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Island Nations and Sustainability: The Cousteau Legacy at the National Trust Conference

Local News 28 Apr, 2022 Follow News

Island Nations and Sustainability: The Cousteau Legacy at the National Trust Conference

By Georgia Austin


The National Trust of the Cayman Islands commenced its weeklong celebration of its 35th anniversary on 19 April, with the National Trust Conference Day at the Marriott Hotel. Members of the public, industry leaders, and high school students were invited to learn from and engage with a variety of panelists, including a keynote speech from deep ocean explorer and environmentally conscious business strategist Fabien Cousteau.

Encompassing the conference theme of ‘Legacy’ Fabien Cousteau inherited his passion for research surrounding human-ocean connection, biodiversity, and marine life from his grandfather, famed explorer and educator Jacques Cousteau.

Fabien Cousteau’s zoom presentation advocated for a bridge in the divide between socio-economic need and environmental sustainability, acknowledging the importance of the ocean in the livelihoods of those existing in the closed-loop system of the world, specifically island nations.

Fixed in this closed-loop, Cayman acutely experiences the crippling effects of plastic pollution, overconsumption of natural resources, and climate change. Whilst these effects continue to occur on a global scale, Cayman does not have the luxury of time or wider support to combat the threats to the marine habitats and biodiversity upon which Cayman’s economy hinges. The nation’s survival relies on local policy and infrastructure.

Premier Wayne Panton, Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency commented in his opening speech, “The PACT Government is committed to taking a sustainable approach for the social, environmental, and economic value of our islands.” Panton emphasised the need to “balance protection, and conservation of the natural environment with the need to develop some of the natural environment for social economic purposes.”

With island nations being “the frontline benefactors from the results of our decisions,” Fabien Cousteau highlighted that it is also the nation’s responsibility to “lead the way for a better tomorrow”.

Crediting every other breath that individuals breathe to the ocean, Cousteau referred to marine ecosystems as humanity’s “life support system” and acknowledged the work of the National Trust in its role as a significant educator on Cayman’s natural environment saying, “Investment in these programmes is an investment in our future.”

Cousteau promoted adaptation, diversification, and education as solutions to the threats on the ocean’s critical ecosystems. Quoting his grandfather, Cousteau explained, “People protect what they love they love what they understand, and they understand what they are taught.”

With a 35-year legacy of conservation, education, and protection, the National Trust embodies the generational sentiments shared by the Cousteau’s, advocating for the conservation of the past, education of the present, and the protection of Cayman’s future.

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