The Chamber of Commerce will include the environment as one of its three major issues of focus during the term of new President Angelyn Hernandez.
In her acceptance speech at the Chamber’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Hernandez said the topic of the environment often falls by the wayside in the Cayman Islands.
‘Too often, this topic gets a back seat and is not given the importance it deserves,’ she said.
Ms Hernandez said everyone plays a role in unconsciously helping to destroy the environment.
‘It is the way we dispose of our waste, the way we do not conserve on energy and the way we waste generally.’
Although Ms Hernandez conceded that the topic was too huge for the Chamber to tackle in any comprehensive way, she noted that everyone can play a role in preserving and enhancing the environment.
‘We can take little steps and so gradually bring awareness to this issue and eventually reach the point where it becomes a goal and a way of life in our homes, our businesses and our community.’
Ms Hernandez said the Chamber will challenge its members to start to consider the role they can play in protecting and enhancing the environmental, and that it would challenge the country’s leaders to move the issue up on their agendas.
‘It is not just the unsightly physical aspect of the issue, it is the health of our country and its citizens,’ she said. ‘It is ensuring we are a country with a holistic approach, [that we are] preserving our resources and being leaders in ensuring our environment is healthy.’
As its first step, the Chamber will draft an environmental charter that encourages members to take decisive actions to protect the environment, Ms Hernandez said, noting that some of the actions businesses can take include recycling photo copy paper and plastic bottles and also disposing of waste oils properly.
‘Armed with healthy participation, we will in turn encourage our leaders to do the same and focus more on what can be done by Central Government by planning regulations; by holding landlords responsible; by giving duty concessions on energy smart products, recycle goods, etcetera.’
Ms Hernandez said the Chambers initiative will include the Sister Islands, which she said have been too often forgotten in environmental programmes started in Grand Cayman.
Other environmental initiatives that will be incorporated into the Chamber’s efforts will include the launch of an initiative in cooperation with other community organisations to erect anti-littering signs and working with the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Departments of Environment and Environmental Health to re-energise the recycling programme.
The Chamber will also develop an environmental policy of key issues impacting Cayman’s natural resources, including beach erosion, mangrove destruction and reef degradation.
In addition, the Chamber will continue to support the Earth Day initiative through its annual roadside clean-up, which will be extended to the Sister Islands, Ms Hernandez said.
Citing an example of a company that is a corporate leader in the area of conservation and environment preservation, Ms Hernandez congratulated Caribbean Utilities Company for its efforts.
‘…CUC not only talks, but they actually do,’ she said. ‘The have adopted international standards in their waste management.’
Ms Hernandez said CUC is audited annually to ensure all waste of its business is recycled or disposed of according to international standards.
‘What they put on Mount Trashmore (the George Town landfill) is very little,’ she said. ‘Thank goodness for that as Mount Trashmore keeps growing higher.’