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Responding to Climate Change

Minister of Environment the Hon. Mark Scotland (front, centre) met with participants of Cayman Third National Climate Change Workshop.

Beach erosion, reef and fisheries decline, rising energy, food and water costs and higher insurance premiums are listed in Cayman's climate change strategy as the foremost impacts requiring attention.

These priorities were established by members of Cayman's National Climate Change Working Group and sector specific public and private sector stakeholders at the recent National Climate Change Strategy Workshop. Climate Change issues affecting Cayman had been identified in January through previous stakeholder consultations and these issues were ranked at the workshop according to four different indicators of importance to prioritise them.

In addition to setting national priorities, participants also discussed possible policies to address these issues, as well as an outreach campaign to obtain public input before drafting a Climate Change Green Paper, early next year. This Green Paper will be used to formulate the Draft Climate Change Strategy.

Addressing participants at the end of the workshop, Minister of Environment the Hon. Mark Scotland said, "Although much more work needs to be done, Cayman has taken a big leap forward in arriving at a climate change plan that lists priorities as well as possible mitigation and adaptation strategies and policies."

He warned however that many other problems are vying for people's attention, and communicating the strategy to the public will be a key factor in obtaining feedback and acceptance.

"For me, one of the best ways we can get climate change on the national agenda is to focus on the myriad opportunities it presents to all sectors," he said.

Some of those opportunities highlighted at the workshop include a regional branding initiative wherein Caribbean nations sign up to become carbon neutral tourism destinations; diversifying into a 'green' economy and reducing living costs through alternative energy sources.

"None of us living here can claim that we will be able to escape the impacts of climate change, and so I hope that the final strategies will include practical targets to involve the entire population," the minister concluded.

The workshop was funded by the UK Department for International Development as part of the Enhancing Capacity for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Caribbean UK Overseas Territories (ECACC) Project. This project is managed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

Visiting experts were Dr. Neville Trotz, CCCCC science advisor; Judi Clarke, CCCCC public outreach specialist; George de Romilly, an environment law expert; and Ottis Joslyn, national coordinator of the Implementation of Adaptation Measures in Coastal Zones Project, also managed by CCCCC.

For more information on Cayman's sustainable development initiatives go to http://www.doe.ky/about/sustainable-development-unit/

For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver