This story was originally published by Hakai Magazine and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
GT-Mar, a working group that gathers congresspeople and civil society organizations worried about marine matters, has been following the bill’s development. According to Adayse Bossolani, GT-Mar’s executive secretary, privatizing beaches is a decision that carries environmental, social, and economic consequences, and one that needs to be discussed with experts. The bill poses “a giant threat,” she says.
Congressional representatives are analyzing the propositions as if the only issue is governmental ownership, but it’s more serious than that, Bossolani says. “Areas of dunes and mangroves, for instance, must be permanently protected. A decision that may put them at risk cannot be made without the proper debate with civil society, ”she adds.
Alexander Turra, an oceanographer at the University of São Paulo in Brazil who coordinates the UNESCO Chair on Ocean Sustainability, is opposed to the bill for several reasons. Access to the coast is vitally important for coastal communities and for Brazilian society as a whole, Turra says, and should not be conceded, even in part, to small groups of entrepreneurs only interested in short-term gain.
The impacts of development on coastal ecosystems could be numerous, he adds. Migratory birds flock to beaches to feed and rest, and many species use them to reproduce. A future casino or hotel’s light could disorient species at night. “Their privatization may amplify coastal erosion,” he adds, “something that is being intensified by climate change.” Development could also lead to increased pollution.
Congressman Agostinho says that with bill 4444/2021 seeing support among congresspeople who back President Jair Bolsonaro, and from those connected to the tourism industry, he has his work cut out to persuade his colleagues to rethink the bill.