Societal challenges

More than ever, the harmonious development of human societies depends on our capacity to live together and share public space and time, quite as much as resources. Society is becoming not only increasingly mobile, urbanized, globalised and digital, but also more and more participative, environmentally responsible, aware of the limited nature of its resources and safety conscious. In addition – at least in developed countries – populations are ageing rapidly. Each of these factors is a challenge for the 21st century.

IFSTTAR has made a non-exhaustive list of the areas where it could make a valuable contributi

  • Mitigating climate change, adapting to it and limiting energy demand.
  • Protecting our built heritage and making it versatile, increasing the resilience of systems.
  • Preserving biodiversity and natural resources.
  • Enhancing living environments and reducing sociospatial inequalities at various scales.
  • Responding to demographic changes, improving public health and human safety.
  • Adapting to and implementing technological and socioeconomic changes to improve the design of public space and transport.

Its role of advancing, disseminating and exploiting knowledge in the area of human and freight transport, urban and non-urban spatial planning and networks, both physical (transport, energy, water) and non-physical (expertise and knowledge), makes IFSTTAR able to play a part in taking up these major challenges which it will tackle while giving a central role to considering people in their spatial and social setting. 

IFSTTAR’s role is to “carry out, direct, commission and evaluate research, development and innovation in the areas of urban engineering, civil engineering and construction materials, natural hazards, the transportation of persons and goods, systems and means of transport and their safety, infrastructure, and to investigate their uses and impacts from the technical, economic, social, health, energy and environmental points of view”.

After in-depth thought and consultation, both within the Institute and with the outside world, IFSTTAR’s management bodies approved the Institute’s ten-year scientific strategy. This strategy is the road map for the Institute’s research in the next 10 years. It will, of course, be modified as time moves on, as new issues come to the fore and as the scientific environment evolves.