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3. Sustainable coastal Systems

(c)Fréderic Le Mouillour

Contacts: Christèle Dondeyne, Serge Suanez & Emma Michaud


Coastal morpho-ecosystems (0-200 meter depth) extend along 350,000 km worldwide around the continents. Located at the interface between land and the ocean, coastal systems are very dynamic by essence. This always placed the coastal zones at the forefront of the effects of climate changes, in the meantime causing them to rapidly reconfigure themselves towards strong natural constraints but also giving great adaptive and resilient capacities. The ongoing climatic change and ecological crisis cause the whole set of coastal eco- and morpho-systems to face high-magnitude perturbations and imbalance, making them as the most fragile and endangered ones on earth.   

Coastal ecosystems strongly interact with the societies that live on and near these zones, forming  socio-ecosystems, as well as on a broader scale with society itself when considering the myriad of ecosystem services coastal zones provide (carbon sequestration, marine resources, etc.). As such, the negative feedback effects caused by anthropogenic activities and usages to the coastal zones must be accounted for the sustainability of these environments and of the services they provide should be maintained in the near-future.

Therefore, preserving, restoring, and managing coastal socio-ecosystems is now an eco-environmental and societal necessity. This also presupposes policies for the sustainable management of coastal urbanization and the socio-economic and industrial activities located in these areas, as long as socio-ecosystems have long provided human societies with a multitude of services such as :

  • living resources in terms of fishery and aquaculture,
  • physical resources concerning fossil and renewable energies,
  • suitable spaces for port and urban areas dedicated to maritime transports, trade, and human settlements,
  • adapted zones for tourism activities combining land use and environmental preservation,
  • zones of ecological hotspot for biodiversity,
  • preservation of environmental features for regulation of biogeochemical, etc.

Theme 3 objectives

Theme 3 will tackle the so-called “coastal challenge”, which aims at developing coherent and long-term strategies for integrated coastal zone management for sustainable coastal socio-ecosystems, by promoting interactive works between engineering sciences (mechanics, materials…), environment, biogeochemistry, ecology, social and human sciences. This ambitious aim requires strong inter and trans-disciplinary research at the interface nature/society based on social, technological/engineering, and environmental approaches.

In this framework, theme 3 will consider only projects in relationships with at least one of its 4 research axes :

  • AXE 1 – Monitoring and understanding the physical, morpho-geological, biological and biogeochemical processes that drive the resilience of coastal systems in the context of global change.
  • AXE 2 – Socio-ecosystem trajectories for understanding the links between environment-societies to assess their vulnerability and adaptations to global change.
  • AXE 3 – Psycho-socio-economic studies for the implementation of policies/strategies for the sustainability of coastal environments.
  • AXE 4 – Towards sustainable materials and technologies for sustainable coastal socio-ecosytems.

Photo credit : Frédéric Le Mouillour