The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean about 150 miles south of Cuba and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman with the capital, George Town, on the western shore of Grand Cayman. There are no rivers on any of the islands. The coasts are largely protected by offshore reefs and in some places by a mangrove fringe that sometimes extends into inland swamps. The most striking feature of Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, is the shallow, reef-protected lagoon, the North Sound, which has an area of about 35 square miles. The island is low-lying, with the highest point about 60 feet above sea level. The terrain of Cayman Brac is the most spectacular of the group. The Bluff, a massive central limestone outcrop, rises steadily along the length of the island up to 140 ft. above the sea at the eastern end. Little Cayman lies west of Cayman Brac and is approximately ten miles long with an average width of just over a mile. This low-lying island will be the focus of our case study.
The most recent estimate of the population of the Cayman Islands was 50,209 inhabitants (2010), and more than 100 different nationalities. The population has doubled in less than 20 years. The tourist industry is in full expansion. With an estimated one million visitors a year, the Cayman Islands have become one of the most popular destinations in the world for scuba divers. One of the greatest attractions on Grand Cayman is the world-renowned Seven Mile Beach, which hosts many hotels. The Cayman Islands have a major international financial services industry. The biggest sectors are banking, hedge fund formation and investment, structured finance, captive insurance and general corporate activities. Caymanians have the highest standard of living in the Caribbean and GDP per capita is the 14th highest in the world.
Renewable Energy & Eco Housing
Electricity for most power requirements on Grand Cayman is provided by Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) operating under a licence from the Cayman Islands Government. The Cayman Brac Power & Light Company supplies electricity on Cayman Brac, and has a different rate structure to that on Grand Cayman. Energy is a big issue for Cayman residents. It’s expensive at about 30 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to an average of 9 cents in the continental U.S. with the major factor being the use of imported diesel fuel to power the generators. Less than one percent of the island nation’s energy comes from renewable sources. The geopolitical risk of a conflict or terrorist attack half the world away could result in an interruption of oil shipments to the Cayman Islands with significant damage to its economy. This reliance on a single source of energy, over which the Cayman Islands has no control, is no longer tenable. For the Cayman Islands a transition from energy dependency to energy security requires an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable energy policy. In 2009 the Cayman Institute produced a comprehensive up-to-date background document and literature review with a set of recommendations how to develop such an energy policy but government has yet to deliver one.
Currently, the only renewable energy scheme in existence is the Consumer Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) program agreed between the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) and CUC in January 2009. This program allows customers on Grand Cayman to connect their small-scale solar photovoltaic systems or wind turbines to CUC’s distribution system and receive credit for the self-generated renewable energy. This program was complemented by duty exemption on renewable energy equipment for residential homeowners. Reaction to the CORE program has been mixed, partly due to the absence of net metering. In February 2011 the ERA approved revisions to the CORE program replacing the avoided cost of fuel reimbursement formula with a Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) structure. The introductory rate for FIT will be CI 37 cents per kWh for customers generating renewable energy, which is fed into the grid. The CORE customer will be billed monthly at the normal retail rate (currently at CI 30 cents per kWh) for their total energy consumption and will now be credited monthly at the FIT rate (37 cents per kWh) for the total output of their renewable generation to the grid. At the end of each calendar quarter CUC will make a payment to each CORE participant for any accumulated FIT credit balance on their account.
However, the FIT method now being used is seen by residents as unnecessarily cumbersome, complicated and expensive to install and operate. Net metering is still viewed as the easiest to install requiring no extra meters and no extra interconnects. Power injected on the other side of an existing meter merely slows down by according to the amount injected. If more is injected than what is being used, the meter simply reverses. In addition, general progress on establishing reliable renewable energy sources has faltered. CUC plans to erect a 10 MW wind farm in Grand Cayman have been put on hold indefinitely after the government determined that the wind turbines would interfere with a new $4.6 million early warning weather radar system. In February 2007, the Earl of Wessex led a groundbreaking ceremony for the Cayman Brac Power & Light Company’s wind power project but this also appears to have stalled.
Little Cayman is the least developed of the Cayman trio. With a resident population of less than 170 most of the island remains uninhabited. The oldest original resort, the Southern Cross Club is known for its colorful collection of bungalows and laid-back “barefoot luxury” style. The owner is American ex-pat Peter L. Hillenbrand who has been a leader in sustainable tourism for years and chairman of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute locally based research centre (see IDP section below). The resort tries to keep average daily water use at 20 gallons per guest. All resort bungalows are fully insulated and their water heated by solar panels. Hillenbrand would like to go completely solar but the energy company hasn’t installed meters that calculate energy going back into the grid allegedly because they think it will decrease their profitability.
The Pirates Point Resort founded by Gladys Howard, an eccentric Texan with a flair for art, gourmet food and sustainability was awarded the Queen’s “Badge of Honor” in 2003 for her volunteer work in environmental conservation. She’s been a pioneer here since the ’60s when she turned a sleepy fishing camp into her own personal paradise. Her resort was picked as one of seven in the Cayman Islands to “Go Green”. Actions have been taken to conserve water, install low energy lighting, compost waste food, recycle wherever possible, use biodegradable cleaning agents, use reclamation building materials, source food locally, offer local employment, instruct staff in green practices and conserve wildlife.
Waste Minimisation & Recycling
WISE Cayman stands for Waste Initiatives & Sustainable Environments and was specifically formed to lead a community discussion on sustainable and holistic solid waste management practices in the Cayman Islands. The group emerged out of concern for the 80 foot high and growing mound of garbage in the George Town landfill known as ‘Mount Trashmore’ and the Government’s stated plans to commit the country to incineration as the primary method of dealing with their solid waste. WISE Cayman realizes that there is an array of options to dealing with solid waste, from land-filling, incineration, recycling and composting, and obviously many combinations thereof. One idea that has been very well received by the community is a new purpose-built Eco Waste Recovery Park in a less densely populated area that would include a recycling centre, a composting facility, properly engineered and lined cells for non-burnable waste and a waste-to-energy component. Whilst a multitude of options are being discussed and debated, the common denominator for WISE Cayman supporters is that they believe there is a lot of merit in remediating, capping and eventually closing the George Town landfill. The status quo is unacceptable for a multitude of reasons including, health risks and environmental concerns such as leachate seeping into the North Sound. In June 2011 it was reported the Government had finally reached an agreement whereby the Dart Group will cap and remediate Mt. Trashmore as well as open a new solid waste facility.
The Corporate Green Team Network is also concerned about solid waste in the Cayman Islands and is trying to reduce one aspect of this problem – the excessive use of plastic bags. All the major supermarkets signed up to the Cayman Become Eco-Friendly campaign in 2010 and have now eliminated non-biodegradable plastic bags, of which some 12 million per year were ending up in the dump. Customers are now encouraged to purchase re-usable woven shopping bags, and if they forget to bring them they will be charged five cents per plastic bag, but these are now all biodegradable. In 2011 the Cayman Islands Yellow Pages launched their ‘Yellow2Green’ programme designed to recycle old telephone books into insulation for homes with the intention of keeping 50 tons of phone books from ending up in the landfill.
Cayman Eco help to educate and motivate people of all ages to become more environmentally conscious. Their awards have gone to companies like Cayman Islands Brewery who constantly strive to find ways to reduce any negative impact their operations could have on the environment. They are the only company in Cayman who recycle bottles and encourage individuals and bars to return empties for a CI$2 refund per case. In addition, the water used in the brewing process is treated and then used for washing vehicles and irrigation, while spent grain is given to farmers for cattle feed. Aside from this, little is recycled in Cayman, and unlike most other developed countries, there is no household collection of paper, plastic and glass for recycling. Aluminium cans are one of the few things that can be recycled and can be dropped off at containers located at major supermarkets. A campaign, entitled Impact Cayman, to recycle rechargeable batteries was also launched in 2010 when electronic stores signed up as drop-off points for people to dispose of them. A local developer then agreed to fly the used batteries off the island in his private plane and deliver them to collection points in the United States. Another local business collects, sorts and crushes scrap metal for shipment to Miami in containers.
Water Management & Security
Prior to the late 1980’s the majority of people in the Cayman Islands collected rainwater in cisterns and obtained ground water from individual wells for drinking and other uses. Sewage was disposed off by means of cesspits usually open bottom tanks that would allow the effluent to leak out directly into the groundwater leading to danger from waterborne illnesses. In the 1960’s five fresh water lenses were identified as large enough to be developed for a public water supply. However it was reported as early as 1975 that the thin fresh water lenses in West Bay and George Town had suffered through over use and sewage pollution, so they were not considered viable for commercial exploitation. Unless the rate of abstraction was very restricted, all lenses, in particular the one at Lower Valley, would rapidly disappear as a viable water source. Today the Water Authority gets water from three reverse osmosis plants operated by Ocean Conversion (Cayman) Ltd. The combined capacity is 15,000m3 (4.0 million US gallons) per day in Grand Cayman and plans in place for an additional 9,000m3, the Authority is well able to cope with the peak dry season demands. The desalinated water is treated to adjust the pH (acidity) and disinfected to make sure that there are no harmful bacteria in it. After treatment, the water is stored in six reservoirs, which have a storage capacity of 31,400m3 (8.3 million US gallons). In 1991 the Water Authority completed the Cayman Brac water supply project but to date no work has been carried out in Little Cayman. There are no viable fresh groundwater resources in Little Cayman but one of the Authority long range projects is the construction of a small desalination plant and storage reservoir to provide a piped water distribution system on this island.
Another major activity of the Authority is the provision of public sewerage services along the Seven Mile Beach area. This area has the highest concentration of tourist activity and domestic wastewater from here is collected through the Authority’s sewers and pumped to the wastewater treatment plant in George Town. The original wastewater treatment facility commissioned in 1988 consisted of four large, waste stabilization ponds. However, because of the growth and development along West Bay Road area, this treatment facility was replaced by a state-of-the-art sequencing batch reactor wastewater treatment works, which will meet the island’s needs for wastewater treatment in the long term. Additionally, the Authority is considering further treatment of the effluent produced at this plant for use as irrigation water. The Authority sees water as too valuable a resource to put back into the ground, if re-use proves to be economically feasible.
Extensive Agriculture & Organic Food Production
There are a small number of farmers who make use of greenhouse technology and reverse-osmosis desalination like Errol Watler who produces a variety of crops such as tomatoes and peppers. However, over 90% of food is imported by necessity, which of course, carries with it a carbon footprint. The government is hoping to reduce this figure and agriculture is gaining ground again after a series of practical workshops held around the islands. Another initiative is The Grounds, a new 30-acre multi-use complex located just ten miles from George Town. The Grounds will be completed in phases and is dedicated to the talented farmers and artisans of the Cayman Islands by providing an outlet for everything grown and produced in these islands. Plantation House Organic Gardens is another new attraction that sells its produce at The Grounds farmers market and whose owner also manages Cayman Farms, an information resource for organic produce and agritourism.
The Cayman Sea Sense project was established by the National Trust to help consumers make responsible seafood choices when eating out. The logo for this education program appears on the menus in participating restaurants, all of which carry at least one choice of seafood from sustainable stocks. Locally farmed tilapia and locally caught mahi mahi (dolphin fish) are two of the most sustainable choices for seafood.
Since 1968, Cayman Airways has been operating as the national flag carrier flying to, from, and within the Cayman Islands. Today, the company operates 4 Boeing 737-300 jets and 2 Twin Otter aircraft from their base in Grand Cayman.
Car pooling or taking the bus would help reduce congestion as well as emissions from the number of cars on the roads in Cayman. Cayman Automotive introduced the Caribbean’s first electric vehicles. The GEM car, for example, has a top speed of 25mph and a range of 30 miles on one charge thus making it the ideal way to get around the congested areas of George Town and Seven Mile Beach, where distances are short and speed limits are 30mph or less. What makes GEM vehicles so unique is that they can be recharged anytime, anywhere a 110-volt outlet is available and recharge in approximately six to eight hours. There are now plans to introduce a network of solar panel charging stations in Grand Cayman and tourism businesses on all the islands who want to buy fleets to use as rental cars for visitors. There is also a company who is recycling used cooking oil from restaurants, mixing it with diesel, transforming it into biofuel that will run cars.
Sustainable Tourism & Niche Marketing
A number of resorts and tourism attractions in the Cayman Islands have achieved Green Globe status, a globally recognized certification that sets environmental standards. Further information about these and the islands generally is available from the [[Department of Tourism]] and Destination Cayman. The country’s first green movement protected coral reefs by placing moorings over them. The project has taken over 20 years. There are currently 300 locations that are drift dive accessible. As part of the “Dive 365” campaign, 65 more moorings are being added over the next three years so visitors and locals alike can dive a different spot each day of the year. In January 2011 the ex-USS Kittiwake, a former submarine rescue ship, was sunk off Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach to create an artificial reef. There are 25 different dive operators in the Cayman Islands. Each keeps a log to document dive trips – 6,000 visits per site is the maximum threshold a reef can accommodate before it becomes negatively impacted. Operators meet monthly to share notes and discuss safety, environmental issues, and marketing. They also calculate their carbon footprint and work with the Department of Tourism and Sustainable Travel International to offset their environmental impact. Most dive resorts now use a locally produced 60% bio-diesel fuel mix for their boats and other water sport vehicles like jet skis.
Two of the most popular tourist attractions on Grand Cayman are the Turtle Farm and Stingray City. In 2010 there was considerable community disquiet about a liquor license application for a boat bar to sell alcohol at Stingray City that was granted as it was seen as wholly inappropriate in this wildlife interaction zone protected under the Marine Parks Regulations. Following a demonstration and petition signed by around 400 people, it was hoped that the government would step in to stop the proposed bar or that the Liquor Licensing Board would reconsider. CaymANNature and Cayman Sea Elements both offer guided excursions to Stingray City and other eco-tours around Grand Cayman.
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have their own travel and tourism website. On Little Cayman, scuba divers enjoy some of the best diving in the Caribbean. Bloody Bay Wall begins at a shallow depth of 18 feet and falls away to the abyssal depth of 1,000 feet. There are ample opportunities to swim, snorkel and kayak as well as great fishing for bonefish and tarpon. A nature lover's delight, Little Cayman is home to the largest known breeding colony of red-footed booby (5,000 pairs) in the Caribbean, a healthy population of frigate birds and the endangered West Indian whistling duck. The 203-acre Booby Pond Nature Reserve is a RAMSAR site and has an interpretive centre with elevated observation deck where visitors can use telescopes to observe the booby rookery. In addition to birds, a turtle project has been undertaken and over 2,000 endemic rock iguanas inhabit the island. Male iguanas can grow to a nose-to-tail length of five feet and weigh as much as 30 pounds. These iguanas are greatly protected and you will see road signs that say "Iguanas Have the Right Away" or "Iguana Crossing”. Nature Cayman is a guide to the ecology of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. There are two museums in Blossom Village. One houses more than 150 years of primitive relics, artifacts and kitchen utensils belonging to early settlers, as well as exhibits recalling Bloody Bay. The Marine Museum pays tribute to the many sea captains who called the Cayman Islands their home and offers a glimpse of their colorful past.
Biodiversity & Protected Areas
Cayman biodiversity is relatively limited, given that the species and habitats are similar to those of neighbouring Cuba and Jamaica. That said close to 75% of the reptiles found in Grand Cayman are native including the endemic blue iguana, the blind snake and the land boa. The dominant vegetation consists of dry sub-tropical forests and mangrove swamps. The humid Central Mangrove Wetland, which stretches over an area of 3.400 hectares, is the only well preserved mangrove patch on Grand Cayman. However, Little Cayman still has 40% wetland coverage on publicly owned land. The reefs and mangroves protect the islands from storms and erosion while the seagrasses act as nurseries for numerous species of fish. There are 226 species of birds in the Cayman Islands, among them 50 species of nesting birds and 170 migratory birds. The swamplands of Little Cayman are an important stopover for many migratory species. There are 415 plant taxa thought to be native to the Cayman Islands, including 29 endemics. A recently published Red List has identified 46% of the native flora to be threatened with extinction mostly as a result of habitat loss.
Legislation has been enacted in the Caymans to protect marine areas and sites important for the conservation of animal species. Approximately 5.5% of the land area is now protected. This includes 138 ha protected as animal sanctuaries and approximately 656 ha of National Trust properties. The Cayman Department of Environment has responsibility for environmental monitoring, administration of marine parks and environmental issues relating to development. The DoE established a marine park system in 1986 when their key concern was protecting the reefs from anchoring and is currently undergoing its first comprehensive scientific review with the ultimate aim to support its expansion. A new National Conservation Law is also in the process of being drafted.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands was established in 1987 to preserve the historic, natural and maritime heritage of the islands. Its activities include the acquisition and management of land for conservation purposes, the management of species conservation projects and the provision of advice on conservation matters. Their properties include a 277 ha site in the north east of Grand Cayman and the Salina Nature Reserve, which incorporates about 125 ha of swamp. In December 1991, ownership of a 40 ha woodland site on Cayman Brac important as a nesting area for the Cayman Brac parrot was transferred to the Trust by the Nature Conservancy. The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park was officially opened by the Queen in 1994. It covers 24 ha and is jointly owned by the Government and the National Trust. A Virtual Herbarium is also the responsibility of Trust. Cayman Wildlife Rescue is another program of the National Trust tasked with the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife for release back into the wild. In turn, they work closely with Cayman Wildlife Connection who have a particular interest in bat conservation and help fit bat houses on utility poles to serve as new roosting sites.
High population growth and the rapid expansion of the tourist industry have greatly weakened the ecosystems of these islands. Whilst the recent Ironwood Forest campaign to prevent a road going through the last remaining fragment of Old George Town dry forest in Grand Cayman was successful, habitat destruction is still the biggest threat to terrestrial biodiversity throughout the territory. Historically, the native forests were exploited for their wood; more recently urban development has resulted in damage to a large section of terrestrial ecosystems and wetland areas of Grand Cayman. Wetlands are still subject to large-scale clearance to make way for tourist developments, particularly along the western peninsula of Grand Cayman. Despite sound policies for the designation and regulation of marine protected areas, 80% of the reefs of the Cayman Islands are threatened by over-fishing (especially for conch and rock lobster) and by abusive use by divers, but also by coastal development. In 2010 a team of NOAA marine researchers visited the Cayman Islands as part of a global research project examining the importance of organism diversity to the resilience of coral reefs. The researchers installed three Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) close to reef systems on the western side of Grand Cayman. The sites chosen are already part of the DoE’s reef monitoring programme where coral cover, fish biomass and the presence of large invertebrates such as shrimps, crabs and lobsters are being measured. This special equipment however, will measure the creatures that are not easy to see as they are hidden deep within the corals on the reefs.
Invasive alien species settle and develop rapidly, thereby preventing the survival of indigenous species, primarily in protected areas. A report by the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) recorded more than 100 exotic species of flora and fauna in the Cayman Islands. The green iguana has been deemed an invasive species and laws have been changed to remove previous (unintended) protection that they received. The JNCC has allotted £60,000 in funding for initiatives to check the invasion of Indo-Pacific lionfish in the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The experimental use of genetically modified sterile male mosquitoes for dengue control in the Cayman Islands caused an international stir in 2010, with the British company Oxitec being accused of carrying out the field trial surreptitiously, and of failing to follow best practice guidelines.
Integrated Development Planning
The Little Cayman Research Center (LCRC) serves as a field research and education station for the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI). It offers excellent facilities such as laboratories, a classroom, library, private and dormitory-style rooms that may be booked for use by groups or individuals. The centre comprises a series of connected pavilions and one, the Bath House, is the first sustainably designed building in the Cayman Islands. Features include passive solar hot water, LED high efficiency lighting, composting toilets and gray water garden. The CCMI has published a series of Green Guides to the Cayman Islands to help people understand the threats coral reefs face and things that can be done to protect them.
The CCMI was founded in 1998 and its team of marine scientists completed the first and largest regional expedition to understand the distribution and structure of the reef communities around all three Cayman Islands. This study continues to be a reference for current and future research. The CCMI goal is to better understand what is causing the decline in the health of Cayman reefs and what could contribute to a more resilient reef. In addition, partnerships with institutions such as the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to manage the Little Cayman Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON) station makes CCMI part of an important international program that provides real-time oceanographic and weather data to help scientists better understand the effects of climate change and stresses on reefs globally.
Little Cayman is an important reference site for research and will be relevant to understanding the effects of stressors on coral reefs. Over half the island consists of marine-protected areas and the water quality is excellent. There are over 350 species of fish, 37 species of coral, and shallow lagoon, wall, and deep ocean habitats all within swimming distance of each other and the LCRC field station. The reefs have been part of a zoned marine protected area for over 25 years. For these reasons, the coral reefs of Little Cayman are arguably the best in the Caribbean for research due to the fact that they are isolated from continental and anthropogenic influences and support a biologically diverse and robust community. Little Cayman has no run-off or point source pollution problems and no problem with over-fishing. In addition to a diverse set of oceanographic circumstances, the reefs contain large populations of mega fauna including spotted eagle rays, one of the last spawning aggregations of the Nassau grouper, hawksbill and green turtles, and a healthy shark population - all protected by the Bloody Bay Marine Park authority. This combination of water quality, diverse coral and fish species, and abundance of easily seen large mammals and fish is also why Little Cayman has been rated the top diving destination in the Caribbean many times over.
Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Measures
In 2005, the Reef Ball Foundation, funded by one of the hotels on the island and the Department of the Environment, put together a programme to restore and propagate the corals using artificial reefs. Known as Reef Balls or designed artificial reef modules, they are used to protect a section of the beach against erosion from storm waves. Reef balls, modules made of cement and anchored to the seabed, enable coral to be transplanted and provide an adapted habitat for reef fish. Some 236 modules were installed on Seven Mile Beach before the passage of hurricane Ivan. Follow-up undertaken in 2006 by the Florida Institute of Technology showed that the artificial reefs survived the passage of hurricane Ivan, while some natural reefs did not have the same resistance. Furthermore, the observations made also showed that the modules had effectively protected the beaches situated further back. Numeric modeling from the Florida Institute of Technology was used to accurately determine the optimal height to be used in future artificial reefs to ensure maximum protection. Following the passage of hurricane Ivan, other modules were set up in particularly affected areas. One year later, follow-up activities have shown that the rate of survival of the transplanted corals was very high and the fish populations have significantly increased throughout the area. In addition to protecting the beaches against heavy ocean swell, artificial reefs are also a good way to restore damaged reefs.
Grand Cayman lies largely unprotected at sea level and was hit by Hurricane Ivan on 11-12 September 2004. Ivan’s storm surge completely over-washed the island and an estimated 95% of the buildings were either damaged or destroyed. Power, water and communications were disrupted in some areas for months. Ivan was the worst hurricane to hit the islands in 87 years. Grand Cayman began a major rebuilding process and within two years its infrastructure was nearly returned to pre-hurricane levels. However, any increase in the occurrence of violent weather events would have a major impact on coastal ecosystems and could seriously affect the tourism industry of these islands. Similarly, the disappearance of beaches represents a major threat to the turtle populations that nest there.
The damage to the Grand Cayman coastline caused by hurricane Ivan varied greatly between zones, and in particular according to the presence or not of reefs. There was a strong correlation between levels of coastal erosion and the presence or absence of shallow coastal reefs. Most of the reefs of the southern, eastern and northern coasts of the islands were sufficiently shallow to break the waves and absorb their energy. However, damage to the coast by the heavy swells was extensive in those areas that were not protected by shallow reefs, such as the areas around North West Point, Milford’s Bay and High Rock. The west coast, and in particular Seven Mile Beach is relatively unprotected by the reef due to its greater depth. It was nonetheless spared the effects of hurricane Ivan because it did not receive strong onshore winds. That said, future hurricanes could potentially cause much more severe damage to this beach. The intensification of hurricanes due to climate change is a major concern throughout the Caribbean region. The reefs have an uncontested protective role to play and their protection is vital to the very survival of these coral islands.
A working group on adaptation to climate change led by the Ministry of the Environment was created in 2007 to develop a strategy for adaptation. Among its first activities was the launch of a programme to restore certain mangrove areas on the island. Similarly, an initiative aimed at restoring the coral reefs using artificial substrates was implemented by one of the local hotels – see box section. Artificial reefs play a very important protective role for the hotel’s beaches while the marine fauna that develops on these reefs serves as an attraction for tourists. In May 2009 the Cayman Institute produced a detailed report on sea level rise and its impact on the Cayman Islands. In December 2010 the National Climate Change Committee hosted a workshop to review the Green Paper: Towards a Climate Change Policy. This was the third national consultation under the Enhancing Capacity for Adaptation to Climate Change Project, which will come to an end once a National Climate Change Policy has been developed.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change in the Caribbean. The Caymans-based Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility is the world’s first and, to date, only regional fund to provide earthquake and hurricane coverage in the form of a set payment when disaster strikes. It produced a report in 2010 on The Economics of Climate Change Adaptation in the Caribbean stating annual expected losses from wind, storm surge and inland flooding already amount to up to 6% of GDP in some countries and that, in a worst case scenario, losses could reach as high as 9%, with wind the single largest damage contributor. This is equivalent to the impact of a serious economic recession – one that never ends, the study said. The report’s findings provide a sound economic fact base that countries in the region can use to design their national climate adaptation and disaster management strategies.