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Government signs UK agreement to assess climate change risks

Environment 08 Nov, 2021 Follow News

Cayman’s reefs are under threat from climate change

Government, through the Ministry for Sustainability and Climate Change Resiliency, is taking part in a Governor’s 0ffice-funded project to undertake a climate change risk assessment specific to the Cayman Islands. This is being seen as a critical first step in the process to review and update the 2011 draft National Climate Change Policy and Strategy.

The project, which is fully funded through the Governor’s office, will be undertaken by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), an executive agency of the United Kingdom government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in consultation with relevant local government agencies and other stakeholders.

The project will employ a methodology based on the first United Kingdom Climate Change Risk Assessment in 2012 and will identify the highest priority threats and/or opportunities posed by climate change for biodiversity, society and the wider economy. Outputs of the project will include the provision of a detailed evidence report, a stakeholder prioritisation workshop and a final summary report aimed at policy makers and the general public.

Governor Martyn Roper said he was pleased to see the project’s progress and expressed his full support.

“As the world meets to discuss climate change on a global scale, I am delighted to be able to facilitate the provision of £110,000 GBP in UK government funding towards this extremely important and urgent initiative to help build true climate change resiliency for the Cayman Islands which is supported by informed national policies. This forms part of the UK/Cayman Climate Change/ Environment Partnership Agreement which allows for collaboration in areas such as biodiversity, disaster resilience and renewable energy,” he stated.

Over the next few weeks, Cefas will begin its review of published evidence on climate change impacts for the Cayman Islands and Caribbean region as a whole and will produce an evidence report in March 2022. The report will describe the current available knowledge on climate change impact risks that pose the greatest threats to communities and sectors in the Cayman Islands, such as fisheries, tourism, coastal infrastructure, agriculture, settlements and inland infrastructure, to identify an initial ‘long-list’ of risks and/or opportunities.

Cefas CEO Neil Hornby, who is attending COP26 in Glasgow, said they were pleased to work with the Cayman Islands to help carry out a risk assessment exercise to be used to update the national climate change policy and strategy, having undertaken similar exercises in other parts of the world.

“Cefas scientists will work with experts in the Cayman Islands to prioritise the most important climate change risks. Once these risks have been identified, measures can be taken to reduce impacts on the environment and people of the Cayman Islands,” he said.

In the second quarter of 2022, a workshop will be held with key stakeholders from the Cayman Islands, and regional experts on climate change in the Caribbean who will be asked to score and rank the long list of risks and opportunities separately for each of the three islands recognising their individual geographies, social and economic contexts. Following the workshop, Cefas will produce an overall prioritisation for the Cayman Islands, essentially a ranked list highlighting the most important and pressing risks, which can then be used to inform the new Cayman Islands Climate Change Policy and Strategy.

Premier and Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency, Wayne Panton, said the agreement was a major step forward towards building climate change resiliency for the country. COP26 could be one of the most significant gatherings of the century for the entire planet, he said.

“The time for the nations of the world to take action to make meaningful cuts in greenhouse gas emissions is now. The future of our entire planet, but especially small islands like Cayman, depends on this,” the Premier said. “From a local perspective, we also need to do our part both in terms of reducing our own emissions and, perhaps more importantly, taking urgent steps to ensure that we are in the best position to adapt to the wide range of impacts across all sectors of our community that will arise as a result of continued warming of the Earth. We are therefore very grateful to the Governor’s office for connecting us with Cefas and providing the funding for the risk assessment so we can not only bring our Climate Change Policy and Strategy up to date, but to also do so from the most informed position possible.”

A final report will be produced by Cefas in September 2022 describing the risk-assessment process and containing the prioritised risks. This will be in the form of a short summary, non-technical document that will be made available to the public.

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