TEDxHabana 2015: a forum of ideas projecting Cuba's future

Posted: 18-Nov-15 09:15

The second edition of the independent TED talks event took place in Havana on 14th November at the Teatro Nacional (National Theatre). Around 20 speakers participated in the event, addressing an audience of more than 2,500 attendants, covering topics like science, technologies, sustainability, communications and design.

TEDxHabana 2015: a forum of ideas projecting Cuba's future

This Saturday TEDxHabana 2015 brought to one stage a variety of inspiring ideas, experiences and projects exploring the future of Cuba and touching on topics that are barely discussed altogether. For about six hours, speakers and artists performed an amusing show that was intended to update and inspire the audience on the development of society, and also to expose more creative ways for promoting positive changes in the island.

One of the highlights of this edition was the discussion of different projects in the field of agriculture, carried out by private entrepreneurs and scientists who are demonstrating the viability of sustainable and ecological practices in this ailing sector of the Cuban economy.

Among those the Santa Marta farm stood out, where engineer Fernando Funes has developed a productive system that can provide fresh food to many private restaurants in the capital. On the other hand, Professor Marlene Navarro leads a team of scientists and farmers that have learnt to obtain biofuel from a plant called “piñón de botija” in the province of Matanzas (112 km from Habvana).

Founded on ecological and scientific principles is also the work of Fabián Pina Amargós, a biologist and director of the National Centre of Maritime Ecosystems (Centro Nacional de Ecosistemas Marinos), who spoke about the challenges in the conservational efforts of sharks and other marine species in coral reefs like Jardines de la Reina, where he has conducted many researches.

Meanwhile, surgeon and oncologist Gustavo Fleites also emphasised the need to consider the principles of sustainability and ecology within the health sector in Cuba. He has brought forth a novel ideal for Cuba: the possibility of creating a “green hospital”, an institution that besides healing, can be respectful towards the environment.

Highly popular among the audience attending TEDxHabana were the stories told by Manuel Raíces, one of the leading scientists of the research group that developed Heberprot-P; the only drug of its kind in the world, which changed the paradigms in the management of diabetic foot ulcer.

Technologies and communications were also at the centre of the conference, given the fact that Cuba is facing now the challenge of a greater openness in the communications sector. Felix M. González and Jorge L. Batista, two young Cuban professionals, demonstrated with several examples the potential of new technologies to create synergies and relationships based on solidarity among youngsters in the Island.

For those who were interested in cybernetics and communications the presences of Bina 48 also constituted a highlight. Bina 48 is one of the most social "personality / identity" robots in the world. It was designed by Bruce Duncan and Martine Rothblatt as a social being which represents a mix of values, memories and beliefs of a real person. Appearing onstage in Cuba the robot talked in Spanish for the first time since she was created.

Mariela Castro, director of the National Centre of Sexual Education (CENESEX), explained how important it is to raise awareness about sexism and other forms of discrimination in the country; a topic that was also present in Lizette Vila’s speech, a filmmaker and social activist that’s also the founder of the Paloma Project.

Other remarkable Cuban stories were brought to the event by the intellectual Miguel Barnet, who spoke about “people without history” as the central characters of his writing. Inspired also by simple people and small stories, chef Alberto González explained how he decided to open a bakery in Centro Habana, were he is trying out a particular business model.

TEDxHabana 2015 also gathered prominent figures in the arts’ international arena, such as Brazilian Vik Muñiz and Spanish curator Chus Martínez, as well as popular Cuban artists like musician Alain Pérez, the choreographer Susana Pous, artist Glenda León and the rumba group Osaín del Monte.

The stage’s design and set-up was created by Ernesto Rancaño and Arles del Río while young designers exhibited their most recent projects in the Teatro Nacional’s lobby, where a free Wi-Fi connection was also set up for the occasion.


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