Community Challenges

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,

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.


The main objective is the design and development of a creative platform (Living Lab) with activities and solutions that encourage the local economy and culture towards a sustainable specialization in Urdaibai’s Biosphere Reserve- Basque Country, listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.


To achieve a “plastic free” environment in UBR that encourages the emergence of new sustainable and circular economy opportunities for this area involving end users: citizens, local businesses, etc.

Context and framework

The Urdaibai estuary where the UBR is located is a natural area formed by the mouth of the River Oka, that occupies a surface area of 220 km² and has impressive ecological assets that have allowed it to be listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Gernika represents the most important urban centre in Urdaibai.The Biosphere Reserve law establishes a set of sustainability measures that reinforce the scientific, cultural and recreational importance of this type of territory and at the same establish very specific frameworks for its development.The UBR is a reference for environmental sustainability and represents a great added value for the territory and its citizens. However, due to its regulatory framework, it is an important challenge to incorporate this territory into the logic of competitiveness, specialization and sustainable development promoted by local administrations.The aim is to identify needs and opportunities that consider the particular regulatory context of this protected area in order to contribute to its coherent integration into local policies for sustainable development and competitiveness.

Main expected actions are:

  • Leverage and mobilize existing creative solutions (enabling technologies) to not only address the challenge of plastic pollution, but to transform it into a resource for the creation of new creative and green business models.
  • Leveraging and mobilizing new creative solutions / technologies / methods / cutting-edge services to support the creation of a creative circular economy model in the Urdaibai environment.• Leveraging and mobilizing new creative solutions / technologies / methods / cutting-edge services to support the creation of a creative circular economy model in the Urdaibai environment.
  • Reinforcement of citizen science crowdsourcing models through the collection and publication of data on possible interventions in the circular economy.

Upcoming project engaging several community stakeholders

Upcoming project engaging several community stakeholders:Since 2018, GAIA has been one of the agents proposing real challenges within the framework of the intensive training itinerary based on blue economy challenges proposed by the Ocean i3 educational innovation project which is developed in collaboration between the University of the Basque Country, the University of Bordeaux and Euskampus Fundazioa.Based on the collaboration of more than 3 years with the Ocean i3 project, the development of this challenge can relay in a first circle of stakeholders and learning community by the involvement of the Ocean i3 enlarged community (students, teachers, researchers and public and private territorial social agents) participating in Ocean i3 in order to promote transdisciplinary and collaborative learning, research and intervention projects that are integrated into the dynamics of the UBR Creative Living Lab.


The activities could be classified into 5 main axes:

  1. Skills, education and research: Creative and Sustainable skills development
  2. Development / Integration of creative solutions (Technology)
  3. Business support and financing
  4. Promotion, awareness and public participation
  5. Policy and regulation

Promoting partners

  • GAIA: ICT cluster in the Basque Country, driver of the Ozean Lab and expert in citizen engagement and Living Lab methodology
  • Rivages ProTECH: develops environmental monitoring technologies to compile data for better decision making
  • Gernika-Lumo Municipality: Gernika represents the most important urban centre in Urdaibai. The Gernika-Lumo’s council is committed to the field of new technologies as a vector for social cohesion and integration and developing opportunities for advancement for all who have something to contribute to the culture, economy or coexistence
  • Ocean i3 project: mobilizes an annual average of 45 undergraduate and postgraduate students and their faculty mentors from 16 different disciplines coming from 2 universities (University of the Basque Country and University of Bordeaux) and at least 25 public and private stakeholders. This enlarged community works in teams to contribute to challenges from cross boarder Basque Country and New Aquitaine regions’ blue economy.

In the city of Bratislava we believe that public servants could become a fuel for change in the cities. They need to be well educated in topics such as digitalisation, power of those tools in everyday life, climate change and its impact on the cities and circular economy as a new way of consuming goods.

Radical innovation in technology and the economy can enable social transformation. To tackle the big challenges society faces, we need to embed social innovation in business models. We need to think differently about social business and shift the mindset of investors and consumers to move away from the 3rd sector towards a more sustainable business model, which is “Social Enterprise”.

Drawing on the existing capacity in AI, big data and analytics, associated with SFI research centres, there is a clear opportunity to develop a virtual ‘Living Lab’ within the region. As part of a European network, this will enable iterative testing of new ideas across the region, offering a single point of contact to coordinate data research at scale in a living lab. A key enabler at a global level for a living lab as a data testbed is the protections offered by GDPR as the main English speaking country within the EU.

No later than the year 2030, emissions of greenhouse gases from energy use, transport and work machines within the geographical area of the City of Uppsala shall be zero and based on renewable energy sources.

 Gotland is aiming for a decentralised, resilient and smart energy system, based on renewable energy sources. Local energy communities, as local energy cooperatives in active interaction with end-users, are expected to play an active role in the desired the energy system transition.