Ian Fisher: Climate Change and Local Distinctiveness in South Goa

Updated: Nov 4, 2018



As I remember it, no more than four years ago during the tourist season, (November-March) there were very few waves on Agonda beach in South Goa, certainly none that were large enough to surf. The gentle sea and the empty beach very much reflected the ambience of this small resort-laid back and a peaceful backwater compared with the intensity of Baga, Calangute and Anjuna. The village attracted a very mixed clientele of travellers, couples and mature visitors, wishing to find peace and tranquillity and possibly enrol in the growing number of Yoga classes.


At Christmas 2014 Velu set up his surf shop on the beach and has been successfully teaching a growing number of beginners ever since. But where did the waves come from? In the last twelve years of visiting this beach, surfing standard waves appeared to be in very much short supply.

Is it a manifestation of global climate change? Could there be a change in ocean currents, more powerful monsoon storms? Or are there other factors?



Whatever the reasons, it may be another example of how human activity has unforeseen impacts globally and in this case locally. Weather patterns disturbed by a changing climate have an impact “glocally” and are indirectly creating change at a local level.


Agonda had so far survived the mass tourism in the North and development had been taking place at what appears to be a manageable and sustainable level. In the last two years the rate of development has increased exponentially. Surfing and its culture are both a catalyst and a reflection of that change.


As Agonda expands it will inevitably succumb to the suffocating affects of global tourism directed at a predominantly young clientele, populated by global brands and Western style entertainment and catering. Local businesses will be threatened, habitats (Ridley Turtle nesting sites) destroyed and the complex relationship of locals and their environment compromised.


In conclusion this is not a criticism of Velu’s surfing school, which I wish every success or a not in my back yard mentality, but rather an observation on the unknown unknowns of globalisation and the unintended destruction of diversity and difference in an increasingly small world.

© 2018 by RE:ALM x SoLA

Manchester School of Architecture

Manchester Metropolitan University

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