Universidade de Lisboa


Coordinator: João Abreu e Silva

This thematic strand addresses issues related to the characterization, mitigation and adaptation to natural and societal changes, as they induce stress or even ruptures in the “business as usual” approach to the built and natural environment.

Those issues of particular interest concern the development of relevant policies and procedures, and design and operation of infrastructures for a sustainable interaction between man and nature. Climate change is of great importance as a driver, forcing adaptation measures in virtually all areas of economic activity and social life, and aggravating all the pre-existing problems caused by social and economic changes.

A greater awareness concerning the natural world, the scarcity of resources, the notions of limit and carrying capacity seems to conflict with the legitimate aspiration for a better quality of life. Complex natural and societal changes need deeper understanding and require complex responses across all domains and at multiple scales.

Science and technology, often a source of hope and sometimes suspicion, need to confront the gap between theory and practice, between policy and action. Developing more effective methods for dealing with uncertainty and risk assessments should lead to more flexible and effective answers.

The responses of R&D to those changes could be described through three main themes:

  • Understanding the complexity of natural and societal changes
  • Improving governance, seeking better integration of policies, new flexible planning and management tools
  • Enhancing the tools to respond adaptively to natural and societal changes