A sea change ahoy

| 26/04/2011

Over the past few weeks and months it has become increasingly apparent that the people of the Cayman Islands are finally beginning to see the need to fight and take action for their rights, heritage, culture and above all their environment. Although I am still a relative newcomer to these beautiful islands, I dare say I have been to more public meetings than most and am in a fair position to judge a sea change when I see it.

While there may be many pressing issues to give the Caymanian people sleepless nights at the moment, from unprecedented levels of crime and unemployment to political shenanigans of almost comedic proportions, the real sea change that I see coming is about, of all things, the environment.

The penny is finally dropping for a significant number of people from a diverse range of backgrounds that it is the natural beauty of Cayman (its people included) that is the real treasure. The recent push against the proposed development of cargo ports, channels, oil refineries or any other major industrial undertaking has taken on a different shape to past moans about development. It’s no longer just about foreigners taking the profits; it is now shifting from profit to preservation.

Ironically, at a time when everyone is suffering economically, the people are not fighting to get a share of what the development pie might offer financially. The public is turning away from the bottom line and recognising that real wealth is much more than dollar signs or an investor’s empty promise.

The Save Cayman campaign, the rejection of the commercial seaport by East Enders and North Siders as well as the decisive action by the women of West Bay in their efforts to protect beach access are all illustrations of a genuine growing movement in Cayman to protect what is left of its precious, but dwindling, natural beauty.

Finally, the green revolution is here. At last the people are now focusing on environmental rights almost above all others. Even at a time when many are facing very real economic hardship and spiralling crime, the real grass roots people-power is emerging against the backdrop of the need to protect the islands’ environment and the people’s access to it.

As a result there is the tiniest bit of hope that the country is ready for the formation of a green party, a political group which will focus entirely on the need to preserve, protect and promote the natural environment, not just because it’s beautiful but because it is the country’s only genuine and real hope of a future.

The green revolution is finally coming to Cayman and it is starting where all good revolutions begin — at (aptly) the grass roots. While politicians continue to ignore the pressing need for environmental protection for Cayman’s natural resources, the people are offering to fight for it.

The politicians have dallied and delayed for too long on the National Conservation Law, fearful of losing powerful investors who still want to manipulate the environment for profit. The people, however, are no longer prepared to wait and appear to be ready to take action to protect what is left of the precious natural beauty.

With the natural resources and beauty of Cayman already so heavily exploited, future threats to what little is left appear to be genuinely galvanizing the people to act. The sea change in attitudes and momentum is there. The issue now is for someone to take the lead and spearhead the formation of Cayman’s first environmental pressure group and take the green fight from the grass roots to the corridors of power. 

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Category: Viewpoint

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well I have thought about the environment for a long time and it won’t work . The problem is that a lot of the problem about it,  has nothing hardly to do with the north sound or the refinery . Its mostly to do with your land your property. But a lot of people who are worried about the environment  are the people who bought across the street from the 7 mile beach like governor’s harbor or snug harbor. Projects like these should be the first projects  that you so called environmentalists should turn back to mangrove swamp IF you really are talking about the truth about being green! We want to be  truthful to our people right? WE WANT to SAVE the WETLANDS. Lets also not forget all those MRCU channels that were cut to get rid of the mosquitoes. They changed the definition of wetlands .When we did that  we allowed the salt water to mix with fresh water in heavy rains. So right away we need to bring that back . Of course this will really bring back those young baby fish cause you really get back the heavy red dye. This will of course will mean less stingray city days for a lot of people who depend on work per year. So when will we bring back the crocodiles?? Then we can really enjoy those walks  in the swamp.  Well do you really want more green ?? Then a lot of people are going to have to move off the island so we can get the bird population back to where it should  be.

  2. Real World says:

    Okay, it’s nice when people get together and show some interest in the environment, but going green means more than taking your reusable bags to the supermarket and having a few clean-up days on Seven Mile Beach; it involves serious governmental policies to engage issues such as recycling waste (yeah, right!), reducing excessive car emmissions (yeah, right, again!), reducing the number of gas-guzzling 4WD vehicles on the road through taxation, reducing the import duties and taxes on mopeds and electric cars — which are currently higher than petroleum vehicles: I mean, what kind of environmentally friendly policy is that!?   Real change will only come from a governrment who listens and who takes environmental issues seriously, and this government does neither.  Make money at any cost seems to be the Premier’s approach to managing this country, with no thought to the environmental and social impacts his hare-brained money-making ventures might have on these beautiful islands  Bush will return from London and continue to ignore everyone — including environmentalists — and go on his destructive merry way.

  3. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    I like this piece Wendy politics as we know it has changed. Somehow it modified itself to maintain a status quo. When we realize we are not part of that status quo – in desperation – we vote for another group of smooth talkers. They have catch-phrases: jobs, education, economic development. We are then told that if they give concessions and sweet deals eventually – some of it will trickle down. I love that term. Reminds me of someone else’s dog pissing on my leg.  And after allowing politicians, on our behalf, to give away the farm and sell out our environment and coming to the conclusion none of it or very little actually got to us: we stop. And think. Mostly about what were the costs? If turning Cayman into a concrete wasteland and a condo village meant a few jobs is that the price people were willing to pay. Is that what they were told? And that’s what people are doing now. Questioning the wisdom. As Wendy said, they are seriously reconsidering what the process of "development" means to them. And, in the long run, what "interests" are being taken care of.  And moreover what will be left for future generations? If all goes according to their brilliant plan there will be nothing: Mangroves are in the way, the North Sound isn’t deep enough, the Beaches are valuable property. All of these are seen as nothing more. Without controls or concern for where it’s all headed a few will become rich. Free to move on to a more pristine place that needs "development." And as we have seen – come back to relax and visit their investment. While the people who’s land was sold tend their gardens and work for them. "Thank you massa." Is that what Cayman wants? If it isn’t do something.

  4. Joe Average says:

    Deeper than that Wendy is a growing awareness throughout the world. People ask themselves this question: "Who owns the land under my feet?" "I do!!" And no matter where they gather together when they have the same concerns they say: "We do!!".  In most cases we have relied on governments to take care of "our" land, it’s resources, it’s well being and they have failed miserably. To those who see no alternative a "green political party" does not just mean one that takes care of the environment. It is a holistic approach, encompassing not just the quality of the land, air and water but a sustainable economic philosophy. We are realizing they all go hand in hand; the days of governments’ mindsets of "clear it, pave it, sell it, and gimme my kickback" are over.

  5. Overseas Viewer says:

    A number of priorities need to be addressed. When are we going to get legislation to stop Predatory Business tactics? One particular entity keeps coming up and we know who they are.

  6. Kerry Horek says:

    Thank you Wendy, you certainly wrote this piece from the dearest corner of your heart.  The environment is also a very important issue of mine, but unfortunately our elected officials some how are blind sided by ‘greed’ and ‘vulture minded’ developers regarding the real issues surrounding our environment.  If we don’t stand for something, we won’t have anything left to stand for.

    Thanks again for putting this out there the National Environment Law is one of the most imperative pieces of legislation that MUST come to fruition.

    The dilly-dallying mentality of those who hold the ‘power pen’ in their hands and can make this change happen overnight (literally) makes me disgusted disheartened considering our beauty, flora and fauna are some of the attributes that attract people to our shores annually.

    We also need to seriously upgrade and modernize the ‘Towns & Communities Law’ to include park rangers to police the beaches, parks etc. and to enforce the law.  If you think the beach is a mess, check the Park over there on South Church Street, the used and discarded drug utensils, alcoholic containers and other disgusting garbage is dumped there.

    Protecting our environment, beaches, parks etc. will be a win-win for everyone.  Too often the good suffer for the bad, and without having protective measures in place for our beaches and how they are used and abused not only by individuals, but by pet owners, and campers as was recently portrayed in the media.  It is as if we are appealing to a person with a hearing disability, but then again that’s usually how it works for 3.5years.  We will have to wait for the last remaining six months leading up to the Elections in 2013 to see any of these issues be passed or put back into the lime light.  This way they can convince the electorate they are doing something.  Thankfully, some of us out here are not as dumb and blind to that fact any longer. 

    Caymanians must unite once and for all, and stop the rhetoric before the ‘ferocious sores’ becomes immune to the antidote. 

  7. rubbish in/rubbish not out says:

     Some things are not meant to be saved,  Some things are not worth saving, and some things cannot be saved.  Saving the Caymanian environment,  the Caymanian people, and the ability for a hard worker to make a living on Cayman will not survive if the current way of leadership is allowed to survive.  who will go first?  Seeing how the environment and the Cayman people can’t fightback I’m guessing they go first.

  8. The Crown says:

    Wendy you are heaven sent!  

  9. New secret admirer says:

    Thank you Wendy for taking the time off your busy schedule to help us see ourselves out of the box. It’s always comforting when someone fairly new to our Beautiful shores can feel our pain ans as you said so well and to notice that our unprecendent level of crimes and unemployment to political shenanigans of almost comedic proportions…. is that we ourselves are becoming unsure of who we really are or what we really stand for. We at times are so overwelmed by it all that we forget what it is we really are against or what we really are for.Thank you for that insight !

  10. Anonymous says:

    Too late!

  11. Anonymous says:

    It’s mainly rich lawyers and their wives or other retirees that are fighting everything.  It certainly doesn’t matter to them what does or doesn’t happen with the economy!

    CNS: Actually at most of the meetings I’ve attended recently its quite apparent that this is not this case. The campaign for change is very much locally driven by ordinary Caymanians struggling to make a living. Fancy ex-pat lawyers have been thin on the ground……Wendy

    • Truthteller says:

      Anon Tue 14;30. A typical ignorant xenophobic comment and I bet Wendy’s rebuttal wont make a damn bit of difference to your bozo mentality.

  12. Jonathan says:

    Dear Ms Ledger, While what you say is true and sound, the environment is one part of a tapestry which makes up the Cayman Islands. There is no doubt that the environment has suffered greatly at the hands of greed and ignorance from both Caymanians and expatriates, developers etc., it is but one column (a very large column of vital structural integrity to the whole "building") which is now and has been under threat, destruction, and danger for a long time. A third party in Cayman will not succeed if that is the only driving force of concern regarding the well being of Cayman. All of these parts come together to make a whole and it is but one of a plethora of subjects which Cayman has to tackle if we are to survive. Let us not forget to see the forest through the trees and vice-versa. A well written letter Mam, I just thought this this had to be said and made plain because the main threat to this awakening of sorts is that those who would destroy it all have an argument which says "they care more for the environment than for people". I do not think that a "green party" is feasible here (I would use Mr. Ralph Nader’s political party in the USA as an example), but the recognition and due protection of our precious environment is as a link in a chain and if one of those links fails then so does the whole chain. All the best to you and all in the hopes of a brighter tommorow.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I sincerely hope that whatever new government is formed (and I really cannot believe one has not yet emerged), it considers the realities of Cayman’s economy and its employment challenges and does not focus ‘entirely’on Cayman’s environment. Yes, we need a change but lets keep the pendulum from swinging out of control.