The Environmental Management Unit (EMU) (formerly the Sustainable Development Unit) was set up in July 2006 to spearhead the formation of a national level strategy for sustainable development. This was in response to the expanding advisory role of the DOE on environmental matters, the Cayman Islands’ commitment under the Environment Charter of 2001 to implement such a strategy, and obligations under various Multilateral Environmental Agreements that require integration of physical, economic, social and environmental development planning policies.
To date the EMU has worked on a number of National Policies and Plans, such as the National Sustainable Development Framework, National Conservation Law, Grand Cayman Development Plan 2008, revised National Tourism Management Policy and the Go East Initiative, National Assessment of Living Conditions study and Public Health Review, the ‘Enhancing Climate Change Adaptation in the Caribbean’ (ECACC) project, implementation of the Climate Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, the National Energy Policy and the National Planning Framework.
The Unit works under the framework of the National Conservation Law (2103) and provides advice to the Central Planning Authority and Cabinet on planning and coastal works applications, and environmental best practices. The Unit encourages pre-application consultations with landowners, developers, architects etc. to discuss development proposals before they are submitted to relevant Government bodies for review.
The Unit contributes to the drafting of species Conservation Plans and accompanying best practice guidance, such as Mangrove Trimming Guidelines and technical advice on Turtle Friendly Lighting.
EMU Staff Profiles
Lauren Dombowsky – Manager
Lauren is a Chartered Environmentalist who joined the Department in 2018 and became Manager of the unit in 2022. With over 10 years of experience in both private sector in the UK and in a regulatory role in Cayman, she oversees and coordinates the Department of Environment’s input and role in the agency consultations outlined in the National Conservation Act.
She also coordinates and manages the Department’s Environmental Impact Assessment functions, including supporting Environmental Assessment Boards. She oversees the Department’s Technical Review Committee’s preparation of technical reports to advise the National Conservation Council, Central Planning Authority, Cabinet, the Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency and any other agencies of the likely environmental consequences of development proposals, policies and actions.
She has a BSc in Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She graduated with an MSc in Environmental Diagnosis and Management and began working for Atkins in contaminated land and water. She later began working in Environmental Impact Assessment for Temple Group. During that time, she completed a Professional Graduate-Level Certificate in Sustainability from Harvard University.
In addition to being a Full Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, she is also a Member of the Transport Planning Society. She was shortlisted as the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)’s Young Environmentalist of the Year 2017.
Jerrica Wood – Sustainability and Environmental Assessment Officer II
Jerrica joined the Department in April 2017. Her background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Integrated Wildlife Conservation and a Master of Science degree in Sustainable Development in Practice. During her undergraduate degree, Jerrica worked with the DoE as a student intern. Today, Jerrica is a Sustainability and Environmental Assessment Officer II and a part of the DoE’s Technical Review Committee. Jerrica’s role within the Department is to assist in the development and implementation of the Department of Environment’s environmental management initiatives and programmes at the department and national level and to assist in the assessment, monitoring and compliance of coastal and terrestrial development likely to impact the natural environment, in accordance with the requirements of the National Conservation Act (2013). Jerrica also serves as the DoE’s technical representative on various inter-departmental committees, assists the turtle monitoring programme and plays a lead role in the implementation of Turtle Friendly Lighting on Cayman’s turtle nesting beaches.
Matt Southgate – Environmental Management Officer II
Matt joined the Department in January 2023 as the Environmental Management Officer II, following 8 years as a civil and structural engineer in the private sector. His educational background includes a Masters of Engineering in Civil and Structural Engineering, and a Masters of Science in Architectural Engineering Design both from the University of Sheffield in the UK.
Matt’s role at the DoE involves the review of development applications and consultations under the provisions of the National Conservation Act. Matt provides key engineering insight to the Technical Review Committee.
Before joining the DoE, Matt took part in a number of programmes as a volunteer including the SCTLD Response Project, Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring, and the Department’s annual Bat Count Cayman.
Leah Grant – Assessment and Compliance Officer
Leah joined the Department as a summer student in 2002 and became a full-time employee after
graduating from the University of Guelph in 2011. Her background is in Environmental Economics and Policy and her role within the Department is to assist with compliance with the Department’s directed conditions and recommendations on Coastal Works and Planning applications, and assist the public and private development sectors in achieving sustainable development. She also assists in various research projects within the department, including the Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring programme, the fishing line recycling programme and the Islands’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions reporting.