Senators present motion for a Coastal Law
The text submitted presents scientific evidence generated by the Coastal Observatory and coastal communities to initiate the first parliamentary discussions on a Coastal Law in the Senate Environment Committee.
An initiative to initiate a process of discussions for the creation of a Coastal Law for Chile was presented by senators Alfonso De Urresti (PS), senators Paulina Núñez (RN) and Yasna Provoste (DC) and senators Ricardo Lagos W. (PPD) and Juan Ignacio Latorre (RD). The initiative, in general, amends Law No. 19,300, on General Bases of the Environment, regarding the protection of coastal areas.
The motion for this public policy gathers the scientific evidence made by organizations such as the Observatorio de la Costa, together with important research centers dedicated to analyze the situation of the Chilean coasts threatened by climate change, and the organized communities of the Chilean coast.
Carolina Martínez, director of the Observatorio de la Costa points out that in recent decades “86% of the beaches between Arica and Chiloé show significant erosion with varying levels of retreat. Therefore, the motion introduced by senators highlights the importance for Chile to be able to regulate our coastal zone with the latest scientific research supporting the proposal”.
For the same reason, the parliamentary motion emphasizes that the country’s coastal zone has been subjected to strong anthropization, characterized by intense social and urban processes, which has generated disproportionate growth around the coastal axes. The cost of this has been the filling of wetlands for real estate projects, the occupation of dune fields, the extraction of sand from beaches, rivers and dunes for construction, contamination of bodies of water and soil, fragmentation of the coastal landscape, artificialization of the coastal landscape with engineering works, regression of traditional activities of indigenous peoples, among others.
Scientific studies indicate that this intervention affects the sedimentary dynamics that make possible the recovery of sandy surfaces, resulting in a degradation that could prevent the very existence of many beaches in the country. Current research shows that erosion doubles every two years on most of Chile’s beaches.
“In addition to the deterioration of the natural landscape that this entails, it also generates social processes characterized by inequity and unsustainability, as we have been observing with irregular occupation, including land seizures and encampments,” the text states. This critical condition also dangerously reduces the natural protection against disasters caused by earthquakes and tsunamis, leaving the coastal population much more exposed. This scenario of our coastline makes it urgent to have a new coastal governance and a regulation that expands the protection of our coast.
Until now, one of the main impediments to advancing towards policies to mitigate these impacts is that our regulation is based on the so-called “National Policy for the Use of the Coastal Edge”, a regulation that is more than three decades old. This old regulation contemplates the concept of “coastal edge”, which in practice only protects an insignificant part of the coast (only up to the 80-meter beach line), leaving valuable associated ecosystems outside any legal figure of protection.
The new regulation, however, which began its first constitutional procedure in Congress, seeks to position the concept of coastal zone, assimilating the scientific evidence that has been generated by academia and mobilized citizens, and to propose a coastal regulation that is in line with the new climate challenges, safeguarding our coasts for the use of Chileans, the ecosystem services they provide and the unique biodiversity that inhabits them.