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Survey reveals huge public support for Cayman’s Natural Heritage

Survey results published today reveal that overall, 83.5% of respondents felt that the Cayman Islands’ natural environment was in a worse state than when the Environment Charter was signed 20 years ago. The month-long survey reached over 1,400 people, across all 19 constituencies/districts. It aimed at gauging public opinion on local and global environmental issues impacting Cayman and was framed around the Guiding Principles of the Cayman Islands’ Environment Charter and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It highlights an apparent disconnect between the views of the people/community and decisions made by the Government with regards to development, as 75.8% feel their opinions are not considered and they are not listened to.

Encouragingly, environmental planning and community engagement could be improved as over 90% of respondents support national and neighbourhood plans, with effective consultation processes. This should ensure fit-for-purpose infrastructure and spaces for people, commerce and nature are created in future. Survey results would indicate strong support for the policy propositions set out in the National Conservation Council and the Department of Environment’s document: Seizing the Moment to Transition to a Greener Economy, 5th June 2020. Such support is indeed widespread, with no variation by age, district residency or even immigration status.

The relationship between quality of life and how our environment protects and provides for us, is central to environmental stewardship, or, in other words, how we look after our land and water-based systems. 94.1% of respondents indicate that we should protect traditional farmland and 99% feel that the protection of mangrove wetlands is either important or very important, highlighting the need to strengthen protection for such areas within national and neighbourhood plans.

Leaders around the world agree that a truly sustainable recovery post Covid-19 presents the need for data-driven decisions and policies that are centred on the overall wellbeing and health of a nation’s people, underpinned by a healthy, thriving natural environment.

The results of this survey shows massive levels of support for the protection and restoration of nature. With an election set for April 2021, it is hoped the findings will assist candidates running for office to set ambitious environmental goals and commitments that align with the perspectives of the people of these islands they represent.