The Right to the Beach: Walling off Coastal Erosion

Construction of the Collaroy sea wall. Image © Northern Beaches Council

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, affluent Parisians flocked to second homes on France’s Atlantic coast as a nationwide lockdown came down on the country. In June 2020, as the lockdown was eased in England, residents headed to seaside towns like Bournemouth to soak in sunny weather. The former scenario reflects the widening gap between France’s wealthy and the poor, whilst the latter is a reflection of the democratizing power of public-access beaches.

In both situations, what is sought out is the ecological calmness usually found on beaches. Globally, however, there’s an unsettling phenomenon, where intertwined with climate change and policy decisions, beaches are increasingly becoming private, inaccessible spaces.

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