Environmental transition is a major societal challenge of the 21st century. To meet this challenge, it is necessary, on the one hand, to adopt an interdisciplinary approach from natural sciences to human and social sciences, and on the other hand, to enable the cooperation of the scientific community with social, economic and political stakeholders through cross-cutting participatory actions. Developing integrative research and training programmes combining these interdisciplinary and cross-cutting approaches is another necessity to achieve environmental transition. These three conditions are already fulfilled by Sorbonne University (SU) Institutions and will lay the foundation of the “Institute for Environmental Transition” (ITE). Moreover, the unique co-localization of institutions participating at ITE at the very heart of Paris is an opportunity and an asset to implement the cross-cutting and participatory approach of the Institute.
These three scientific structuring axes of our Institute are framing the idea of environmental transition, embracing all the scientific barriers which need to be taken down. Each axis considered independently is an uncompleted model insufficient to understand how the transition needs to be implemented. Therefore, what is fueling and emulating the construction of the SU-ITE is this systemic approach. One major challenge is to achieve coupling climatic models to biodiversity and society, in order to include relevant feedbacks. Development of such systemic models will require analysis of past conditions as well as performing new integrated monitoring of the environment. We also envision the modelling as a possibility of dialogues with decision makers, scientists, managers and users.
As such, the scientific program ise based upon participative and integrative sciences, will bridge gaps between science and societies around environmental transition and will rely on an active participation from social actors. Beyond this framework, time depth is a key notion in the understanding of relationships between biodiversity, climate change, resources and mankind. Consequently, we consider the notion of resilience of our past and current functional systems, jointly with its role into the environmental transition for the actors.