Community Challenges

The course provides knowledge of how innovative processes in interdisciplinary teams can be used to solve demand-based problems in climate change-related areas. The focus is on applying serious games - gaming beyond pure entertainment - to seek solutions to combat global climate change and promote positive changes in self-management, learning and behaviour, for example through training, competition and education.

This interdisciplinary course will give you an increased understanding of the complex relationships between health, environment, and climate change. This will also incorporate sustainable cities and well-being.

The course presents water resource management in sustainable cities. Introduction to challenges and sustainable adaptation measures for drinking water supply and wastewater as well as stormwater management, with focus on treatment, distribution and collection systems.

This class will prepare you with social science theories on climate change, key concepts of climate science and policy as well as qualitative methodological training for data collection and analysis..

ENLIGHT challenge : How can the monitoring of air quality be carried out precisely? How can this inform local decision-making? And development of sustainable development policies?

Qualité de l'air- Air Quality

This challenge is concerned with air quality and climate change across the Bordeaux metropolitan area and the municipalities covering the extensive campus area. It will involve the installation of sensors, data collection and analysis.

The objective is to set up an experimental observatory, a multidisciplinary and participatory demonstrator, in connection with air quality bringing together all disciplines related to the issues of pollution, sustainable development, climate change and more broadly global change: physics, chemistry, life sciences, ecology, law, economics, sociology.

Lead researcher: Eric Villenave

The University of Bordeaux regional academy partners:

Bordeaux Métropôle in connection with  relevant labs, associations and stakeholders – Climate Kic, Futurs-ACT, CITEPA, ATMO Nouvelle-Aquitaine, AtmoTrack, Plume Labs, AirLib.

ENLIGHT challenge - how can cities develop sustainable eco-resilient housing?

These are challenges related to on campus sustainable housing (s) which aim to approach the question from both a multicultural and multiclimatic perspective, and to seek solutions for the major challenges of providing quality housing on campus.

The aim is to develop a living-lab on the issue of sustainable housing in order to question and experiment a the economic and social aspects of student housing. The focus will be on the creation, operation and collection of data on the issue of a sustainable habitat in our environment. The project brings together students, societal actors, local authorities and consumers in order to develop collective awareness and engagement around eco-resilient habitat. The lead researcher is Philippe Lagiere.

A wide set of societal and regional academy partners have expressed an interest in this student-led project:

  • Urban Forum, Nobatek project, INF4, Darwin (living space, urban agriculture and housing),
  • Social housing landlords
  • Social innovation Associations: Eturécup, AFEV (Kapseurs), Compagnons Batisseurs, BatiACTion
  • INRAE ​​ - wood industry sector, CRNS / I2M, Pôle PEP, wood cluster StartUps:
  • Bordeaux Métropole / CROUS / Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine,

Management of urban heat islands – role of micro forests in urban settings, education and understanding related to climate change and pollution, urban well-being.

This multidisciplinary experimental forest project, which is located on university ground which was formerly the Floirac Observatory. The project aims to monitor the responses of urban forests to climate change, as well as their impact on environmental health and well-being in the city, ecophysiology with prospects for land use planning. The research lead for this experimental forest project is Sylvain Delzon (Lab- UMR Bioegeco).

Objectives of the experimental forest

in situ monitoring of the experimental forest

analysis of biodiversity and ecosystem services

development in connection with the PPE pole of infrastructures for the forest

development for teaching and reception of schoolchildren and showcase and citizen science projects.

Partners: the local Regional academy group - Agir Ensemble – has engaged with the potential of this urban forest living-lab. A first working session planned at the end of May was unfortunately postponed to August due to extreme weather conditions. However partners have already proposed and are discussing projects based on the potential of this forest in the city. The emerging projects can be consulted here.

ENLIGHT the challenges that emerge include management of urban heat islands – monitoring (captors and sensors for this purpose), development of cool islands, impact study of micro forests.

The objective: Ghent climate-robust by 2030

Climate change makes Ghent vulnerable to more and more intense heat waves, more extreme showers and longer droughts. That is also felt today. We must prepare our city for these change: keep them pleasant, liveable, healthy and safe for our residents, institutions and businesses. We have set an ambitious goal from the City: by 2030 we want to be climate-robust. One of the objectives is to make the underground of Ghent work like a sponge. A rain shower that occurs once every 20 years may not cause damage to buildings, roads or other urban infrastructure in Ghent, now and in the future.

Water and greenery needs more space in the city

Source measures are the most effective and most beneficial in the long term to intervene proactive on the consequences of climate change. This means that we must limit paving to the functional minimum, provide space for greenery and retain rainwater on site in winter as much as possible. are asking for more space for water and greenery at plot level, street level and neighbourhood le These measures are very drastic in a city where the competition for space is very high and many different societal challenges have to be tackled simultaneously.

For example, we aim to pave the public domain by 15% less during the integral redevelopment. However, it is not easy for designers to balance the spatial questions linked to all kinds of societal challenges. We also set the bar high for new urban development projects. Keeping maximum precipitation in place requires at least 7% of the draining surface. Here too, this will require a creative design of the environment and the buildings in order to balance space for water and greenery.

Ghent is working on the implementation of the vision memorandum 'Water in the City', which was drawn up together with De Vlaamse Waterweg (a Flemish agency responsible for rivers and canals. A number of thematic projects from 'Water in the City' contribute to climate adaptation, such as drawing up an integrated plan for the public domain with a vision on the integration of green and water elements that contribute to the sponge effect of the city and the drawing up of a rainwater plan, with a clear, coherent and future-oriented vision on (rain)water in the city.

Ghent is also finalising a 'drought action plan' that will give guidance on how to act fast and effec1 in order to tackle drought issues related to climate change.

For a long time, the debate on the sustainability of European Union Free Trade Agreements concentrated on the stand-alone ‘trade and sustainability’ chapter of these agreements. The critique centred around the fact that while the wording in these chapters is commendable, the promises made by the contracting parties are not binding nor enforceable. This leads to the observations that these chapters solely pay lip service to sustainability issues, effectively ‘greenwashing’ or ‘fairwashing’ the agreement as a whole. More recently, this stand-alone approach to sustainability is being strengthened with propositions to include separate chapters on sustainable food.

In the meantime, the discourse of civil society is gradually shifting towards mainstreaming sustainability concerns throughout the agreement, i.e. not limiting these elements to a separate chapter. While the enforceability of the ‘trade and sustainability’ chapters remains a contentious and much-debated topic, questions arise on whether trade agreements as a whole need a rethink. In addition, reflective questions are posed as to what extend trade policy is a good instrument for furthering the sustainability agenda.

Questions in need of answers in this regard:

  • Where lie the sustainability ‘blind spots’ in trade agreements (ecological, social, gender…)?
  • How can these blind spots be addressed?
  • How best to make contracting parties accountable to their promises?
  • What are the biggest blockers to mainstream sustainability issues in trade agreements?
  • Will a more democratic process of negotiating trade agreements lead to more sustainable results?
  • How to reinvigorate, strengthen and empower the CSO dialogue platforms?
  • How do you assess the new generation of EU trade agreements?
  • Can the EU promote its vision on sustainable development through trade agreements?
  • Is the EU asking enough from its trading partners?
  • Is international trade a friend or enemy of sustainable development?

Climate change is one of the main challenges of the current society and the energy transition from Climate change is one of the main challenges of the current society and the energy transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean energy sources is the key to stopping this trend. However, society is a great energy consumer and oceans are the principal energy container of the world. Effective harnessing of Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) sources is thus, the main goal.

Research on ORE systems is being held for the last decades. However, planning, installation and maintenance of ORE farms is complex and expensive, increasingly as they move further from thecoast, where greater resource can be found, and devices interrupt less the human activities in the sea.

The global objective to tackle this challenge is to facilitate the generation of Offshore Renewable Energy sources by improving the technology that leads to a cost reduction in theplanning, installation and maintenance phases.

The Joint Research Laboratory on Offshore Renewable Energy (JRL-ORE), a scientific community composed of researchers of TECNALIA, UPV/EHU and BCAM with the aim of boosting the researchin the field of Offshore Renewable Energy, will respond to this challenge by developing technologies that an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle needs for its use in Offshore Renewable Energy Inspection.

Keeping in mind our main objective of lowering the cost of Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) production, it is essential:

  • To lower the cost of the planning of offshore parks:
    • Both when selecting the area in which to locate the park
    • In the search for the precise location of each one of the devices.
  • To lower the cost of park maintenance:
    • By automating the inspection and maintenance of submerged structures and thereby automating the inspection and maintenance of submerged structures and their surroundings.

An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) could help in reducing the costs of such activities.Different technological and scientific challenges arise for having an efficient AUV:

  • Systems for the characterization of the seabed and its variation over time: coupling portable penetrometers, sensors, sample collection. Evaluation of sediment movement around submergedpenetrometers, sensors, sample collection. Evaluation of sediment movement around submergedstructures, characterize rock bottom fracturing for the selection of anchor zones in rock drilling.
  • Conceptual design of an AUV: suitable for underwater displacements, autonomous, withstand conceptual design of an AUV: suitable for underwater displacements, autonomous, withstandhigh pressures
  • Autonomy of AUVs (various challenges): underwater wireless recharging, offshore power sourcesand energy storage, underwater data transmission; and uncertainties: selection of best frequencies for underwater wireless, pressure effect on the equipment, calculation of losses in water, corrosive and conductive mean, etc.
  • Underwater vision systems: 3D digitization of the seabed, sensors and data processing to detectcracks and other damage. Detection of the degree of anchor penetration
  • Cleaning techniques: (elimination of biofouling) generation of pressurized water, coupling of arms/ tools
  • Positioning techniques in open underwater spaces (GPS)

One of the main scientific-technological challenges to achieve the costs reduction both in planning and maintenance of ORE farms is to characterize the seabed and its variation over time in anefficient and economical way.

To meet this main challenge, a series of secondary challenges must be addressed, such as:

  1. Develop a method to measure the inclination of rock layers on the seabed. This allows to know the structure of the rocks in the area, application in offshore renewables to anchor in rock, application in oil & gas and underwater construction, to prepare geological maps of the offshore
  2. Develop a method to measure the rock bottom fracturing network. This allows to evaluate the quality and resistance of the rocky massif. Application in offshore renewables to anchor in rock application in underwater construction
  3. Characterize the evolution of sedimentary bottoms over timeIt allows to evaluate the sedimentation and erosion processes in a given area and to know theeffect of the sedimentary dynamics in the submerged structures- Application in the detection of underwater landslides, application in the selection of sites for offshore farms- Application in maintenance of submerged structures: wind turbines, oil & gas platforms,submarine cables, outfalls, moorings, anchors, pipes, etc.
  4. Measure the mechanical and geotechnical properties of the seabedIt allows predicting what the behavior of the seabed will be before any type of human action in theenvironment (moorings, anchors, soundings, structures that lay on the bottom, ...) Application in any field that requires installing a structure or device on seabed that are coveredwith sediments (The applications of this challenge are enormous: Construction companies, mining companies, engineering companies, energy companies, electricity companies, oil companies, ports, fish farms ...)

As shown, in addition to the potential benefits for the offshore renewable energy sector, an efficient AUV will also benefit the oil & gas sector.


  • The challenge is envisaged as a collaborative project that allows to increase the key knowledge to develop the AUV.
  • It will stablish a challenge-based training programme, were individual small challenges will beproposed.
  • Last year university students will be involved within research groups towards solving each ofthe small challenges.
  • Partial projects will have the possibility of being the base of a doctoral thesis.

The first step of the research is developing a comprehensive review of the state of the art of the key aspects of the AUV, both, finding the frontier of knowledge of the key technologies, and looking att he key stakeholders of the whole chain. Involving not only research groups from the University ofthe Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Tecnalia and BCAM but also interested private companies willensure a comprehensive search for the solution to the described challenge and provide both theparticipants and the project itself with an interdisciplinary and multiorganisational added value.

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