Editorial: Dream big, but make it happen

A group of girls play soccer at public beach recently. Photo: Taneos Ramsay

While the dark clouds of the coronavirus crisis still linger, there are plenty of silver linings for the Cayman Islands.

There is no escaping the fact that the pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact for everyone on these islands.

Thousands of jobs have been lost. Whole sectors of the economy have been diminished. Our collective way of life has been affected.

Instead of lamenting what we have lost, the community has energised around the idea of rebuilding a better Cayman.

The focus of our Cayman 2.0 series over the past two months has been to stimulate debate and examine ideas for how we shape the country we want for the future.

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We encouraged people to think big and to re-imagine what the country could be.

The outcome of that process demonstrates that there is no shortage of dreams.

A world-class university and tourism school, a tech economy that is the envy of the region, and a renewable-energy revolution that drives job growth for years to come are on the wish-lists of the thinkers, politicos and business leaders driving the national debate.

We can add reform of public transport, commitment to genuinely sustainable tourism, and a roadmap for education that links academic and vocational programmes directly to areas of opportunity in Cayman, to the required schematics for the rebuild.

The challenge facing the islands’ leaders now is how to harness these big ideas into a coherent and achievable plan.

It is great to dream big, but it takes vision, leadership and serious ambition to make those dreams a reality.

It is encouraging that government, through the Strategic Economic Advisory Council formed by Commerce Minister Joey Hew, has taken the opportunity to do some significant community consultation and draw up a new blueprint for the future.

But the real test of that project will be in the execution.

Many of the goals now being articulated for post-COVID Cayman can be found in the pages of energy policies, tourism plans and workforce-development policies approved and agreed long before the pandemic.

Families enjoy the serenity of Seven Mile Beach on a recent afternoon. Photo: Taneos Ramsay

The trouble is always where the rubber hits the road.

The towering mounds of Mount Trashmore provide a visible and pungent reminder of just how long it can take to get things done – even when there is clear consensus over the way forward.

It is not just multi-million-dollar development projects that have stalled mid process, either.

Some of the ideas now on the table could have been achieved already with the stroke of a pen.

An expansion to Cayman’s marine parks was announced in March last year to coincide with the visit of Prince Charles. It hasn’t happened.

A change to the zoning in George Town to bring new residents and new life to the capital has been proposed for years. It hasn’t happened.

The need for high-quality vocational training linked to the requirements of industry has been highlighted for even longer. It hasn’t happened.

We are fully on board with the National Energy Policy goal that 70% of our power supply should come from renewables by 2037. We are also painfully aware that we are currently at less than 5%.

We are encouraged and enthused about the scope and ambition of the vision emerging for Cayman 2.0.

But this must be combined with the determination and the ability to cut through bureaucratic inertia to get it done.

With an election on the horizon, we hope that it is a strong vision for Cayman and the ability to put ideas into action, rather than personality politics, that will characterise the campaigns.

It is up to our political and business leaders to ensure that the dreams and ambitions of the community harden into concrete plans that can take Cayman into a brighter future. It is up to the rest of us to challenge and hold them accountable to make it happen.

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