one green planet
one green planet

On September 6th, 2017 Hurricane Irma touched down on the island of Barbuda. Over 90% of the island’s buildings were damaged and the 1800 residents who call the island home had to be evacuated to Antigua. By February of 2019, with rebuilding efforts ongoing, still only 75% of the island’s residents had returned. In the time that has passed since, some residents of the island have begun to accuse outside organizations, celebrities, and philanthropists of “land grabs.

In 2007, the creation of the “Barbuda Land Act of 2007” established that the residents of the island needed to provide consent for any major development to take place. A big change occurred to the act in 2016, however, one year before Hurricane Irma changed everything. In the 2016 amendment to the act, the definition of a “major development” was increased from being valued at above $5.4 million to $40 million. This meant that development projects valued at under $40 million did not require the consent of Barbuda’s residents. This, combined with the impacts of Hurricane Irma, opened the door for several controversial projects on the island.

When islanders began returning to the island after the Hurricane Irma evacuations, they noticed an airport was being built on the island. Prime Minister Gaston Brown said the airport was being built to serve two resorts that would be built on the island as well.

Hollywood Actor Robert De Niro is looking to build what he refers to as an “Inn” on a 391 acre stretch of the island. The “Nobu Beach Inn” will feature villas that have direct beach access. He is hopeful that the resort will be completed in 2023.

Journeyman Pictures/YouTube

De Niro is not the only developer with their eyes on the island, however. Co-Founder of Patron Tequila, John Paul DeJoria, is also seeking to build a resort on the island through his company, Peace, Love and Happiness (PLH). Some residents, however, say that the area DeJoria is looking to build on is protected by law, and ecologically sensitive. The area where Dejoria’s resort would be built is currently home to a lobster fishery and is also a habitat for endangered species such as the leatherback turtle and hawksbill. Some construction is believed to have already taken place on the project.

The Global Legal Action Network filed a complaint on behalf of Barbuda council earlier this month in the hopes of having the project stopped.

“Failure to stop the project in its current form will result in the destruction of the Codrington Lagoon National Park and Ramsar Site,” Barbuda Council environmental adviser Adelle Blair is quoted in the complaint. “This will leave the Barbuda people more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change having decimated all the natural defenses, seriously threatening its livelihood base and survival, to make way for a place for the rich to live and play golf.”

DeJoria is a self-described environmentalist himself, however. He is on the board of trustees for the Waterkeeper Alliance and is a supporter of the Sea Shepherd Society. He spoke to Sea Shepherd about how he plans to help people on Barbuda recover from the 2017 Hurricane through his resort.

“We … are going to (help them with their income) for a full year until a resort is built and they have regular work. This way we find other work for those people,” DeJoria said.

Barbuda Council secretary Paul Nedd believes that despite Dejoria’s claims, he is the head of an organization causing environmental destruction to the island.

“It is alleged that he believes in protecting the environment,” Nedd said. “But here in Barbuda, he is the head of an organization that is seemingly causing major destruction to an environment. And not only the environment — major destruction to a people’s life, to an entire community.”

Sign this petition to help protect coral reefs in Antigua and Barbuda.

Related Content:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Also, don’t forget to download the Food Monster App on iTunes — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!