Solutions for a sustainable world

Sustainability: challenges and solutions

The « Solutions for a sustainable world » course (in French) is an introduction to the challenges of sustainability and the solutions identified so far, existing or needing to be developed to meet them. 

The course offers a summary of the scientific knowledge available on these topics. 

The course was designed as part of a training module for Bachelor-level students and is intended for anyone wishing to learn about these issues.

Course organisation. The course is divided into two parts, the space of problems and the space of solutions

It is important that the order be respected in order to understand the key teachings. Viewers should watch the episodes of each part one after the next to follow the thought process. Below is a list summarising each episode, together with a list of references to further explore each chapter. 

Various types of resources are available

  • To learn further: resource suggestions that can be browsed without any prior knowledge 
  • Expert mode: reports and scientific articles that require a degree of familiarity with this type of material 
  • Other sources of illustrations: links to the sources from which the images, videos and graphs illustrating the course were taken

Part I : The space of problems (in French)

The first part of the course introduces the nature, complexity, magnitudes, and interconnections between our major environmental issues. Understanding these planetary and natural limits allows us to determine the space within which human economic and social activities may develop. 

This part is divided into 4 episodes lasting about 30 minutes each and covering 8 chapters.

Episode 1/4 (in French)

The first episode introduces the notion of the Anthropocene. It presents the main demographic, economic, social, and environmental characteristics of human development. It then expands on the central role of energy in these transformation processes and explains how the biosphere functions.

Chapter 1. Introduction to the Anthropocene

Chapter 2. The central role of energy

Chapter 3. The core principles of the biosphere

Episode 2/4 (in French)

This episode introduces the scientific theory of planetary limits and its different components.
The exploration of the different orders of magnitude of humankind’s metabolism then begins with energy.

Chapter 4. Planetary limits

Chapter 5. The metabolism of humankind: orders of magnitude and limits of physical resources

  • 5.1 Energy

Episode 3/4 (in French)

In line with episode 2, this episode introduces the other physical resources and limits of humankind’s metabolism, namely mineral resources, greenhouse gases, climate change and the other types of pollution.

  • 5.2 Metals and other mineral resources
  • 5.3 Pollution
  • 5.4 Greenhouse gases
  • 5.5 Other pollution

Episode 4/4 (in French)

Lastly, this episode introduces the impact on the biosphere of the exploitation of resources coming from living organism, and its limits. It looks into humanity’s future needs and analyses some theoretical models and institutional frameworks that can help to build solutions to these global challenges. These will be further explored in the second (soon to be published) part.

Chapter 6. The metabolism of humankind: orders of magnitude and limits of living resources

  • 6.1 Biosphere
  • 6.2 Marine environments
  • 6.3 Land environments


Chapter 7. Future development needs

Chapter 8. Framing the solution space

Computational©Quentin Chevrier What possible solutions for a sustainable world?

How to use these videos?

These videos are made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivs 4.0 international license (CC by-NC-ND 4.0). 

  • The full original source must be linked when reusing
  • If reposting or sharing, proper credit must be given by providing a link to the license and indicating if any changes were made
  • Under no circumstances may the shared material suggest that the license holder approves of you or your use
  • If the videos are changed, altered, or otherwise transformed, they may no longer be distributed

Resources (in French)

In this PDF document you will find reference articles to deepen your knowledge on the topics presented in each episode, as well as the sources of their illustrations. 

Part II : The space of solutions (to be published soon)

The second part of the course will introduce the possible solutions to the issues presented in the first series of videos, as well as the characteristics of these solutions and the skills needed to achieve them.