Climate change, plastic pollution, enhanced Marine Parks and a National Conservation Law under review. Our islands face a sweeping array of environmental challenges that could impact quality-of-life in Cayman for generations.
Almost three months since taking up his appointment as Cayman Islands Governor H.E. Martyn Roper, like so many others, is struck by our islands’ natural charms.
“The pristine sand, the wonderful turquoise color of the sea, there aren’t many places in the world that have that sort of combination of beauty,” said Mr. Roper. “That is something which we need to preserve, we need to protect.”
Mr. Roper called climate change one of the defining issues of modern times.
“With climate change you’re going to get more disasters, more sort of freak weather events, so these issues are obviously a concern for people and we want to make sure that we are in the best possible shape that we can be and have policies which help to mitigate some of the damaging impacts,” said Mr. Roper.
He told Cayman 27 the UK supports an expansion of Cayman’s Marine Parks System which was established in 1986 and many say has fallen out-of-date.
“There have been some exciting discussions here about extending the marine parks, I don’t think there’s a final decision yet, but I think that a big change is coming on that which will increase the size of the marine parks,” said Mr. Roper.
With the National Conservation Law under review, Mr. Roper said the tug of war between development and conservation is evident.
“Particularly around some of the environmental issues and the speed of the development and what that does to sort of Cayman’s traditional way of life, the potential harm to some of the things that people value, but I think that from my perspective as Governor, these are issues which are matters for the local government: environmental policy, economic development, these are devolved powers under the Constitution,” said Mr. Roper.
And as the plastic-free movement gains traction in Cayman, Mr. Roper got a first-hand look at the plastic pollution problem at a weekend beach clean-up with Plastic Free Cayman.
“I know that the government that is looking at these issues, and there is a discussion internally going on, so it is fascinating for me just to get into some of the detail of this,” said Mr. Roper.
Mr. Roper told Cayman 27 he aims to work within the limits of his role to advance issues that need attention.
“I think there is a role, often behind the scenes to ensure that, as I said, questions are raised and that priority is given to specific issues and I very much want to do that in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation,” said Mr. Roper.
As chair of Cabinet and the UK’s representative, Mr. Roper does not wield any legislative influence.