At a glance
As Small Island Developing State, Cuba ́s natural resources and economy are strongly affected by climate change. Energy and food (imports and production) are the most vulnerable sectors and the greatest Green House Gas (GHG) emitters (76 % and 15 % respectively as per data of the National Determined Contributions). Sustainable bioenergy and agroecology are recognized as innovative economic models that would allow Cuba in keeping low carbon and environmental footprints while pursuing energy and food sovereignty, provided the necessary biomass to produce bioenergy is produced in a sustainable way. In that sense, the Renewable Energy Directive defines sustainability criteria that have been reinforced in its recast (RED II). This GCCA+ action foresees to upgrade the use of sustainable biogas and brings the production of biomethane for public transport in a rural context, where fuel shortage is a limitation to productive and social activities. Agroecology’s principles, citizen participation and improved Municipality’s management and governance skills will help promote social and economic inclusion and environmental sustainability of this innovative solution and test which are the opportunities of replication and scaling up in Cuba. The action will directly benefit the 22 000 habitants of Martí by providing a cleaner and more efficient transport service, healthier agriculture products and better working conditions in farms, increased resilience of the agriculture and energy sectors and decreased GHG emissions.
Cuba’s National determined Contributions (NDC) well evidence how natural resources and economy have been strongly affected by environmental degradation (soil salinization and degradation, invasive species, water and air pollution), the impacts of climate change (sea level rise, water salinization, an increase of temperature of 0.9°C and a decrease of 10% in precipitation) and the intensification of weather and climatic extreme events (tropical hurricanes and droughts) .
Energy and agriculture are the most vulnerable sectors and the greatest GHG emitters (76 % and 15 % respectively). The two sectors are rooted on conventional economic models, highly dependent on fuel-fossil and external unsustainable inputs. Imports for both sectors of around 80% of national needs expose the country to other external shocks, namely global price fluctuations and strengthening of the economic embargo.
In pursuing energy and food sovereignty, the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) recognises bioenergy and agroecology as innovative economic models that will allow Cuba in keeping low carbon and environmental footprints while satisfying the needs of Cuban people. However, this depends on the supply of biomass in sustainable conditions, in order to avoid negative impacts like deforestation, biodiversity loss or reduced carbon sinks. The use of residues and manure to produce bioenergy, in line with circular economy principles, is also an option. In 2017, Renewable Energy (RE) represented 4.5% of the country's total primary energy production.
By 2030, NDC plans for 24% of RE of which 14% by biomass. Conversion of biowaste in biogas is a great opportunity for Cuba. The Cuban biogas sector is steadily growing. Records for 2013 report an annual increase of 88.4% of bioenergy by State plants (with 279 operative digesters out of the existing 390) while individual biogas plants increased from 3,000 in 2015 to 5,000 in 2019 . The NDC mentions the importance of biogas for the production of biofertilisers so to replace chemical fertilisers, further reducing GHG emissions and pollution and closing nutrient cycle. In response to the economic hardship during the periodo especial , agroecology applied ecological principles to agricultural systems and practices in Cuba in order to achieve food sustainability, sovereignty and security. The agroecology model is recommended to achieve greater resilience in the face of climatic adversities which are frequent to the island (hurricanes, droughts, floods); restoration
of soils degraded by intensive agrochemical use; healthy food; greater productivity in the mid-long term; increased number of green jobs; less dependence on external inputs, investments and foreign exchange. By 2018, 136,000 farmers incorporate the Farmer-to-Farmer Agroecology Movement (MACAC), practicing sustainable land management in 30,000 ha and agroforestry in other 20,000 ha. Despite this tendency, the agriculture conventional model is still largely used in Cuba.
Building on the knowledge acquired thanks to the EU-Cuba Experts’ Exchange Programme, this GCCA+ action foresees to upgrade the use of biogas and bring the production of biomethane for public transport in a rural context, where fuel shortage is a limitation to productive and social activities. Agroecology’s principles, citizen participation and improved Municipality’s management and governance skills will help in promoting the social, economic and environmental sustainability of this innovative solution and test which are the opportunities of replication and scaling up.
Martí, in the Province of Matanzas, has been selected as a pilot Municipality due to its representativeness of the Cuban rural context, including its vulnerability to extreme events, the long term collaboration with MEP and its experience in: coping with the negative environmental impacts of conventional agricultural extensive systems; decontaminating large State pig-rearing farms; producing biogas at State Farms; promoting agroecological farming; piloting different internationally funded projects at municipality level; capitalising the support of the research centre Indio Hatuey on forage and biogas and of Matanzas University.