Barbados’ Environmental Double Standards

Submitted by Mohammed Degia (Originally posted to Extranewsfeed)

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Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, addressed the UN earlier tonight at its annual General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. This was her 8th time speaking at the UNGA and tonight’s speech was the standard repetitive language one has come to expect from the Minister. It therefore came as no surprise, particularly with the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, that she would mention climate change and the environment.

Ms. McClean delved straight into it, referring to UNGA speeches by Prime Ministers Thompson and Stuart, in 2008 and 2015 respectively, where they warned about the seriousness of the climate change threat and the pressing need for strong action. She noted similar admonitions from other leaders of small island nations and lamented that what we were seeing happening in the region was because “this clarion call from the Caribbean was ignored.” Ms. McClean reaffirmed Barbados’ commitment “to ambitious action on climate change and contended that its “support for global climate change action is a component of its overall policy of promoting and protecting the environment.”

The Minister also spoke about Barbados’ people-centred and inclusive development and the need for the international community to take action to implement the commitments made by all countries in the SAMOA Pathway, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

A few weeks ago, I read a GIS press release which informed that Mr. Denis Kellman, Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, had attended a UN High Level Meeting on The Effective Implementation of the New Urban Agenda in New York and delivered a speech. According to the press release, Mr. Kellman told the meeting that Barbados had put measures in place “including amendments to the Physical Development Plan to ensure that development on the island continued to be progressive, orderly and sustainable”. He also said that “Government encouraged developers to locate housing for seniors close to amenities and services to meet daily needs, promoted the development of new housing which was fully accessible to people with disabilities, and continued to require that new developments and significant renovations in public spaces be accessible to all.” Finally, he threw in the usual jargon about green economy, renewable energy and environmentally-sound waste management and all of their concomitant socio-economic benefits.

The drastic difference between the claims of Ministers McClean and Kellman and the reality in Barbados is such that one wonders if they are speaking of the same country. They both convey the impression of an island in which development benefits everyone and safeguards the environment. I wonder then how do they explain the wilful lack of a comprehensive set of environmental laws in Barbados and the almost non-existent implementation of the few laws that are there. How do they account for the long list of environmental desecration under both political parties that are manifestations of the total opposite of what he told the UN?

Environmental destruction caused by Sandals

How do they rationalise the decision to build a Hyatt right next to one of Barbados’ most beautiful beaches, Browne’s Beach, and the absolute lack of transparency in the entire approval process? What about the chaotic monstrosity that is now Warrens? Are Coverly, Grotto and the South Coast sewage fiasco examples of this progressive, orderly sustainable development? What about Sandals and their decimation of the environment in the area of their resort? The same Sandals that their government has with much secrecy provided massive incentives to at the expense of Barbadian taxpayers. What about Four Seasons and the overnight destruction of trees some years ago? What about Greenland and Cahill? What about the relentless concretisation of much of Barbados at the behest of both parties? Or the fact that much of the coast has been decimated by tourism based infrastructure and one can drive on large parts of the South and West coast of the island without knowing that one is next to the water. That much of the flooding in Barbados is as a result of our insistence on building in a way that destroys natural water courses and a fragile ecosystem. That this is further exacerbated by the Bajan addiction to littering and dumping, especially in gullies. Or that successive government have barely attempted to tackle the dumping problem despite repeated statements every few years about some type of strong action that will supposedly be taken. What about the elephant in the room? The fact that the entire maritime delimitation exercise with Trinidad and Tobago had nothing to do with fishing. That both administrations are dedicated to offshore drilling in the hope that Barbados can “diversify” its economy with oil. The two obstacles to realising this have been finding a willing partner and their own inefficiency, one of the only times government ineptitude can be said to be something positive. The environment doesn’t factor in when there is a thirst for oil! And I could go on listing for pages.

Environmental destruction caused by Four Seasons. Photo from

The two Ministers though are not alone in what they communicate to the international community contradicting what actually occurs at home. Over the years, different Ministers, irrespective of party, as well as government officials have ventured on the international stage and waxed lyrical about sustainable development, climate change and the environment. I used to be one of these government officials, both speaking myself and writing some of the speeches for Ministers. We have talked about our commitment to sustainable development, our vulnerability and the need for the international community to do more to help us including financially. We have championed ourselves as the grandfather of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and a voice for climate action. Yet, at home, we engage perversely in destructive environmental practices. The assertions about Barbados’ devotion to environmental protection are therefore far-fetched. This may be discomforting to hear for those who have bought the story of Barbados and SIDS but it is the truth.

17 thoughts on “Barbados’ Environmental Double Standards

  1. More importantly. .why are yardfowls so scarce, anyone care to guess, even Fruendel has cleared what a thing.

    I dont believe Hyatt will happen, not at that location anyway, but what do I know.

    Someone should go to prison for the 4 seasons scam and thefts of pensioners money…60 million US …

    That 40 years of concessions to Sandals need to be rolled back to 5 years and see exactly what he is offering the island, outside of trying to make the beaches at Sandals properties…. whites only.

    All the other building were cons and scams perpetrated against the taxpayers by ministers and minorities and they should all go to prison for corruption and bribery….

    …..right Carson Yardfowl…., would you agree that prison is looking more and more like a reality,., ah know you know. .

  2. They will say ‘whatever’ to get the loans and after that, it seems; who cares? Public sector payroll is met for the present and the future will have to take care of itself. Watch out Barbados.

  3. Everybody knows that “climate change” and ” reparations” are just rebrandings of the old ” foreign aid” solicitations.

    If you put narrowly educated lawyers of lower class background in power, most of them will never be able to design or deliver a better Barbados than we have today. They don’t understand or value proper land use planning, proper landscape design, proper building design and maintenance, etc. They were not properly brought up, so these refinements are lost on them, even as they plan the next shopping trip to New York.

  4. Below is a list of hurricanes and gales that affected Dominica up to 1836.

    I took from Schomburgk.

    I have put up the entire list for the Caribbean already.

    The list contains a fraction of the hurricanes that have passed our way.

    Hurricanes are a part of our region and have always been.

    The Leewards usually get hit hardest.

    Solving Global Warming if it exists will not help Dominica if History is anything to go by.

    I understand the utter devastation the PM feels.

    We all do.

    All of us need to help in any way we can.

    Blaming the catastrophe on others will not change the fact that Hurricanes pass Dominica’s way many years and some of them are devastating.

    One day our turn will come, so far since 1780 we have only had four major ones in 237 years.

    Compare the list for Dominica from 1766 to 1830, just 66 years.

    We are lucky … is it any wonder we once claimed, “God is a Bajan”

    It is now for us to help our neighbours as we can.

    In 1766, October 6. A severe gale in Dominica and Guadaloupe; five vessels driven ashore. Annual Register.

    In 1787, August 3, 23 and 29. Dominica was visited by three severe gales in this month, which destroyed all ‘the vessels in the island, and blew down the barracks and buildings upon Morne Bruce. Annual Re¬gister.

    In 1806, September 9. A dreadful hurricane in Dominica; 457 persons were killed, and almost every house blown down. Every vessel in the harbour was sunk or driven ashore. Bryan Edwards.In 1809 2 gales July August

    In 1806, September 24. Another gale in Dominica.

    1809, July 27 and August I. Two gales in the West Indies, but more severely in Dominica and Guadaloupe. The Jamaica fleet was dispersed by this gale on the 27th of July .

    In 1813, July 22 and 23. Dominica, Martinique, and St. Christopher’s were seriously damaged by this hurricane. The barracks at Morne Bruce were leveled with the ground, and numbers of persons were killed and wounded, or blown over the cliffs into the sea. All the shipping were driven ashore in St. Christopher’s. Bryan Edwards.

    In 1813, August 25. Another hurricane occurred in Dominica, which was attended by deluges of rain. Bryan Edwards.

    In 1816, October 16 and 17. A severe gale in Dominica, Martinique, &c. During the heizht of the storm in Dominica on the 17th, some shocks of an earthquake were felt which shook the stone buildings to their foundations. The shock was likewise felt in Barbados at a quarter-past ten on the 17th.

    In 1817, September 15. A severe gale in Dominica.

    In 1817, October 21. A tremendous hurricane, which exercised its fury over the islands of St. Vincent, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, &c. General Seymour, the Governor of St. Lucia, with many others perished by the fall of the Government House. The shipping in Barbados suffered severely.

    In 1818, September 27. A severe gale in Barbados. (See ante, P: 51.) It extended to Dominica, Martinique, &

    In 1822, December 18 and 19. A severe gale did great injury in Barbados. (See ante, p. 52.) It was felt in Dominica, Martinique, and Guadaloupe. In the latter island sixteen French and ten American vessels besides coasters were stranded.

    In 1825, July 26. A terrific hurricane in Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Porto Rico. Numerous lives were lost in Basse-Terre; in Guadaloupe, among others, was the Abbe Graffe, Bishop of the French in the West Indies. Six villages were destroyed in Porto Rico.

    In 1830, August 11, 12 and 14. A severe gale at Dominica and Antigua; it extended to St. Thomas’s. It reached Turk’s Island on the 13th, and the Bahamas on the 14th of August. Redfield.

  5. Dominica has been affected by Allen, David, Hugo, Marilyn big names in my lifetime.

    In the period 1760 to 1830 it got hit on average every 3 years.

    From 1780 to present, we got hit badly every 60 years or so which makes us overdue.

    Maybe it is that the seasons every 60 years or so produce hurricanes that are well formed by the time they get to us in which case this and the next few years will be bad seasons for us, and by extension, worse for Dominica.

    I suspect many seasons produce hurricanes that are powerful enough to do us damage but they miss us so the 60 year average may be skewed and an incorrect way of viewing history.

    Used to be a good site on Terrapin going back to the 1890’s or before.

  6. There have been worse hurricanes than Irma and Maria in the past that affected Barbados.

    Deighton Best estimated the wind speed of the 1831 hurricane at 200MPH … no global warming then.

    “The worse systems which levelled Barbados were 1675, 1780, and 1831.

    On August 31, 1675 the hurricane appeared to have passed off the West Coast destroying numerous plantations, especially along the western side of the island.

    On October 10, 1780 a very slow moving hurricane struck Barbados on a Tuesday evening and battered the island “almost without intermission for nearly 48 hours” leaving the island looking like “a country laid waste by fire and sword”, Commander-in-Chief Major General Vaughan wrote to England. There was near total destruction with 4 326 dead and over £1 million in damage.

    Retired meteorologist, Deighton Best, said the hurricane which struck on August 10, 1831 was perhaps the most powerful ever to hit Barbados.

    “I would rate the winds at 200 miles per hour. It left damage at more than £2 million and about 1 525 dead, though the figure could have been as high as 2 500. I would rate this similar in strength to Hugo when it was approaching the Eastern Caribbean,” he told the NATION.

    The 1831 hurricane struck at 5 p.m. and battered Barbados for 12 hours. A writer of the day said the rain “was driven with such force as to injure the skin and was so thick as to prevent a view of any object”. Waves broke over the North Point cliffs which were 70 feet high. Barbados has not seen this kind of activity this century and as a result, a popular notion has arisen that there must be some special providence protecting the island because cyclones do not hit Barbados.

    While this is debatable, there are physical reasons why systems curve northwest, bypassing Barbados and other Caribbean islands. These include the location of the system when it forms, its strength and how rapidly its strength increases as well as other atmospheric factor”

  7. @ Chad99999 September 23, 2017 at 4:50 PM
    “If you put narrowly educated lawyers of lower class background in power, most of them will never be able to design or deliver a better Barbados than we have today. They don’t understand or value proper land use planning, proper landscape design, proper building design and maintenance, etc. They were not properly brought up, so these refinements are lost on them, even as they plan the next shopping trip to New York.”

    Sadly, Chad I can’t contest your sound argument this time.

    The incompetence and downright acts of environmental terrorism being manifested in the administration of these black-managed states especially right on the doorstep of modern Barbados (e.g. Cahill and Hyatt agreement and approval) are sufficiently convincing evidence to say:

    Oui, je suis d’accord avec vous!

  8. @Chad99999 September 23, 2017 at 4:50 PM #

    Agree 100%. You cannot expect from a bunch of figures brought up in a slum that they ever arise. A donkey in a suit is still a donkey. Chris Sinkler is the supreme example that education completely failed in Bim. Free education was not only a waste of money, but even detrimental, since figures like Big Sinck got the ticket for university.

    Golf courses and Sandals are the new sugar plantations, the black upper class is the new plantation class – Animal Farm hello! Nothing changed since emancipation and independence. Tourism replaced sugar, offshore financial business is leaving Barbados, the brightest people emigrated or are just emigrating.

    What is left behind? The clueless masses whoreshipping Sinckler´s speeches and 30,000-40,000 civil servants who think that sabotaging the common good is a national duty.

  9. Chad00099999

    See wuh a tell ya bout you. ONE minute you make a whole lot of sense and the next you could be a real kubba. In this case, what you wrote is spot on true. Nice wun professor.

  10. Chadster is damaged goods, he has highs and lows, good candidate for antidepressants.

  11. All those bans will return to bite the orange idiot maybe before he is impeached and end up being reversed.

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