Cuba is the only country in the world today that meets the criteria for sustainable development, according to a report from the World Wildlife Federation. The WWF released a report on Oct. 24 showing that humans are using up natural resources faster than nature can replenish or renew them.
The report said humans’ “ecological footprint”—the demand people place on nature— was 25 percent greater than the
According to this year’s report, the “footprint” from use of fossil fuels was the greatest accelerant of overuse, due to greenhouse gas emissions raising world temperatures.
WWF director-general James Leape, announcing the report’s results, explained that if the current course is continued, the goal of sustainable development will become unreachable. Sustainability means that people have achieved certain basic levels in living standards while not exceeding nature’s ability to provide resources.
Socialist Cuba was the only country to meet the standards for sustainability using two indices, the WWF’s ecological footprint measure and the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index. The HDI is calculated based on life expectancy, literacy and per capital Gross Domestic Product. An HDI value greater than 0.8 is considered to be “high human development.”
The ecological footprint measures “demand on the biosphere in terms of the area of biologically productive land and sea required” to provide resources and absorb waste. A nation’s footprint includes, “cropland, grazing land, forest and fishing grounds required to produce the food, fiber and timber it consumes,” to absorb the waste produced, and to provide space for infrastructure.
The footprint is measured in terms of “global hectares” per person per country. The global average footprint is 1.8 hectares, so a footprint size lower than 1.8 denotes sustainable use. The United States’ footprint is 9.5 hectares. Only Cuba had an HDI value of 0.8 or greater combined with an ecological footprint of 1.8 or lower.
To socialists, this finding is not surprising. The revolutionary process in Cuba has elevated the health and educational levels of the Cuban people. The revolutionary leadership of Cuba has made education and health care a priority, even in times of economic hardship.
Cuba also has become a world leader in the use of environmentally sustainable agricultural practices. With socialist planning and distribution, there is no incentive to waste resources in pursuit of short-term profit; the only incentive is to plan for sustainable development, stewarding natural resources for future generations.