DATE AND TIME: November 14, 2015 – 9:00am-6:00pm
LOCATION: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

The thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations is creating space for dramatic change and improvement in Cuba’s economy, society, and built environment. With this new mobility will come tremendous opportunity to revitalize Cuba’s economy and improve the lives of Cubans, challenges in addressing myriad transitional and structural issues, and urgency to set constructive frameworks, as actions taken in the coming months will shape Cuba over the next several decades.

This conference will:

  • Create an open, frank, and constructive discourse on Cuba’s future.
  • Explore via lively panels the possible effects of transition on Cuba’s built and natural environment, and how to harness the forces of change to improve both.
  • Foster an ongoing multi-party conversation leading to guiding principles for economic, ecological, and cultural resilience in Cuba.

Panel 1: Ecology and Culture

Over half of the Caribbean’s ecologically preserved land is Cuban territory, including some of the last pristine coral reefs in the Western hemisphere, Cuba, has – thus far – mostly avoided the all-inclusive tourism-driven overdevelopment missteps that have plagued Cancún, Spain’s Costa del Sol, and Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast. How will a transitioning Cuba balance the promises of tourism and retain its unique cultural and unparalleled environmental character?

What is a Transitioning Context, and Where Do Development and Environment Fit In?
To be announced

Education, Research, and the Role of Local Communities in Coastal Zone Management: A Caribbean Perspective
Jorge Alberto Angulo Valdés, Professor and Head of Marine Conservation Group at Center for Marine Research, University of Havana

Divided Shores, Collective Ecosystems: Working Across the Straits of Florida since Helms-Burton (1996) and Future Directions for Environmental Policy
David Guggenheim, Marine Scientist / President, Ocean Doctor (TBC)

Development Corridors in Context: Lessons from Other Shores, Big and Small
To be announced

Respondent: Dilip da Cunha, Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Adjunct Professor at the School of Design, University of Pennsylvania

Panel 2: Built Environment and Housing

Cuba’s built environment and its housing stock face major capital backlogs and physical/ functional obsolescence.  Substantial long-term capital finance would normally be required to upgrade and transform this stock. How will public finance (e.g. government, DFIs) and increasing private finance (e.g. developers, banks) interact? What are the spatial implications of this transition, and how will policies shape, or be affected by, the interaction?  Where do larger-scale projects – infrastructural improvements to roads and bridges, telecommunications and internet upgrades, and electrical grid and port upgrades – fit in?

Global Context: The interaction of public and private finance on housing and built environment in transitional states
David Smith, CEO and Founder, Affordable Housing Institute

Development Pressures: Negotiating a Complex Business Space
To be announced

Community-Focused Urban Development in a Transitional Context
Alejandro Echeverri, Loeb Fellow 2015-16/Co-founder and Director, Urbam

Cuba Facing Forward: The Function of Planning in a Regional Re‐imagining
Joseph L. Scarpaci, Ph.D. (AACSB-Marketing), Executive Director, Center for Cuban Culture + Economy

Closing Discussion and Way Forward

Economy, built environment, and ecology influence each other, which, in turn and affect and are affected by government policy and regulation. How can Cuba find a way forward that yields a sustainable, prosperous, inclusive island that also maintains its distinctive Cuban character?  What can we do to help achieve that vision?

Co-sponsors: MDes Risk and Resilience and the Affordable Housing Institute

Organizers and contact information:

Dave Hampton, MDes Risk and Resilience 2016 candidate, Harvard GSD, [email protected]

Ali Karimi, MArch I 2016 candidate, Harvard GSD [email protected]

Anya Brickman Raredon, Principal, Affordable Housing Institute,[email protected]

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