Local legislators’ agreement to create a climate change policy has been welcomed by Sustainable Cayman’s Linda Clarke.
However, she said any policy developed for the Cayman Islands must not only incorporate a way forward, but also tools to make effective changes to protect the environment.
“While the national sustainable development strategy is under development, importantly, the legislature should also look to enact and implement other legal tools prepared by the experts in the Department of Environment, which aim to manage and protect our biodiversity, including culturally important and tourist-attracting species,” Clarke told the Cayman Compass via email.
She said these legal tools should cover species named in the Turtle Conservation Plan, and ecosystems included in the Mangrove Species Conservation Plan which protect Cayman from adverse impacts of coastal erosion and provide protection during hurricanes.
Both plans have been approved by the National Conservation Council and remain in draft format awaiting Cabinet approval.
A week ago, lawmakers approved a private members’ motion filed by Newlands MLA Alva Suckoo to create a climate change policy locally, and to recommend modifications to the Cayman Islands Primary School Curriculum to ensure the topic of climate change features prominently across all the key stages of education.
Clarke said it was “very encouraging” to hear the legislature recognising the very real impacts climate change is having and will have on “our small island nation”.
She also welcomed Prospect MLA Austin Harris’ announcement, during the debate, that in the very near future resources will be allocated into developing and implementing a national sustainable development strategy, which will include public consultation.
“We look forward to the public consultation process,” she said.
Clarke added that a holistic sustainable development plan which includes issues such as climate change, energy policy, food security health impacts, tourism strategy, and consultation with other regional and global bodies “is long overdue in Cayman”.
She said extensive public resources are available, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development goals for policymakers to help perform risk-based assessments under 17 key areas, or goals, “to derive and implement policy to best mitigate and adapt not only to the threats of climate change but to manage other unsustainable practices for their nations”.
Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour, during the debate, said the issue of climate change will feature at this year’s Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London in March.