Youth-led Environmental Research on Climate Change Adaptation

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Youth-led Environmental Research on Climate Change Adaptation

Havana, Santa Clara and Santiago, CubaOttawa, Canada
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We believe in youth-centered community development stories. We are training Cuban youth researchers to pool the grassroots knowledge of youth. Our aim is to connect these leaders from across the country to inform environmental policy and share their lessons learned all over the world.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

Cuba's climate change adaptation lessons could be applied to the rest of the world
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

While Western media was exposed to graphic footage of how Hurricane Sandy affected New York City, it is less known that two days earlier the same hurricane tore through Cuba. For Cuba, climate change threatens to alter the make-up of everyday life. Yet, there is a great opportunity to leverage and learn from the great work on climate change adaptation carried out by young people across Cuba.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Cuba can do little to halt actual climate change. What it can do is be proactive in how to adapt. Despite severe limits on how NGOs can access international funds, many experimental and creative initiatives have sprung up around the country. There is a great opportunity to work, right now, to leverage the great work on climate change adaptation that is happening across Cuba. There is an opportunity to ignite community and especially youth participation in tackling this challenge, but also to create a forum that can facilitate capacity building and learning between different stakeholders, a platform that creates opportunities for best practices on climate change adaptation to be shared widely across the country.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Through a youth to youth approach, Recrear provides consulting services to support its partnering organizations with the design, implementation, and monitoring of their programs. For this project, first we train young Cuban leaders to carry out participatory research in their community. Through programs that use creative and engaging techniques (photography, sports, development theatre, and many others), Recrear connects like-minded youth to articulate their vision for climate change adaptation in Cuba. We then share the information and insight we gather with our partner organization (Caribbean Youth Environment Network) that then disseminates the information with other youth networks in the Caribbean.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Our projected future impact is: • To train 10 Cuban youth leaders on how to conduct participatory research • To collect data on youth participation in environmental issues and community development • To facilitate an exchange of ideas and best practices on environmental work among 25 young leaders • To collaborate with 6 young leaders to compile a guide with the grassroots best practices on climate change adaptation and environmental preservation. Said guide will ultimately inform CYEN nationwide and a Caribbean wide educational curriculum on climate change • To organize a review of the guide with 30 young people for final improvements • To connect 30 young leaders from around the country to network and discuss best practices

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

By training the trainers, we are providing tools for youth leaders to continually carry out participatory research with their communities. The participatory methodologies make it possible to tailor techniques to any number of different research questions. As a result, upon completion of the project, leaders can maintain a cycle of feedback with communities on the topic of climate change adaptation by using these participatory techniques.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Perhaps surprisingly, there are limited climate change projects taking place in Cuba. In large part due to funding limitations in Cuba, we have yet to benefit from Cuba's know-how in the area of climate change adaptation. Youth engagement in the environmental projects, however, is not difficult to see in Cuba. The unique socialist fabric of society has cultivated a natural interest in brainstorming solutions as a community. Still what lacks are the skills to realize participatory research and envision larger change.

Founding Story

In 2012/13 2 young emerging leaders lived together in Montreal under the Sauvé Foundation Scholars program. Handy is a climate change activist from Cuba, and Gioel is the founder of a youth organization called Recrear. Together they saw an opportunity to collaborate by bringing Recrear's youth-led participatory research model to Cuba's environmental challenge. In the months they lived together they sought out project partners and began to create a pathway for connecting Cuban environmental youth leaders. Months of research led to a project visit to meet project partners and, more importantly, some of the youth who would be leading the research process. What remains is to train these leaders and together consolidate their knowledge.
About You
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name
Organization Country

, ON, Ottawa

Country where this project is creating social impact

, LHA, Havana, Santa Clara and Santiago

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Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

Given that we will be working with Cuban youth leaders from three critical areas including Havana, Santa Clara and Santiago; we hope to connect environmental leaders across the country. The publication ultimately created will be a product of these leaders working together to consolidate their knowledge.

Thereafter, our critical partnership with CYN is what will allow the lessons learned from Cuba to be spread to other countries of the Caribbean. More specifically we envision the wide circulation of an educational curriculum on climate change all over the world through Recrear's network.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

- Consistent Participation of Young People: A large number of the young leaders in Cuba are still in the pursuit of their studies and as a result have little extra time to dedicate to other activities

We see an opportunity to overcome this barrier by creating agreements with the universities that recognize their participation in our training workshops as extra-curricular activities. In this way, youth can be recognized even academically for their participation in the program. We have seen this work and have already built a relationship with the university to facilitate future workshops.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

Caribbean Youth Environment Network: Based in Barbados, this network aims to connect young people around environmental issues all over the Caribbean. They have been able to actively work in most countries of the Caribbean except for Cuba due to political and language barriers however they are looking forward to building a new relationship.

UN Habitat: Thanks to this partner we have been able to secure partial funding for workshops and training

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Create an environment where people give feedback freely.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

Through creative participatory techniques we see a unique opportunity to capture youth knowledge on Cuba's climate change adaptation experience. More to the point, we see this know-how then playing a critical role in informing the environmental policy of the country. The lessons learned from Cuba and the creation of an environmental curriculum to engage youth and communities in response to climate change could make a significant contribution into how climate change solutions are envisioned at the global level.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English, Spanish, French.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?
What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

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Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?
What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

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What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

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How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

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What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

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How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

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How is feedback published/transparent?

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Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.
If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?
What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

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Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?