EU promises countries environmental help

European Union countries with overseas territories will increase funds allocated to biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptations to help these territories solve their environmental problems.

This was one outcome from a five-day international conference on climate change and biodiversity loss held early July on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, states a press release.

Representing the Cayman Islands Government, Director of Planning Kenneth Ebanks said the conference was a great opportunity for Cayman to discuss strategies for climate adaptation with other small island developing states facing similar challenges.

‘We are all susceptible to the forces of nature. However, their natural resources within SIDS are under threat due to developmental pressures from more developed countries; their cultures are under strain; they deal with environmental problems that were created primarily by the developed world, and their socio-economic costs entailed in being environmentally friendly often outweigh the direct benefits.’

Mr. Ebanks added that at face value, Cayman hardly ranks high as being environmentally conscious, especially in terms of specific legislation and the size of designated protected areas.

‘The vast majority of the overseas territories have more advanced legislation protecting their marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Most are striving to protect a minimum of 20 per cent to 30 per cent of their land area of different environmental qualities.

‘However, in Cayman, further analysis is required to ascertain exactly what and where our most critical biodiversity areas are,’ he added.

Apart from offering financial and technical assistance to deal with climate change, participants returned home with promises of enhanced protection and sustainable management regarding threatened species and habitats. They had also garnered information on promoting energy efficiency; increasing scientific research to compile existing data and make it available to the public and decision-makers; the impact of climate change, and the effective management of ecosystems in overseas territories.

The conference, which concluded on 11 July, was titled The European Union and its Overseas Entities: Strategies to Counter Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss.

The EU’s overseas entities are associated with the six EU member states of Denmark, France, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK. They include territories such as Aruba; British Antarctic Territory; Falkland Islands; French Polynesia; New Caledonia; Pitcairn Islands; Saint Helena; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and Wallis and Futuna.