Cala Millor has been talking about climate change for over 20 years. The consequences of a strong storm in this Majorcan city alerted local researchers at that time, who began to study how to anticipate these episodes, the rise in sea level or the effect of extreme temperatures on the coast of this, the treasure that is most valuable to its neighbors and is also the biggest engine of the local economy, based on the basis of tourism.
Today, with more than 150,000 hours of data collected about the coast, the town launched the LIFE Adapt Cala Millor project. With this, this coastal enclave can become a kind of ‘natural laboratory’ where measures can be applied that prevent the worst predictions from coming true: The municipality could lose between 33 and 66% of its dry coastline by 2100which produces an irreversible erosion phenomenon.
The measures, which will be developed with a scientific approach, seek to rethink the first coast, the change of the coastal system, the renaturalization of the dunes, removal of dams, etc. “Climate change must make these kinds of decisions. Going from theory to practice is necessary,” Joaquín Tintoré, one of the researchers studying this area from the Coastal Observation System of the Balearic Islands (SOCIB) and who participated in this proposal, explains RTVE.es.
The initiative, that is designed to be replicated in other cities, has funding of more than two million euros, of which more than half corresponds to the European Union, as well as the promotion of local, regional and national governments and the support of the hoteliers themselves in the area. The greatest strength of the project – added Tintoré – is the “consensus that we must take care of the coast for the common good” of all the actors. “We have the data, the will and the confidence that the measures are designed to be coherent, that they can be implemented,” he said.
“We must take care of the beach for the common good”
In this sense, in the presentation of this project at Fitur, the general director of the Circular Economy, Energy Transition and Climate Change of the Balearic Government, Diego Viu, chose to “work transversally” to design “effective action plans ” defended by the president of the Badia Hotel Association in Cala Millor-Sa Coma, Inés Batle, who urged the sector to be “generous” and “brave” in decision-making. “The beach is our refuge, our meeting center, the place where we learn to swim, our connection to other towns. We will not lose our coast,” he said.
As in the participation of neighbors”a process of communication and management has been initiated for the local population and the work will continue to build alliances at the regional and national levels at the National Environmental Congress (Conama 2024) this year,” he emphasized, for his part, Marta Seoane, technician from Conama Foundation, organizing entity of this event and communication coordinator of Life Adapt Cala Millor.
Tarragona is also looking to take its first steps
Although Cala Millor may, for now, be one of the visible leaders of the new trend, the concern about climate change and its effects on tourism is also spreading on the other side of the Mediterranean. In Tarragona, the town of Calafell had to destroy part of its promenade because of the storms. Meanwhile, in the municipality of L’Ampolla, it also takes steps to change its infrastructure, but in a new way. Its L’Arenal beach was almost destroyed by hurricane Gloria in 2022 and due to the lack of effectiveness of traditional sand filters, it decided to examine other methods.
“We are still at the beginning of a long career. We hope to have a study of the situation this year and start to create a project to change the natural beach, which used to be used for bathing and has a lot services: sea base, sports fields and even nightlife areas,” they explained to sources from the The government group of the council, stressing that it could also be due to “the predisposition of the central government to act .” “Besides the tourist benefit, which it will have, there is more sentimental value to the neighbors on the beach. Many grew up watching it as children and it is, without a doubt, an inseparable part of the municipality’s identity,” they added.
From Ecologistas en Acción, they point out that “we are already seeing the effects of climate change on tourism” in many parts of Spain, where there are many urban beaches, so they defend the return to nature. “The coasts are losing their first line of defense against events with an increase in sea level or the frequency of storms,” explained Pau Monasterio, from the area of the Tourism Commission of the said environmental entity .
Furthermore, he pointed out how A change in temperature can also reduce the flow of tourism. “The projections suggest that the thermal comfort zone will move to northern Europe and that means that countries such as Spain or Italy will face significant losses in the number of days with favorable temperatures for tourism, with consequences economic loss.” “We need decision makers who, from all areas, manage and implement effective measures,” he added.
Canary Islands, very vulnerable to climate change
In the Atlantic they don’t want to be left behind either. In the Canary Islands, there are fears about how the effects of climate change – drought and rising temperatures – will affect their natural resources. “Islands are very vulnerable ecosystems to these types of impacts, we see how fires are becoming more frequent. It affect biodiversity and cause tourists to choose other destinations as well, negatively affecting the economy of the community,” warns Carmelo Léon, professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and coordinator of Soclimpact, a European project on tourism and climate change in the islands. “Unfortunately – pointed out the researcher – the political action is very slow and no action will be taken until the results are seen,” he said about the initiatives on the islands, which are still very early and in the research phase.
This situation, however, also encourages asking another way:What are the effects of tourism on climate change? In this sense, Pau Monasterio proposes to pursue a more comprehensive approach. “It’s a little white biting its own tail. Even if an ecosystem is restored, it is also necessary to take into account the environmental cost of the activity to be carried out inside and outside it, in this case tourism. I am referring to the ecological footprint of transportation, energy and water consumption at a time that is increasingly marked by drought and greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “Tourism is not a sector without smoke, we must get that idea out of our heads, and act so that we do not fall into the same mistakes of the past and where we pay,” he concluded.
On this topic, León chose increase prevention and adaptation plans”But not only for the climate crisis – he said – but also for social adaptation to change,” he stressed. “It is very important that the Administration and companies move forward, but also that clients and consumers can make the right decisions when traveling. ” or visiting a place and that they are consistent with the long-term consequences of their action,” concluded the researcher.