The RISDoC Partnership:

The Brooking’s Institute, the Erb Institute and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) came together to support the Cuban government and enterprise leaders in achieving optimum sustainability outcomes and contribute to global sustainability. The Research Initiative for the Sustainable Development of Cuba (RISDoC) was formed in May 2016 with this goal and member organizations will work toward three specific objectives:

  1. Create learning opportunities for the Cuban academic community, government officials, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and enterprise leaders regarding development opportunities around global sustainable business models;
  2. Promote learning and engagement around sustainable development in Cuba among international stakeholders; and
  3. Conduct research to gather, analyze and disseminate knowledge on sustainability topics in Cuba.

Sustainable Development: The Path to Economic Growth in Cuba

On April 6, 2017, the Brookings Institution and RISDoC co-hosted an experts seminar which focused on Cuba’s long-term sustainability planning, building on the discussions that took place during Brookings’ May 2016 conference Opportunities for Sustainable Development in Cuba.

The discussion focused on three main themes: Cuba’s economic response to changing regional and global contexts (including normalization with the United States), sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy.

As it prepares for the post-Castro era in February 2018, Cuba has the opportunity to reenergize its economic reform agenda to promote sustainable growth and stability on the island. To do so, the country will have to emerge from its current state of economic stagnation, heavy reliance on imports, unsustainably low state wages, and ongoing brain drain. The December 17, 2014 announcement of normalization between Cuba and the United States renewed hope that, assuming continued progress toward lifting the embargo, Cuba would be able to access U.S. markets and investment capital to breathe new life into its economy. However, the election of Donald Trump has brought that into question and reaffirmed the view that Cuba should secure its own development opportunities with or without the United States.

Experts are increasingly convinced that peer-to-peer relationships between Cubans and Americans are a more effective route to expanding bilateral relations for increased development on the island. The newly formed Research Initiative for the Sustainable Development of Cuba (RISDoC) is putting this idea to the test, bringing together a diverse group of members that combine deep knowledge of the Cuban context with recognized expertise in sustainability, economic development, and business acumen in order to support Cuban development efforts and achieve optimum sustainability outcomes. In February 2017, RISDoC held an inaugural conference in Havana that brought together universities and research centers, NGOs, and government including representatives of Cuba’s ministries of agriculture, energy and mines, tourism, and science, technology and environment. The conference sought to open channels for further communication about sustainability at the government and grass roots levels.

Read the full Executive Summary from the Brooking’s Institution here.

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