The Small Grants Programme has been executing projects in Cuba since 2005, and to date SGP Cuba has developed and executed 134 projects at the national level, focusing on local communities. SGP’s main objective is to transfer best practices to communities and to increase capacity at the local level on issues of sustainable land management, biodiversity conservation, renewable energy sources, as well as climate change adaptation.

On Ferbuary 22 and 23, 2018, Small Grants Programme hosted a Knowledge Fair under the theme of Science, Community, and Sustainability for Life in the Camagüey Botanical Garden. The fair was co-sponsored by the Provincial Delegation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) and the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in Camagüey, Cuba.

The fair was chaired by Mrs. Consuelo Vidal, UNDP Resident Coordinator in Cuba and attended by Ms. Soledad Bauza, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Directors and Specialist of the (CITMA) in Camagüey, officials of the national and provincial ANAP, representative of the press in Camagüey, of the Regional Center for Management and Management of the Underwater Natural Heritage (CUBASUB) of Santiago de Cuba and of the GEF SGP. 150 persons from all the regions in Cuba participated in the fair, which served as a framework to socialize and exchange on the best experiences achieved at thecommunity level.

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Two keynote lectures were given at the fair by specialist representatives of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment on the topics of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction. Both sessions generated a broad and fluid exchange between the speakers and the participants on personal experiences. SGP project beneficiaries also participated in two panels, one on “Best practices and life experiences,” which was developed by small enterprise producers and another one “Women producers,” which was developed by beneficiary women. The panel discussions generated a rich exchange on the best production practices, training, gender equity, as well as sharing experiences about the impacts of projects on community life.

In one of her interventions, the Resident Coordinator Ms. Vidal emphatically pointed out that, “the active participation of women producers in this fair demonstrates that, in addition to being able to produce, they are agents of change through the consolidation and promotion of sustainable practices.

Informational banners, photos, and videos were displayed in the halls of the Botanical Garden, showcasing a sample of the main results achieved through SGP projects in Cuba. Projects that tackle the issues of climate change mitigation, biodiversity protection, and sustainable land management were shown. There was also a focus on collaborative action and knowledge sharing through South-South cooperation with Fiji, Solomon Islands, Belize, and Jamaica on the themes of agroecology, agrotourism, protection of the marine environment and alternative livelihoods in traditional fishing communities.

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The transfer of the best available knowledge to the communities constitutes a fundamental pillar of SGP projects. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and share best practices on sustainable development at the community level, the fair also featured a panel discussion on “The science and the innovation in the management of the community projects,” with specialists from Academic and Scientific Institutions. The participants shared experiences on how science has contributed to change in their communities, and how it has impacted their lives. The participating scientists recognized the lessons learned through SGP projects, which resulted in a fruitful exchange of knowledge.

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Youth and children beneficiaries of SGP projects also participated in the fair, on the topic of “Management of Cultural Educational Activities in the Coastal Community, for the dissemination of values and environmental problems of the Bay of Santiago de Cuba.” The participating school children expressed their concern for the care and protection of the environment and spread an environmental message.

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To sum up their experience, the participants planted a Royal Palm (Roystonea regia) in the Botanical Garden and covered it with soil from all regions of Cuba where the Small Grants Program has developed projects in the past 13 years. A bronze plate will be cast and put up to commemorate the planting of the palm and as a testament to the knowledge fair.