Palma hosts the presentation of LIFE AdaptCalaMillor – a pilot project seeking to bolster coastal resilience on urban beaches


  • The IMEDEA (CSIC - UIB) collaborates in a European project to increase the adaptation of Cala Millor beach to current environmental challenges.


IMEDEA is collaborating on the regional government-led project in the Balearic Islands, alongside different partners. The initiative is supported by the EU LIFE Programme and aims to strengthen resilience in the face of current environmental challenges in Cala Millor

The Government of the Balearic Islands and partner organisations hosted a public presentation about LIFE AdaptCalaMillor. Citizen participation and governance are pillars on this pilot project to drive long-term adaptation to climate change in the beach system and urban area of the Bay of Cala Millor (Majorca), as well as increase the resilience of the area’s infrastructure, ecosystems, services and economy.    

Photo: Cala Millor  Beach  Font: Conama Foundation

The LIFE AdaptCalaMillor project began in January 2023 and will run for the next five years in Cala Millor. It represents an investment of 2,294,047 euro, of which 1,376,424 will be co-financed by the EU LIFE Programme. Thanks to this EU support, the project represents a huge boost for the development and conservation of Cala Millor beach, by generating comprehensive, scientific and sustainable guidelines focused on all stakeholders. The initiative is a unique opportunity to research and identify useful conservation measures for urban beaches in the Mediterranean and the ecosystem services they offer as tourist destinations. The aim is for findings to be transferred to other similar tourist destinations, making Cala Millor an example for other urban beaches in the Mediterranean.

The project is a unique opportunity to research and identify useful conservation measures for urban beaches in the Mediterranean and the ecosystem services they offer as tourist destinations.

The project is spearheaded by the Regional Department of Business, Employment and Energy through the Directorate General for the Circular Economy, Energy Transition and Climate Change, in coordination with the Balearic Islands Coastal Ocean Observing and Forecasting System (ICTS SOCIB); IMEDEA - The Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (CSIC-UIB); the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB); the Badia de Cala Millor Consortium; the Cala Millor and Sa Coma Hotel Association; the CONAMA Foundation;  the Environmental Hydraulics Institute at the University of Cantabria, and LANDLAB.

‘The Government of the Balearic Islands is fully aware of climate change and for this reason is working on cross-cutting initiatives like this one’, states Diego Viu, Director General for the Circular Economy, Energy Transition and Climate Change. ‘We need to plan for future scenarios and come up with medium- to long-term public-private action plans with a solid scientific basis. LIFE AdaptCalaMillor will be used to define common approaches in the fight against climate change in the Balearic Islands’, he concludes.

The project

LIFE AdaptCalaMillor will test and validate new science-based methodologies and participatory and governance frameworks to raise the resilience of urban beaches. In this sense, the initiative in Cala Millor will lead to an outline for a long-term adaptation project based on comprehension and agreement amongst a wide range of stakeholders with shared interests and responsibilities in the bay area.

The project’s implementation should help in mitigating the forecast physical, environmental and socioeconomic impacts on this section of the Majorcan coastline. LIFE AdaptCalaMillor will propose long-term transformation of the beach system and urban area to bolster resilience of local infrastructure, ecosystem services, the economy and society in light of these anticipated impacts.



Long-term adaptation projects should include ‘soft measures’ as alternatives, and require a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach with a solid scientific basis in order to provide an important solution at local level, and thus establish the decision-making process based on solid forecasts. 

In this sense, hazard, vulnerability and risk maps will be produced for the physical, environmental and socioeconomic aspects related to medium- and long-term scenarios in 2030 and 2050 for the area covering 1.5 km2 of microtidal semi-enclosed bay sands, a 5 km perimeter and a width of 1.5 km from the coastline to a depth of around 20 m.

This step will be followed by combining and assessing associated impacts and risks in line with a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, ad hoc methodology to produce multi-risk maps that will be used to make decisions on extensive, local-level adaptation strategies. The methodology will include compatible urban planning, legislative, socioeconomic, physical and environmental measures. The final stage will produce a concept plan and coastal planning blueprint for Cala Millor covering a total surface area of around 85,795.40 m2, as well as proposed executive measures ready for implementation.

The adaptation strategy and specific implementation project processes will come from the project’s overarching participatory and multi-governance approach.


Forecast impacts

The anticipated effects from climate change on the Balearic coastline for 2050 and 2100 point to beaches disappearing and impacts on buildings and infrastructure. Specifically in Cala Millor, just as for many other coastal locations in the Balearics and other Mediterranean regions, this will affect the main economic force in the area, since tourist services are located on the coastline in traditional ‘sun and beach’ destinations.

According to the former PIMA ADAPTA COSTAS project, Cala Millor’s urban beach will shrink between 33% and 66% by 2100. Both these figures take into account the least favourable future climate conditions. Other forecasts point to a loss under 33%. The erosion process itself would be irreversible since the water depth on the coast is limited by the seafront, where the physical geography and different human uses make any reversal impossible.

In terms of society and the economy, around 74% of Cala Millor’s inhabitants work in the service sector, whilst the rest work in construction—a sector closely tied to tourism. Earnings from the high season can run to 75 million euro in this area alone. Consequently, the socioeconomic impacts from climate change will be critical in the towns of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar and Son Servera.

Both areas will be affected by a loss of beach-based leisure services. All climate scenarios and timescales, including today, point to service losses with a major impact on Sant Llorenç des Cardassar. The losses in the town will run between 16 million euro in the current outlook and 136.3 million in the worst case scenario. In turn, Son Servera will see losses run from 5.4 million in the current outlook to 26.7 euro according to estimates for 2100 in the worst-case climate scenario.

The project will include the relevant national, regional and local authorities for the coastal region, and provide information and training on science-based risks and comprehensive adaptation solutions for Cala Millor.