DoE director calls for ‘maturity’ in development

| 22/11/2021 | 30 Comments
Gina Ebanks-Petrie on Radio Cayman’s Talk Today

(CNS): The Cayman Islands must take a more mature approach to the country’s development goals and consider the environment rather than just the financial benefits of development and put the best interests of everyone here first, the director of the Department of Environment has said. The apparent short-term profits will easily be lost in the long run as a result of climate change, which is already becoming apparent here in the Cayman Islands.

Gina Ebanks-Petrie has warned that Cayman has very little room to make big environmental mistakes, such as removing acres of mangroves for development. Because it is so small, any loss of natural diversity is difficult to replace.

Appearing on Radio Cayman earlier this month, just after the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) closed in Glasgow, the DoE director noted the increasing evidence that climate change is impacting these islands and said it has been frustrating for her department that advice given by technical experts about how to mitigate the impact often goes ignored.

From coral bleaching to the rising tides that are increasing flooding through the local drainage system, climate change is already having a detrimental impact on this jurisdiction.

“We are already beginning to see in the natural world… evidence of climate change… here in Cayman,” she said, as she noted various incidences of coral bleaching. “When we have periods of high tides, we see ground water which is tidally influenced beginning to bubble up”.

Ebanks-Petrie further noted that “beach erosion is being exacerbated by climate change… and the inability of some of our beaches to have their normal cycle of recovery”.

However, she said that development has played a part in the beach erosion and Cayman must take a more mature approach to the decisions it makes about development, and it is time to embrace a more long term view. As climate change and the damage to the environment are linked, the time has come for Cayman to seriously consider the environment in all of is future development decisions.

“When we make decisions, we need to weigh everything in the balance and not just look at opportunities from a financial perspective. Even things that appear to be a positive may not end up being that way,” she said, as she called for a closer look at the wider parameters of development proposals and how real the claimed benefits are for Caymanians.

She explained the need to retain our natural environment as part of our future resiliency, given the services things like seas grass and wetlands can provide, from sequestering carbon to providing nurseries for marine life.

“We have very little room to make big mistakes. There is not a lot of room to self-correct so when we make decisions to clear acres and acres of mangrove… we can’t go behind ourselves like they did in Florida in the Everglades, where they spent billions of dollars to restore that natural ecosystem,” she said.

See the full interview on Radio Cayman’s YouTube channel below:


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Category: Climate Change, Science & Nature

Comments (30)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The most vulnerable part of Grand Cayman is the West Bay peninsula. The majority of the mangroves there have been flattened for upscale gated communities. They better start planting mangroves back!

  2. Johnny says:

    There also needs to be some maturity in the Running of DOE as well.

    I know of severale highly qualified, professional and experienced Caymanian persons who applied for DOE enforcement jobs recently.

    They however were not hired, but instead expats, with less experience and professionalism were.

    Just as in the Cayman Coast Guard, where severale highly qualified, experienced and professional Caymanians were booted out because upper management, who have no experience or knowledge of that area of work, did.

    Both these entities need management changes desperately. Both are very biased and corrupted.

    But alas nothing will happen because niether Manderson or the Elected have any balls or comon sense.

    • Anonymous says:

      5:38 pm what a shame the Director would recommend expats over qualified Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      They got rid of one expat this year because he raise concerns with training and bad practice. He was a good man and officer and very experienced but badly treated, a true friend of caymanian people.
      Very poor management and to much private business, needs looking at Hon Mr Mandelson.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mrs. Ebanks!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cayman’s “developers” are propped with decades of dark pool war chests of questionably-sourced financial means, which are used to seduce and hoodwink media conglomerates, Cabinet members, government departments, SAGC enablers, and sympathetic judiciary; their spin-master employees, legions of greedy sub-contractors, bedazzled money-centric customers, dedicated law firm departments and their armies of billing lawyers. DoE need to understand the depth and breadth of the problem we have and how it permeates our small society, if they aspire to confront it. It’s not just the “developers” in Cayman.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have a great deal of respect for Miss Gina, however, her very strong warnings in regard to the environment are somewhat diminished by the failure of her enforcement department to actually enforce the laws already in place.
    For too long now our marine environment has been allowed to be systematically destroyed by poaching and unsustainable development. Of course there is an argument for global warming and it’s negative effects, but there is no excuse for the failure of the director to ensure her departments are giving their utmost to negate direct human.
    impact. This is no more obvious than the failure to employ professional enforcement officers who are pro-active and properly trained to act in a law enforcement role. Unfortunately it is quite apparent that this small but vital service is under funded, under manned, under equipped, and obviously failing in its core responsibilities due to poor line management and director oversight.
    There is a no more obvious example of the latter than the failure to ensure enforcement staff are well trained, well supervised and actually involved in their duty for the entire working day. The failings are obvious to anyone that’s had recent contact with this department, from a failure to actually respond to seeing government vehicles used for private work interests. As a citizen that’s very active in local environmental issues, I will take the DoE far more seriously once they get the people responsible for enforcing our laws actually doing their jobs in a professional and efficient manner. If they cannot, then those responsible should stand aside or hand control of enforcement to the police or coast guard.

    • Anonymous says:

      Having met the line management of which you speak, and the asst director responsible for enforcement, I can see exactly where you’re coming from. It is certainly one department that needs a good shake up if we are to get value for our tax dollars.

    • Anonymous says:

      Check out the enforcement of the CPA. It is far worse than that of the DOE. There are numerous applications after buildings are up. Even when they are drawn to the attention of the CPA during building nothing is done.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Overhaul planning laws.
    Cease blind adherence to so-called precedent.
    Make polluters pay.
    Make developers contribute meaningfully to infrastructure.

  7. Anonymous says:

    She should be a National Hero, thank you so much Gina- we need more people like you protecting our beautiful island. I can remember in primary school they taught us the importance of mangroves then tore them down for financial gain we should replant them all around our island.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ms Gina, when there’s true maturity in the room, there is by extension subconscious conformity and self guidance to those around it. When immaturity sets the room ablaze it’s likely to burn until it burns itself out. It seems we’re still waiting for that fire, never mind the embers to be snuffed out. Thank you so much for the patience, dedication, service and moral guidance in an effort to keep the keel under us, – from one fan it is hugely appreciated.

  9. Anonymous says:

    For one. Too many cars on the road in Cayman, need to jack up the duties on cars, (especially those big V 8 engines and second hand cars) , to 100 %. Duties. Old cars pollutes more than new ones and those big engines pollutes more because they burn more fuel.

    • Anonymous says:

      What about large fishing vessels?

    • Anonymous says:

      9:05, please do the research on the contribution of automobiles to greenhouse gases. It’s FARMING.

      The fact is, we should be limiting development on this island, but that means shutting the doors, or jarring at the very minimum, to stop the runaway population growth. BUT I’m sure there are many who would rather not do that.

      We have a responsibility to have a healthy environment, but are no mistake about it, Cayman and ALL small island states, aren’t responsible for climate change. We will just suffer the consequences.

    • Anonymous says:

      How about one car per household like in Bermuda?

  10. South Sounder says:

    What I want to do with the land that I buy should be nobody’s business. Especially the NCC and DOE. Buzz off!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Your post looks trollish.

      Nobody can be that immature.

    • Anonymous says:

      Then you should not be allowed to purchase within these islands if you don’t give a damn about our laws and regulations. We are a small island and as she said, we need to take our environment into consideration. Your property won’t be worth much if a sink hole occurs and takes your property out, now will it?

    • Anonymous says:

      found him guys! the white contractor

  11. Anonymous says:

    This lady better watch out as the high dollar development group will get to there flunkies and have her released or demoted. God Bless you Ms. Ebanks, you are a true Caymanian!

    • Anonymous says:

      Mature and PACT and/or PPM does not fit in the same sentence.

      Just look at that Motley Cru that has been visited on Cayman for the next 4 years. Perhaps 1 or 2 could fit into the maturing category. Other than that, pure chaff, put together by Wayne to feed his ego.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wishful thinking on this island which is all about the greed.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Working for DOE must be like how it would feel to be a eunuch at the Playboy Mansion.

    • Anonymous says:

      At least you could tell your story and people would listen, – so it wouldn’t be like working for the DOE 🙃

  14. Anonymous says:

    Cayman COP’d out of sustainable development decades ago. What’s happening now should not be surprising and what’s happening now is far from indicating positive change.

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