Small Islands and Climate Change: Analysis of Adaptation Policy in the Cayman Islands

Wendy Johnston, Andrew Cooper

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Small, low-lying islands are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and development of effective adaptation strategies is regarded as an urgent need. Through an analysis of existing and emerging climate adaptation policies, this paper assesses the climate adaptation response in the Cayman Islands. Despite its strong economic status and several developments in the areas of Planning, Environment and Tourism, alongside a draft Climate Change Policy, the study reveals a focus on symbolic policies and a lack of adopted “concrete” climate change adaptation policies. Although the draft National Climate Change Policy (2011) contains a comprehensive range of substantial policies, none has been formally adopted by the Cayman Islands Government. The practical implications of this situation in the face of climate change-related hazards are assessed in the context of Seven Mile Beach, the most heavily developed stretch of the Cayman Islands coast. Here, the prevailing response to shoreline change is stabilisation and, despite several opportunities to change the situation, recent policy developments have not stimulated changes in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 16 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Funding Information:
A National Climate Change Policy was formulated based on extensive stakeholder consultation (National Climate Change Committee 2011) through the Cayman Islands participation in the ECACC Project (Enhancing Capacity to Climate Change in the UK Caribbean Overseas Territories). This 36-month project was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and was managed locally by the National Climate Change Committee (NCCC), “a multi-agency, public–private sector steering committee”. The draft policy contains important climate change-related objectives, including amendments to the planning and development legislation, increases in setback lines, the ability to refuse development permission based on climate change risks and measures to implement good practice in coastal resource management, tourism and insurance. Although this policy has been finalised, it remains in draft form and has not been formally adopted by the government of the Cayman Islands.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Cayman Islands
  • adaptation
  • small island nations
  • climate change policy
  • Small island nations
  • Climate change policy
  • Adaptation


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