future coastline

Imagine the coastline of tomorrow!

As part of the National Conference on the Ecological Transition of the Sea and Oceans, for Blue Growth and Climate, a call for ideas from civil society to "imagine the coastline of tomorrow" was launched by the Ministry of the Environment. 
This is an awareness-raising campaign to address the challenges of coastal development, particularly in view of the rise in sea level and the retreat of the coastline as part of the policy of adaptation to climate change. This initiative allows the mobilisation of civil society in order to collect prospective contributions likely to feed into the reflections on the management and development of coastal territories, in particular through alternative solutions to actions to "fight against the sea". Presentation of the projects on Thursday 27 October.
Por this first edition, launched in April 2016 and ending in October, the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Sea has proposed to imagine the coastline we dream of in half a century, in 2070, far from the struggles against the sea and floods, a living and peaceful coastline, wild or populated, a space to be shared between us and nature, a territory between land and sea where habitats, uses, biodiversity, activities... A common, sustainable but not immutable coastline!
Pupils, students, associations, communities, individuals, artists, writers, industrialists, craftsmen... any citizen interested in the coast was invited to imagine all or part of our ideal coastline and to project ourselves to "re-enchant" this space between land and sea. 
Thursday, October 27th is proposed the exhibition of the 30 projects concluding this 1st call for ideas. A day punctuated by round tables and participatory workshops. Archaeologists, historians of seaside architecture, landscape designers, architects, creators and elected representatives will be alongside the contributors of ideas and the public for a day of exchanges on the theme of the coastline of tomorrow. 

Changing the model

Coastal ecosystems are the most dynamic in the world. Global warming reminds us of this with the rise in sea level, the impacts of coastal erosion and the increase in marine submersion.
An ancestral place devoted to fishing and maritime trade, defended by military forts, the coast has been increasingly inhabited, with a growing attraction for seaside activities and sunsets. The sea fronts multiplied, favoured by the arrival of the railway.
Faced with mass tourism, 40 years ago, the Conservatoire du Littoral was created. Ten years later, the coastal law expressed the challenge of a certain balance between natural and urbanised spaces. Today, the exceptional marine biodiversity and the richness of coastal natural environments make it a unique territory.
Rather than fighting against the sea, sometimes in an emergency, we need to accompany the evolution of the coastline and adapt. We have to accept that certain territories are sometimes occupied by the sea, organise ourselves accordingly and in the long term, invent new ways of living in these spaces between land and sea, and share them better by preserving them in order to benefit from their advantages. This implies changing our points of view, changing our habits, reinventing our habitats, our coastal towns and seaside resorts, our agriculture, our activities, our spatial, economic and cultural models.

The coastline is moving...

... according to wind and tide
Here dunes, there sandy beaches, elsewhere chalk cliffs, rocks... The coast is in motion. Constantly and forever. Even if you haven't necessarily perceived it. In France, nearly a quarter of the coastline is retreating due to coastal erosion. It is a natural phenomenon: with the liking of currents, waves, tides, storms or cyclones, the sea transports sediments (1), makes dunes and mangroves move and digs cliffs. The sand comes and goes according to the seasons, sometimes the sea takes it far away. In some places, the coastline2 is retreating by a few metres a year.
... according to climate change
Although this is difficult to assess, coastal erosion is worsening in most parts of the world with rising sea levels, one of the main consequences of climate change: the oceans are getting warmer, expanding, taking up more volume; glaciers and polar ice caps are melting and flowing into the ocean. This also increases the risk of marine submersion, sometimes with dramatic consequences, as during storm Xynthia in 2010. Over the last three millennia, the sea has been rising at a rate of about 6 cm per century. Between 1993 and 2010, it rose by about 7 cm, almost as much as in a century.
... according to our facilities
We are also accentuating the problem by building ports, consuming sand for our constructions, building dams on rivers that block the circulation of sediments and by developing more and more the coveted coastline: during the tourist season, it can accommodate up to 14 million people while representing only 4 % of the territory. And to continue this conquest of the coastline, to urbanize more and more, we are building dikes and coastal works in the hope of controlling nature. However, in the face of natural hazards, these protections, which are often not very effective in the long term, often have to be repaired or destroyed.

Let's move!

The sea could still rise another metre, with the wind blowing stronger and more intensely.
We know full well that where we struggle today, the sea will take over tomorrow. In 2012, the French government launched a national strategy to anticipate the effects of coastal erosion as well as possible by encouraging local authorities to manage their coastline in a reasoned way: to think about relocating (3) threatened uses, activities and assets, to imagine how to spatially recompose their territories by assessing all the impacts, to reinvent a shared coastline.
Ecosystems are the first protections of coasts: mangroves, coral reefs, those of tropical coasts, marshes and wetlands, those of low coasts, dunes, those of sandy coasts. These protections are fragile but very effective. How can they be preserved and restored? Safeguarding these environments is a challenge in the fight against climate change, and an opportunity to embellish coastal landscapes, increase the attractiveness and economic resources of the territories, and satisfy tourists and children.
Taking a step back
Some of these coastal areas, such as low-lying coastlines, are susceptible to flooding during severe storms, especially when they are below sea level, such as some polders (4). Other coastlines are subject to cliff erosion The territories must recompose and renew themselves. The responses are obviously very different depending on the means, territorial configurations and the issues at stake. There is no miracle recipe! You have to experiment.

It's up to us!

Our challenge is to accompany the necessary changes in spatial, cultural and economic patterns in coastal areas. The coastline is our common heritage, at the heart of many sustainable issues. It provides us with protection, sustenance, balance and resources. How can we adapt so that, in 50 years' time, it will be preserved and renewed? How can we ensure that we will be able to live there in harmony with nature and the sea?
Anything is possible!
Using shore power How to produce energy with wind and tides? How can we take advantage of this and make these territories autonomous, actors of the energy transition?
Inventing the future seaside resort The seaside activities of 2070 will probably be quite different from those of today. If thalassotherapy or hiking on the coastal paths have not stopped developing over the last 50 years, who would have imagined the rapid growth of paddling, kite surfing, jet skiing, sand yachting? What will campsites look like? Will waterfronts and marinas still be of this century?
Building the Resilient City What long-term urbanization? Let's dare to spatially recompose the coastline for better protection. How can we do this? Climate change? Where to settle under cover with what means of transport? How can we build today on an area subject to the retreat of the coastline? How to adapt neighbourhoods, architecture and monumental heritage to coastal risks? Floating houses, nomadic houses, houses on stilts... the city must adapt to space and time.
Imagining tomorrow's landscape What can be done to help everyone understand sea level rise and coastal erosion? How can the landscape of the future be represented on the ground today? Sometimes the markers are already there. History can feed the vision of the future. Can the markers teach coastal passers-by? How can we predict the transformation of the landscape and make the disappearance and evolution of the coastline an event in the memory of the history of the site? Conversely, what needs to be invented to be able to build this memory of tomorrow and accept the inevitable in a peaceful way?
Making the most of salty environments The rise in sea level, the flooding of coastal rivers, coupled with the revival of rational local agriculture and the development of permaculture can transform in a sustainable and positive way the spaces between land and sea where salt is increasing. The coastal plains are becoming more mixed. What kind of agriculture, aquaculture, shellfish farming, algoculture or simply salt meadows?
Participate in blue growth through the development of an economy of exchanges: Favour local economic activities such as shipyards or maritime activities while limiting their impacts?
Improving natural ecosystems How to improve this precious natural coastal heritage, renaturalize, restore the dunes, replant local vegetation such as mangroves, protect coral reefs? To capture marine energy and submersions, estuaries or plains are put back into water, if necessary by building secondary dikes? How to preserve the wintering and breeding grounds of numerous species, especially fish and water birds?

On Thursday 27th October, the exhibition of the 30 projects concluding this first call for ideas will take place. A day punctuated by round tables and participatory workshops. Archaeologists, historians of seaside architecture, landscape designers, architects, creators and elected representatives will be alongside the contributors of ideas and the public for a day of exchanges on the theme of the coastline of tomorrow. Isabelle Autissier, sailor, writer, president of the WWF, and godmother of the operation will be present.
Information on : www.littoral2070.fr


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