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GIP IERDJ - The legal challenges of the ecological transition of territories threatened by rising waters

Funding : GIP Institut des Études et de la Recherche sur le Droit et la Justice

Start and Duration : February 2022 - 24 months

Scientific coordinator : STRUILLOU Jean-François  (DCS - CNRS) 

Persons involved in the project: 
- Katia BARRAGAN - IE, CNRS DCS - CNRS research assistant
- Céline CHADENAS - MCF, Nantes Université IGARUN - Nantes Université / IGARUN Lecturer
- Marie CRESPY DE CONINCK - MCF, Nantes UniversitéDCS - Nantes Université / DCS Lecturer
- Nicolas HUTEN - MCF, Nantes Université DCS - Nantes Université / DCS Lecturer
- Jean-François STRUILLOU - DR, CNRS DCS - CNRS research director


Abstract :  

Society is asking if we need to take legal steps to adapt to the effects of global warming on coastal areas. We need to decide whether or not we should create a legal requirement to support the establishment of a new paradigm which will move on from the current “unsustainable” model, characterised by the continued, or even expanded urbanisation of coastal areas threatened by rising sea levels, to an ecological transition which aims to drastically reduce the vulnerability of human activity to this phenomenon and to “re-wild” the areas concerned. 

With this in mind, we consider it useful to examine the extent to which such an ecological transition would imply a redefinition of two major fundamental principles. The first, property rights, grants rights-holders prerogatives motivated by property-owning considerations which could be seen as "transicidal". It is thus planned to re-think these rights, as coastal land appears to be too important to Society to be appropriated under the same rules that apply to individuals’ property. The second is the principle of a balance between environmental protection and urban development. To date, it must be admitted that this has not slowed the consumption of coastal land. As a consequence, research has been focussed on a re-examination of this principle, as the demands of an ecological transition imply that the hegemonic stance that encourages the urban development of coastal areas be abandoned in favour of a more systemic vision that would make preserving the environment and protecting populations from risks a compulsory addition to any projects that involve changes to the spatial composition of land. 

We then consider it appropriate to analyse the structure of the new standard, as soon as the intention to adopt an ecological transition policy becomes part of a new legal language. To this end, we will analyse Article 58 of the proposed “Climate and Resilience” Law, along with projects to “delocalise” or “relocalise” human activities. After analysing the mode of government that makes these projects visible, we will question the social and legal validity of the proposed new Law. First, we will decide whether or not the Law in question could contribute to the advent of an ecological transition. Second, we will question the Law’s legal validity in the context of the jurisprudence of the European Court, which has questioned the conventionality of Laws which fail to take sufficient account of the coastal risks that threaten human life.

Keywords : Coastal areas ; Global warming ; Coastal risks ; Protection of populations against risks ; Property rights

Mis à jour le 18 May 2022.