Handy Acosta Cuellar (2012 - 2013)
Handy Acosta Cuellar is considered one of Cuba’s young leaders in the field of the environment and youth participation.
Born in Havana, Cuba in 1985, he 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, Handy 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, he 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.
Most recently, 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 Sauvé Scholar, Handy proposes to design and implement a capacity building program for young environmental leaders from selected communities of Cuba in order to provide them with the necessary knowledge and to increase their capacity to promote change through effective participation and civic activism.
The island nation of Cuba is prone to natural disasters and is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because of its limited natural resources and open economy, which is particularly sensitive to external shocks. The Cuban government, together with several institutions and NGOs, is working at the national level to address issues such as saline intrusion into freshwater aquifers, coastal flooding and erosion, heat stress, coral bleaching and severe impacts on the agriculture and tourism sector.
However, Handy is convinced that environmental advocacy and planning should focus on the community level, especially on those communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Furthermore, he believes that it is critical to involve Cuban youth because in the near future, it is they who will be subjected to more severe weather events, water shortages, food supply disruptions, and increasingly intense natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and sea penetrations.
Raised near the seashore, Handy is an avid fisherman and diver, and like so many of his countrymen, he is passionate about baseball. Along with classical ballet and music, he enjoys the theatre and learning about ancient history and culture, especially Greek and Roman. He loves to discover new cultures and to learn from them, and believes that tolerance and understanding of other cultures are essential to overcoming today’s problems. And, luckily for his fellow Sauvé Scholars: Handy likes to cook, especially traditional cuisine.
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Country of Residence
Contact Handy Acosta Cuellar: Handy.Acosta.Cuellar@sauvescholars.org