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Embracing emerald and verdant wealth

Local News 08 Jul, 2024 3 Comments Follow News

Embracing emerald and verdant wealth

What do you love about the Cayman Islands? It’s a question that beckons polarizing answers: Person A may cherish these three tropical tranquil Isles for their natural beauty while Person B may be privileged to see us as a tax-neutral paradise for business. For both to live in alignment and preserve what they respectively value, and for our community to be resilient, a balance must be struck where all work is positioned within a nested and interdependent socioeconomic model that ensures the conservation of our terrestrial and marine resources.

As our Islands have developed, those who value Cayman have witnessed drastic, heartbreaking changes in the name of progress due to unregulated and unbalanced growth and mismanagement of resources. Our intent to progress must not come with the impact that we are inadvertently working in reverse, to our demise. Cayman’s socioeconomic health matches our coastal health, and that of the verdant and emerald Coastal Lagoon Ecosystem (“CLE”) — coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove wetlands. In years past, our economy was built on resourcefulness and respect of the CLE (think fishnin’, turtling, and providing rainfall for staple crops and silver thatch), which is to say we should be proud to be able to innovate, traditionally inspired social growth methods.

Much of what locals value is disappearing due to the domino effects of resource-inefficient economic growth. Social crises worsen as the environment reacts to mankind’s pressures, which, as opposed to frightening us, should be fuelling citizens to do better — as students, professionals, voters, and consumers. Let’s take a moment to validate that both Person A and B are working to save what their hearts enshrine as the true Cayman; the symptoms of a spurned sentimentality and cycle of grief that compel both to act in the best interests of what they love.

That said, there is a direct correlation between post-industrial era socio-economic growth and the climate crisis. The exploitative status-quo serves few and causes many to reconsider priorities in pursuit of social equity and climate justice. As the waves of change ripple through global industries, many are pivoting their actions to prioritise people and the planet over, but not instead of, profit, recognizing our innate ethical responsibility to care for what we value when we take all our hats off — quality of life, and a beautiful and healthy planet.

Globally, the status quo predominantly affects coastal communities like ours, as the climate crisis leads to sea level rise, coral death, stronger storms, and poor socioeconomic health. Our daily actions add up in every regard, and when we know better, we should do better — our needs and wants can still be met if we prioritize the conservation of our natural and social resources as opposed to restoration after destruction. Guarding the environment doesn’t hurt our economic growth, quite the opposite, as extractive capitalism is inherently unsustainable due to requiring infinite growth on a finite planet.

We know that “the environment is important”, but when we look deeper at what that means in the context of Cayman, it means preserving the species and areas that safeguard our community, economy, culture, and heritage, and honing our resilience to weather disastrous natural weather events. For Cayman, that’s the complex but meek CLE, which can provide for all our needs year-round and reciprocally requires only that we protect it. Money can’t boast the same security, whereas nature has the capacity to provide benefits to all. Natural capital is an asset, and environments like the CLE secure our quality of life and must be equally appreciated and invested in as capital markets. Our mental and physical health, island heritage, protection during strong weather, and a vibrant Cayman Islands year-round depend on us stewarding the CLE. Perhaps you don’t think you can easily transition to incorporating actions that are aligned with your values, however, a little research to implement actions to being as resource efficient as possible, no matter your lifestyle or industry, will tip the balance and translate to a positive impact on our CLE and that which we love about Cayman. Perfection isn’t the goal, progress is.

To answer the initial question, for me, it’s the endless adventures one can get up to in nature: fresh coconut water and tasty tropical produce, my little crocus sack in tow, made possible by rainfall from our Central Mangrove Wetlands — there’s nothing like going gallivanting outdoors in the land of soft, fresh breezes. The elements that make Cayman the unique place it is all have a common factor: they exist because of our natural capital, like our unique CLE — which delivers rainfall, keeps our waters clear, guards our shores from storms, provides food security, and connects us to our maritime history which built these Isles — a different, but equally important, kind of green we should value.


By: Em DeCou — Sustainable Cayman Ambassador

Comments (3)

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Virginia Hobday

09 Jul, 2024

Such eloquently expressed truth. Can government / policy makers wake up to the reality that this kind of rampant development is damaging this beautiful environment irrevocably.

Chris Luijten

09 Jul, 2024

Hi Emily, very well said. GDP growth is clearly the wrong yardstick to measure success and as Sadhguru says, "we all want to expand ourselves, this is a natural instinct. The issue is that nowadays we are trying to expand ourselves in the physical dimension and not anymore in the spiritual dimension." We are praying to futile luxuries such as the newest phone, a new car, indulgent foods etc.
The physical dimension is finite so with billions around the world trying expand themselves in that domain means we are literally eating up all our natural resources, that what sustains us and the life around us...

Robert T Wood

10 Jul, 2024

Beautifully and eloquently expressed EM . I saw an article early today on one of the social sites wherein a visitor of 30-plus years, has written to say they won't be back due to the vanishing beauty of the underwater world, the high traffic volume, and mass construction. Sad but true.
Also worthy of mention is that ALASKA is now going to restrict cruise ships of mass tourism. this follows suit with Spain.