Green vision begins to emerge for Cayman

| 23/01/2019 | 44 Comments
Cayman News Service

Mario Rankin, one of the organisers of the Vision 2020 event, with CIS student Richard Weber

(CNS): With the coming together of several environmental activist groups at the weekend, it is becoming clear that a genuine green movement is now emerging in the Cayman Islands. The grassroots organisations include the campaign to trigger a people’s referendum on the cruise berthing project, the movements to save specific areas like Smith Cove and now Barkers, the work of the long-established Concerned Citizens group, which is focused on beach access rights. They are all now part of a growing awareness locally, across generations, that conserving the environment and changing the way we approach development and growth must be part of the Cayman Islands’ future. 

More than 200 people visited the South Sound Civic Centre for the Vision 2020 event on Saturday, which was described as a “huge success” by organisers, where presentations on a range of interconnected environmental and social challenges were discussed among a diverse cross-section of Cayman society.

Young and old, Caymanians and expatriates, all of whom want to see a more sustainable future for the islands, came together to discuss how the environment and the protection of Cayman’s natural resources needs to be at the centre of Cayman’s future.

Mario Rankin, who is one of the lead organisers of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign, said the event was a signal that a local green movement is emerging. The activists, volunteers and supporters of what have until recently been disparate groups, often working in silos, are beginning to see the common ground they have and are finding ways to successfully work together.

“Everyone has similar concerns in terms of the impact of each project on the environment,” Rankin said, as he pointed to the need for people to come out and raise their concerns about environmental issues as it is the cornerstone of the Cayman Islands’ tourism product.

“This is a foundation for groups to get together to work for a common good, from the port to the dump,” Rankin added, as he pointed to what he believes is the beginning of a future political movement that will put the environment at the centre of policy making.

The connections between the environment and wider society were underpinned throughout the day’s presentations during a well-organised and coordinated event, where the public discussed potential policy for the future, largely in the absence of politicians.  There was no representation at the event from any ministers or even backbench MLAs from the Government of National Unity.

However, Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller was in attendance and he spoke about the need for more participatory democracy, such as the gathering Saturday, something he has championed through his own political career.

“Democracy in its truest sense is absolutely dependent on this dynamic two-way flow of vital information. Regrettably, this type of sharing has become an increasingly rare practice among those whose duty it is to initiate this type of engagement,” he said in a short statement to the audience. He criticised the current administration for operating too much behind closed doors, fuelling concerns about corruption.

“It is undeniable, therefore, that at no time in our history has it been more important for each and every one of us to do what we are doing this afternoon — stepping forward, standing up and speaking out. This is encouraging, as this is what participatory democracy is all about,” he said, as he urged the people to exercise the power they have and take advantage of it, such as engaging in the planning department’s review of the development plan to signing the referendum petition.

Miller said the road to full participatory democracy was not an easy one. “But nothing worth gaining is ever gained without hard work and steadfast courage,” he noted.

The afternoon was largely dominated by people in the community who have not been elected to office but have been fully engaged in important grassroots fights.

Michael Myles, a local education expert who spent many years in government and has been fighting for ways to prevent Cayman’s young men, in particular, from falling into crime, also drew connections between criminality and issues surrounding development, economic growth and the loss of heritage.

Myles warned that more growth and development would drive further social issues and said government cannot buy or arrest its way out of crime and poverty — challenges that are already costing us more than a quarter of a billion dollars every year.

Cayman should not be looking at investing in costly development projects that do not benefit its people when the education system is broken, when we are not fixing families, when there are such high levels of poverty in this well-developed economy, and when indigents and the elderly are unable to afford health insurance, he said.

Myles pointed out that a persistent problem with governments is that elected leaders don’t ever want to hear the opposing views or listen to reality checks. Having spent two decades in public service, he said he found that politicians only want to hear that everything is fine and choose to ignore the truth when things don’t look so rosy.

There were also discussions at the event on the proposed cruise berthing facility, the ongoing battle for beach access, and the latest threat to Barkers with Handel Whittaker’s application to remove turtle grass (featured on the CNS podcast, Listen Up!).

The successful campaign, Save the Cove, was also highlighted. This resulted in the purchase of Smith Barcadere with public money, saving it from development and, due to the public’s efforts, persuading the government not to add too many facilities and to leave it largely in its natural state.

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute also presented the preliminary findings of a major study that the organisation is about to publish showing how coral reefs have decreased in Cayman over the last 20 years.

Although climate change and other global issues that we have little control of have had a detrimental impact on reefs around the world, there are policies that can still be adopted to protect reefs locally and maintain what is left. Katie Correia, who was representing CCMI, told the audience that, at the very least, coastal development needs to be limited because of the detrimental impact of sedimentation and runoff.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (44)

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  1. CIG-RedTapeOverMyEyes says:

    I am an ex-pat living in Cayman having invested over three million dollars in real estate to qualify to be a long term resident. Along this path, I will eventually be positioned to receive a Caymanian Passport and then a BCOT one as well.

    For the most part, I would say I am a reasonably intelligent person who has always taken part in public discourse. Until now. Now I keep my lips shut for fear the government will find something to disallow my permanent residency and eventual Caymanian Passport.

    This is just one way the current government, which by the way, is the most corrupt government of all time in Cayman, tamps down the voice of the people.

    In a worst-case scenario I, along will most of the other wealthy ex-pats can simply pick up my toys and leave for a better place to spend my retirement years.

    In that same scenario, what will born and bread Caymanians do? Those who can, those who have the strength, knowledge, heritage and resolve, need to step up to take out the corrupt, secretive government sooner, rather than later.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What our dinosaurs in the Legislative Assembly, save for a few, fail to realise – the future concerns of the Cayman electorate will be very different to those of yesteryear.

    The South Sound meeting was an inspiring event.

    I have long supported a call for a Referendum on the port and am pleased to see the energy behind the preservation of Smith Cove and Barkers Beach.

    Personally, I am not convinced by the biased “science” and media coverage as it concerns anthropogenic global warming (conveniently switched to “climate change” when the original hypothesis was proven to be rubbish, but I diverse) – however, I am strong proponent of recycling, renewable energy, and most of all – sustainable development…which in many instances translates to; non-development.

    Here’s to a brighter, cleaner future for Cayman.

    – Whodatis

    #cruiseportreferendum #section70 #haveyoursay #signthedamnpetitonalready

  3. Anonymous says:

    What noone seems to understand that the Dump could really dampen Cayman “success”. Stray dogs, rats, chicken etc. could start an outbreak of some unknown to science disease that could be brewing in the womb of the Dump. Life as you know it could be gone overnight. You have no means to contain such a disaster should it happen. Other countries could just quarantine the Cayman.
    A doomsday scenario that is not just probable, but quite possible.

    • Anonymous says:

      Especially the rat problem

    • Anonymous says:

      “Almost 40% of the world’s waste ends up in huge rubbish tips, mostly found near urban populations in poor countries, posing a serious threat to human health and the environment ”
      Congratulations to the Cayman Islands! You fit in perfectly.
      Drop ALL initiatives until you transition into a civilized country category.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you just watch Birdbox by any chance?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone filed an injunction against the MoT and this illegal bidder selection process? Where is the petition for enactment of SIPL law? How does forming a Green Party for 2020, or watching movies in a civic center accomplish anything?!?

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 3:45. Sooo many questions? Why don’t you get off your but and action some of your own suggestions.
      They are all actionable by an individual like you who has these concerns but do not want to to be associated with a “Green Party” or “gather at a civic center with like minded people……. or watching a movie.

      I do not think the message on Saturday was “If you don’t agree with us then do nothing!”

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m just a witness to the incomprehensible voter apathy. This corrupt regime will stage an announcement of “winning bidder” next week and put into action the rest of the file-papering exercise…not countered by the only segment with authority to do so.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are still trying to save their culturally relevant road.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Unless these political hopefuls are going to take immediate action to organize existing electorate to push for full transparency and good governance, they need not call themselves anything, and should keep far away from this polarizing issue to avoid contaminating it into something it’s not. Full transparency, and enactment of SIPL, will expose all of the truth and give public servants the confidence to start blowing their whistles. We have about a week left before Cabinet announces “winning bidder” on a project that hasn’t even been formulated yet! It doesn’t get more corrupt than this!

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a real joke. Given the players involved I predict this group will last no more than 6 mths. Watch the infighting and break up.

      Folks you need a name for your group. How about

      I I
      M Must
      P protest
      L loudly
      O or
      D do nothing
      E every day

    • Anonymous says:

      I will never understand the logic or rationale behind Cayman’s general approach to persons who are active in the community…

      CNS: The rest of this comment is posted here: Slapping down political discourse

      • Anonymous says:

        Huge Applause!!! ??????????

      • Anonymous says:

        Greenies miss that the economic premise for the Port has been disproven, so even to greedy capitalists this doesn’t make sense. Unify everyone, all categories, and initiate something with legal authority to stop what is in-motion. That’s how you get elected – and maybe before 2020.

      • Anonymous says:

        I wish more people like you would comment on CNS. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    its a pity that there are so many ignoramus and greedy people out there.

  7. Better Public Schools! says:

    Kudos to Michael Myles for calling attention to the ridiculousness of pouring hundreds of millions of tax payer money into a cruise berthing facility, while the public school education system is churning out under educated graduates who are unable to compete for even low income earning jobs in their own country.
    The sitting government is currently running ads on the radio saying that it is “government’s responsibility to create opportunities for Caymanians”. Well, if the Government wants to create opportunities, stop handing out fish and start teaching Caymanian public school students how to fish! The public school system is a farce. Poor exam results, poor student and teacher performance, graduates not meeting the standard levels of reading and writing, yet being graduated anyway. These unprepared Caymanians are competing with foreigners for low income jobs, and the foreigners are coming with university degrees!
    Stop blowing smoke Government! Put your efforts into fixing the education system in this country so our children can fend for and feed themselves. We have enough Caymanians begging for money on the streets! How many more of your people do you want to see unable to support themselves in their own land??

    • Anonymous says:

      I worked with Michael when he was at the Ministry. He is a lion heart. He has a strong understanding of the issues faced by Caymanian youth, and he knows what is needed to help at risk youth become successful members of society. Hopefully he will be in a position where his knowledge will be able to effect change for Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      Education is a two way street. All of the issues are not caused by the public education system. Most are caused by a lack of parenting and by persons creating children that they cannot, or will not, look after. When the term baby mother/daddy is used then it can almost be guaranteed that the prospects for the child are very low.

      Free condoms or maybe Free sterilization for those who choose to abdicate their responsibilities. Take your pick.

      • Anonymous says:

        Downvote for you. What you say is true but we still NEED BETTER EDUCATION for our children!!!!!! Being educated leads to better choices!!!! Being educated gives you hope of a better future than your parents!!! Being educated gives you choices and options!!!!
        And THAT is more important than a dock.
        Now. How about that!

      • Better Public Schools! says:

        @ Anonymous 4:37 pm. You are right in some respects, but you are dead wrong on others. Yes, there are too many babies having babies here, but that is typical in every country, particularly for people of low income. High pregnancy rates, unemployment, crime and drug use are all typical amongst low income families in every country. This leads to a cycle of repeating itself through generations of families. What breaks that cycle? Education. A single family member with a higher education can have a huge impact on the entire family. It sets the tone for other family members to follow. It shows other family members that there is indeed a way out of their circumstances. Above all, family members who are educated to university level and earn higher incomes can provide support to other family members when they need it. Not support as in hand outs. Support as in having the free time and capacity to assist with homework, providing guidance for career and education choices, acting as a mentor, assisting with tuition and housing so higher education can actually be sought and achieved. The difference between success and failure in many aspects of life is support, and only those that are able can provide support. We see that here in Cayman with many families who were once poor and are now thriving.

        Better public education should be this country’s number one priority! First priority of the public and first priority of the government. Only then will we see crime rates fall, unemployment eradicated and lives improved.

        Certainly, public education should be a higher priority over a cruse berthing facility.

        • Anonymous says:

          The poster was not saying anything about the port being more important than government schools.

          Also, the cruise association and our cruise passengers are not going to pay for schools. This is not an opportunity cost situation.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Pity the only green our politicians are interested in is $.

  9. Anonymous says:

    So the same 25 people can sit somewhere else and bitch to each other and again solve nothing?

    • Anonymous says:

      …and post negative comments on CNS all day long

      • Anonymous says:

        As opposed to what?
        Setting up an entire government office that only publishes positive news
        or threatening to pull ads from local media if they write negative but factually correct articles about the government

        If you don’t want to see the news
        I have a suggestion
        Don’t go on news sites
        Just go about your day being the sheep you are

        • Anonymous says:

          Breaking news, hot off the presses of the Cayman Islands Government:

          The Governor has a ….. NEW INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

          I shit you not that was included in today’s government “news”

          I’d rather be unemployed than sell my soul to suffer the indignity of reporting that “news”

          As the MLAs say:
          “Keep em dumb, keep em under our thumbs”

  10. Anonymous says:

    We need to do something about the rat problem. They have been appearing more and more recently.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to everyone involved more please

  12. Anonymous says:

    Historic event Cayman needs more of this to help educate the people.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Quit all the frigging yapping and fix the damn dump!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great event needs to go district to district. Good information shared and some real hard truths told about development projects and the port project in particular. More people need to get involved.

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