The Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience Academy, a tool to foster climate change research initiatives

Publié le 4 novembre 2022 Mis à jour le 4 novembre 2022

Marie-Yasmine Botteina, Christophe Den Auwerb, Dennis Foxc, Audrey Galved, Frédéric Grognarde, Manon Le Gourrierecf, Jean-Christophe Marting
a Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, UMR 7035 ECOSEAS, EUR LIFE, Nice, France
b Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, UMR 7272 Institut de Chimie de Nice, EUR Spectrum, Nice, France
c Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, UMR 7300 ESPACE, EUR ODYSSEE, Nice, France
d Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, OCA, IRD, UMR 7329, Géoazur, Nice, France
e Université Côte d'Azur, INRIA, BIOCORE, Nice, France
f Université Côte d'Azur, Académie d'Excellence "Espace, Environnement Risk et Résilience", Nice, France
g Université Côte d'Azur, UPR 7414 LADIE, Institut de la Paix et du Développement, Nice, France

I. Positioning

The “health” of our planet and of its broader ecosystems (natural environments, biodiversity, humans, cities, etc.) figures among the greatest concerns of our modern era. Natural and anthropogenic hazards are increasingly threatening the Earth and life, and a major challenge of the current century is to provide our societies with strategie

s to face the threats, reduce the risks, and promote the sustainable well-being of ecosystems. Despite immense progress in understanding natural and human environments, the diversity, complexity, and interconnections of ecosystems remain difficult to fully describe. And despite international institutions, state policies and local initiatives, conflicting interests at all scales contribute to hamper our capacity to manage our world in a more sustainable manner.
About 10 years ago, the concept of “planetary boundaries” was proposed to pave our way towards global sustainability [1]. A planetary boundary is defined as a limit that must not be transgressed if humans aspire to live in balance with their universe. Nine planetary boundaries were defined: climate change, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosol loading, biogeo-chemical flows (interference with P and N cycles), global freshwater use, land-system changes, rate of biodiversity loss, and chemical pollution. Each boundary has a threshold whose transgression might plunge humanity and Earth into an irreversible situation. In addition, most boundaries are interconnected so they form an intricate pattern of interrelated hazards. The planetary boundary framework demonstrates that the current and future challenges we are facing are complex, diverse, and defined within an intricate four-dimensional system including space, time, type of risk, and resilience. A few years later, threats from novel entities defined as "new substances, new forms of existing substances and modified life forms" [3] were introduced, with an emphasis on chemical pollution [2].
The Space, Environment, R[isk and Resilience Academy is an academic tool of Université Côte d'Azur created in 2016 to foster research initiatives in transdisciplinary research and address scientific questions in the broad field of environmental risks. The Academy has a core interest in the relationships and interconnections between humans, societies, ecosystems, and the Earth. This encompasses a wide range of multidisciplinary fields including all the aspects of natural sciences and social sciences. The objective of the Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience Academy is to create a new paradigm of inter- to transdisciplinary science where hazards are considered holistically, and risks described globally with all their components.
Since its inception, the Academy has laid down the main cornerstones for transdisciplinary research and training in hazards and risks at Université Côte d'Azur, fostering and supporting about 60 collaborative projects. These include the impact of endocrine-disrupting compounds on human health, marine noise in the Ligurian sea, nuclear risk perception and management, and the analysis of the effects of Storm Alex (2020) in the Alpes-Maritimes region to name a few.

II. Fostering research initiatives in the scope of Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience.

One of the main threads of the Academy is to address environmental and societal issues in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations [4]. This requires fostering new approaches that overcome the current fragmentation of research, integrating scientific knowledge across different disciplines and stakeholders, and co-creating scientific questions and projects together with specialized research groups. This calls for the development of transdisciplinary research that fuses natural and social sciences and medicine and integrates scientific experts, practitioners, and civil society. To reach this objective, the Academy is promoting integrated projects and approaches spanning a continuum from fundamental observation (what is it?) and scientific understanding (why is it?), to anticipation of consequences and hazards (what to expect?), exploration of coping strategies (what to do?), co-production of management responses (how to do it?), and design of sustainable development pathways (how to transform them?). The Academy is also fostering scientific exchanges beyond specific scientific skills in order to favour interdisciplinary initiatives. We believe that only such an integrated transdisciplinary approach can help us understand natural and human environments, decipher their complex interactions, and protect them durably.
The Academy is fostering the construction of projects (scientific and applied projects, training programs, workshops, dissemination projects, etc.) that are deliberately transdisciplinary and integrated with the SDGs in order to pave the way towards sustainable development. Projects are invited to include a reflection on the costs and benefits of the proposed actions at different spatial and temporal scales and link scientific observations with possible guidelines. More specifically, the Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience Academy encourages projects within the framework of five thematic topics that are also linked to clusters of SDGs:
  • Anthropogenic hazards for human health, environments and global changes (SDGs4 3, 6, 13)
  • Natural hazards and impacts on environments, cities and societies (SDGs4 11, 13)
  • Energy- and resource-related environmental challenges (SDGs4 7, 12, 15)
  • Threats to oceans and coastal areas (SDGs4 14, 15)
  • Risk assessment and management in relation to smart cities and territories (SDGs4 11, 12)
Finally, the Academy is promoting transdisciplinary scientific exchange by organizing a yearly seminar on questions of societal interest like Risk, Resilience and Societies. These seminars gather scientists from fields that are usually disconnected and rarely in dialogue; they therefore link disciplinary skills with open questions that require a transdisciplinary approach.

III. Training at the Master level.

The Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience Academy has developed an MSc specialized in addressing environmental hazards in the same transdisciplinary approach that drives our support to research. The MSc Environmental hazards and risks management ( provides skills in risk management, and more particularly in risk modelling, to better predict and manage environmental hazards and risks. The program is project-oriented and based on specialized modules dealing with common hazards and risks: earthquakes and tsunamis, soil degradation, land cover change, flooding, mass movements, harmful algal blooms, and forest fires. Students therefore acquire a broad view of common environmental hazards and modelling tools in order to predict risk evolution and potential mitigation strategies. On completion of the degree, graduates have a comprehensive understanding of risk management and advanced technical skills in Geographic Information Systems, remote sensing, and programming in Python and R. This new program will be entering its fifth year in September 2023, and it has attracted students from about 30 countries so far. The MSc aims to train a young generation of thinkers capable of anticipating and mitigating a wide range of natural hazards in a multidisciplinary approach.

IV. Contribution

The research and education promoted with the support of the Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience Academy is thus rich and diverse and scientifically and socially significant. Since its creation in 2016, it has opened the door to new collaborations outside the usual fields of expertise of the researchers, both in France and internationally. As a result, a sense of collective concern has emerged in our community which shows the necessity for innovative observations, research, instrumentation, and actions at various levels, from individuals to policy-makers, including scientists and the general population. This may be the only way to develop efficient resilience strategies for humans and the world’s ecosystems.


  1. J. Rockström, W. Steffen, K. Noone, Å. Persson, F. S. Chapin, E. Lambin, T. M. Lenton, M. Scheffer, C. Folke, H. J. Schellnhuber, B. Nykvist, C. A. de Wit, T. Hughes, S. van der Leeuw, H. Rodhe, S. Sörlin, P. K. Snyder, R. Costanza, U. Svedin, M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, R. W. Corell, V. J. Fabry, J. Hansen, B. Walker, D. Liverman, K. Richardson, P. Crutzen, J. Foley, Ecology and Society, 2009, 14(2): 32.
  2. L. Persson, B. M. Carney Almroth, C. D. Collins, S. Cornell, C. A. de Wit, M. L. Diamond, P. Fantke, M. Hassellöv, M. MacLeod, M. W. Ryberg, P. Søgaard Jørgensen, P. Villarrubia-Gómez, Z. Wang, M. Zwicky Hauschild, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022, 56, 1510-1521.
  3. W. Steffen, K. Richardson, J. Rockstrom, S.E. Cornell, I. Fetzer, E.M. Bennett, R. Biggs, S.R. Carpenter, W. de Vries, C. A. de Wit, C. Folke, D. Gerten, J. Heinke, G. M. Mace, L. M. Persson, V. Ramanathan, B. Reyers, S. Sorlin, Science 2015, 347 (6223), 1259855−1259855.
  4., Sept. 2022.