Opening the black box of the environmental governance in face of global change

A contribution from science to the understanding of unsustainability pathways

> Human/environment interactions - Ecological solidarity - Social-ecological systems - Governance - Adaptive management

© Pierre Gleizes

Apolimer is an international and interdisciplinary Observatory based on a network of researchers in natural and social sciences studying the governance of coastal and marine territories and resources towards (un)sustainability. Using the framework of social-ecological systems, it fosters adaptative management in order to develop pathways to sustainability. To this end, the network seeks to shed light on the balance of power in the governance of marine environments.


Built on three pillars (research, training and valorisation), Apolimer gathers members from several French research organisms as well as some foreign partners. Noticing that the social sciences of the politics are few represented in the study of « the seas and oceans governance », this Observatory aims to structure the researches and the actions to improve the sustainable management of the maritime areas, the marine environment and the biological and mineral resources. It echoes with the sustainable development objective n°14 (aquatic lives – UNO), which we analyse the foundations and the variations from international to local scales.

The group explores the contemporary fabrication of the different forms of governance of the seas with an attention to the marine resources management (halieutic, mineral, …) between exploitation and conservation. Mobilizing the social sciences (anthropology, political sciences, sciences studies), we are interested by the actors, groups and networks who « make » the governance of seas and oceans in the contemporary period.

The dispositions, resources and constraints, values, arguments and strategies are grasped with a social-anthropological approach and a consideration of ecological variables in the decision making and the collective action through permanently relationships between natural sciences researchers and environmental engineers. 

Apolimer has been funded by the UBO, the INEE French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and La Rochelle University’s Research Federation for Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development (FREDD). It is hosted by the Littoral Environment and Societies laboratory (LIENSs) at La Rochelle University and led by coordinators in the field of sustainability science based in La Rochelle at LIENSs and in Brest at LEMAR.


Apolimer is composed of international scholars of various domains of expertise. Some specialize in social sciences, in such fields as anthropology, political science, law, sociology, geography and international relations, while others are experts of natural sciences, namely ecology, biology, and biogeochemistry.