‘Cuba All Inclusive: The Climate Change Challenge’. That project, summarized in a light-hearted video,  aims to connect 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. 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. In January 2015, Recrear shared the result in this video.