Smart urban coastal sustainability days 2020 – Interdisciplinary approaches to the understanding of coastal systems

4-5 juin 2020 – Université La Rochelle

More details on each session are available on « My submission » page

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Smart urban coastal sustainability is the scientific theme chosen by La Rochelle Université for its scientific positioning. This “signature” is an answer to the societal challenges of environmental transition, energy transition, and digital transformation. La Rochelle Université promotes a complementarity and interdisciplinarity approach to these major societal challenges. The University has developed its high-level expertise in various disciplinary fields concerning the environment, digital technology, engineering, social sciences and the humanities.

 “Les rencontres Littoral Urbain Durable Intelligent” have been organised since 2018. In 2020 they are part of the European university for Smart Urban Coastal Sustainability (EU-CONEXUS, coordinated by La Rochelle Université and become “The smart urban coastal sustainability days”. During these scientific conference researchers and experts from all disciplines will have the opportunity to discuss the challenges and issues related to sustainable development in coastal areas.
Moreover, these workshops will provide a great opportunity for the researchers of the European University to meet, to network and to lay down the foundations of the future EU-CONEXUS Joint Research Laboratories. The challenges linked to sustainable development in coastal areas are deeply interdisciplinary. This is why the conference will address four main topics covering different aspects of smart urban coastal sustainability and is organised in four sessions: (1) Coastal hazards and risks, (2) Coastal cities and infrastructures, (3) Coastal ecosystem services and (4) Coastal societies.

1. Coastal hazards and risks

Coastal zones host a growing part of the world population, despite increasing erosion and flooding risks associated with sea-level rise and local changes in storminess in a context of climate change. As other regions in the world, European coastal areas and seas have been changing over the time, under both natural processes and centuries of human activities, such as polderisation, dredging or shoreline artificialization. The ongoing sea-level rise makes coastal areas more exposed and vulnerable to coastal hazard and dreads the sustainability of urbanized coastal areas. In this context, this workshop will bring together scientists and students to share the latest progress and discuss new ideas dealing with coastal hazards and risks.

2. Coastal cities and infrastructures

In this session, we address the challenges related to coastal cities and their associated infrastructures in terms of: (2a) their sustainability with regards to their challenging context, (2b) their digitalization strategy with regards to their specific settings, and (2c) their management with regards to their heterogeneous population formed by residents, secondary inhabitants and tourists.

Hereafter, you will find the description of the topics for which we are expecting contributions for this session.

2.a. Sustainable coastal cities and infrastructures

All coastal environments’ structures (alloys, concrete, industrial structures…) are subject to specific problems associated with the intrinsic aggressiveness of seawater towards materials. However, due to sea spray, the effects of the marine environment on materials constituting these structures are not restricted to the immediate vicinity of the sea. Atmospheric corrosion processes are affected by seawater as far as many 10 km, even more accounting for prevailing winds from the shore.

In addition, increasing concentration of population in coastal areas makes the management of their energy consumption a key global challenge. The associated growth of urban areas has amplified urban microclimate development. The microclimate phenomenon known as Urban Heat Island (UHI) is characterized by higher temperatures in urban areas than in rural areas.

2.b. Smart coastal cities and infrastructures

By 2050, 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas, from which an important part will live at less than 100km from the coastline. To support such a rapid growth, many cities concentrates their efforts in creating and adopting digitization strategies with the aim of enhancing the quality of life of its citizens and fostering local economies and businesses. Indeed, Smart Cities initiatives provide the catalyst for urban communities to become more resilient and sustainable, affording economic efficiencies, environmental innovations, fresh economic activity, and 21st century jobs. City Smartification concerns all the processes that rules urban life and operations, with some of these being purely related to coastal area. This session will provide a forum for presenting and discussing how information and communications technologies advances are becoming the key enablers for such Smartification, allowing coastal city dwellers interacting with their cities seamlessly.

2.c. Management of coastal cities and infrastructures

The development of urban areas gives rise to a new challenge for local government, socio-economic organizations and urban planners. In one way the concentration of activities in cities provides numerous and various amenities for citizens but also job opportunities and leisure/cultural activities. On the other hand, this concentration increases transport congestion, rents and inequalities. Social sciences have a lot to say about these transformations, especially for coastal cities which face additional challenges with the massification of tourism and environmental issues. This session will give opportunities to discuss these changes but also the role of digital technologies, both as a solution and a concern, to address these issues.

3. Coastal ecosystem services

Coastal areas provide provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural ecosystem services which are important, not only for local communities, but also for the wellbeing of whole nations. However, coastal ecosystems are expected to be heavily affected by climate change in the future, but also by many other threats related to natural and human disturbances. As a result, ecosystem services will be altered as well. The main goal of this session will be to assess and analyse the evolution of coastal ecosystem services in a context of the global change and of human influences in the functioning of coastal ecosystems. Aims will be to analyse the pros and the cons related to assessments based on ecosystem services, in order to highlight the potential limits of such assessments, and to determine how such assessments could be improved to better address issues at the scale of the socio-ecosystem.

4. Coastal societies

For many centuries, the societies living on the coasts have co-evolved with the ecosystem, each of them forcing the evolution of the others, in terms of socio-cultural flux, « natural » resources, and material constrains. The contemporary era of Anthropocene redefines this nexus of societies and coasts, bringing new and reinforcing old societal risks and inequalities. Contributions to this thematic session are expected to propose a retrospective approach and present analysis about the urban and rural societies living on the coasts, their uses of the coastline for work or leisure, the cultural and imaginary constructions to which they gave shape, the challenges of and for their management (especially in terms of cultural heritage) and long-term preservation and development.

More details on each session are available on « My submission » page

The conference will take place on the 4th and 5th of June 2020 at La Rochelle Université. Abstract submissions open on 20th January and will be closed on 15th March. General registrations open on 20th of January 2020 and will be possible until 15th of May 2020.

In order to register for the conference and/or submit an abstract:

1) you must first log in (link at the top left) and create an account for external users.

2) Once connected, a new menu entitled « REGISTRATIONS » will appear under the « PRESENTATION » menu. You can manage your registration and abstract submission under this menu.

Registration fees are 90 € per person. It covers the 2 conference days with coffee and lunch breaks. Registration fees for the conference are free for members of EU-CONEXUS partner universities. Registration is mandatory on the online application.

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