Partners and territories

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d' Azur region covers the 6 departments of Alpes de Haute-Provence (04), Alpes Maritimes (06), Bouches-du-Rhône (13), Hautes-Alpes (05), Vaucluse (84) and Var (83), representing 963 municipalities over 31 400 km2.

From west to east, there are nearly 900 km of coastline bordering the Mediterranean. The coastal regions are followed by the low shores (the Camargue and Crau) and the high cliffs of the Calanques. In the north and east, mountainous regions prevail. The glacier valleys of the Hautes-Alpes peak at 4,102 metres. Between these two large complexes lies the inner Provence, formed by hills and hillsides. This exceptional territory is the subject of numerous protections and labelling with 8 regional nature parks, 4 national parks, 12 national nature reserves, 5 regional nature reserves and 3 biosphere reserves.

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d' Azur region has 4.9 million inhabitants, 90% of them residing in the 3 major metropolises of Marseille, Nice and Toulon, or in medium-sized towns with more than 20,000 inhabitants.

The four territories of the project

Aix Marseille Provence


The Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis comprises 92 municipalities, covering an area of 3,148 km2, i. e. 10% of the regional surface area. It is thus the largest metropolis in France: four times Greater Paris and six times Greater Lyon.

The metropolitan area has an exceptional and diversified geographical and landscape setting. In contrast to the numerous hilly massifs and their valleys to the east, the water bodies of the lagoon of Berre and the lagoon of Bolmon to the west stand out. The coastline, 255 kilometres long, alternates between industrial and port spaces (Fos-sur-Mer area, Grand Port maritime, port of La Ciotat) and picturesque natural spaces, including the famous calanques between Marseille and Cassis. The terrestrial territory is marked both by numerous natural areas, some of which are remarkable for their protection, and by strong, multipolar urbanisation.

With 1,850,000 inhabitants, Aix-Marseille-Provence is also the most populated of the regional metropolises. The two major urban centres, Marseille (858,000 inhabitants) and Aix-en-Provence (142,000 inhabitants) have a combined population of one million, or 54% of the city's population. However, the population growth of the metropolis, like that of the PROVENCE-ALPES-CÔTE D' AZUR region, has been declining for the last ten years with an annual growth rate of only +0.4%.

A land of contrasts, rich in its natural heritage as well as in the plurality of human activities that develop there, the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence is both a source of opportunities and a source of real stakes in terms of land use and development.

The challenges of the territory


" Preserving and enhancing our resources - For an attractive, sustainable and united metropolis at the heart of societal aspirations and the best way to live together "- AgAM - November 2017.

" Aix-Marseille-Provence, comprendre l' espace métropolitain ", Atlas cartographique - AgAM - June 2016.

Regards de l' AgAM n°39 - " Improving air quality A metropolitan scale challenge " - AgAM - October 2016.

The natural spaces of the metropolis are remarkable but under pressure from urbanisation, pollution, local and tourist traffic. On average, nearly 200 ha/year of agricultural and natural land was affected by urbanisation between 2006 and 2014. Moreover, they are fragmented by motorways, expressways, TGV lines, canals...

The high density of the population and its attachment to its territory translates into a very high use of natural spaces which become spaces for relaxation and leisure on land and water. There are many signs of deterioration: areas regularly burned down, uncontrolled landfills, water pollution, conflicts of uses... In order to preserve biodiversity and landscapes, many more or less restrictive regulatory protections on natural areas have been put in place: the Calanques National Park, the National and Regional Nature Reserves, prefectoral biotope protection orders, classified and inscribed sites correspond to strong site protection.

However, several sectors are still orphaned, especially in the north of the metropolis, such as the Trevaresse chain and the Rognes and Montaiguet massifs. Other areas are protected, but only partially: the Estaque chain, the Arbois plateau, the banks of the Berre pond and associated wetlands...

The challenge is to fill gaps in terms of protection and management of areas, in order to preserve the major balances in the structuring of the territory. The challenge is also to preserve and even restore the connections between these reservoirs of biodiversity, in the perspective of a green and blue grid of metropolitan scale. This issue takes on a particular dimension with climate change: some species will have to be able to migrate in order to adapt.

Moreover, on a territory heavily impacted by outdoor air pollution, classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization in 2013, the first challenge is health. Sustainable reduction of the population's exposure is essential to guarantee a quality living environment. This is particularly the case in urban centres, which are expected to be increasingly dense and which accumulate other nuisances such as noise and the phenomenon of heat islands. It is also about reducing environmental and spatial inequalities and improving the attractiveness of the territory. On the other hand, striving to comply with the air quality thresholds set by the European Union will avoid disputes with the European Court of Justice in France, as is currently the case with particulate matter. One of the answers is to conduct an integrated emissions reduction policy at a relevant territorial scale. Future reflections on housing, mobility and development policies in the development of the Metropolitan SCoT should contribute to providing more qualitative and respectful responses to environmental and quality of life issues. The challenge is also to integrate climate and energy policies in a double logic: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to current developments.

Finally, the metropolis is confronted with the more global challenge of adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change. Regional forecasts of increases in temperature, the frequency and intensity of heat waves or water stress will have an even greater impact on the urban population, due to their amplification in urban areas. The study and implementation of biases in climate change mitigation and resilience to their impacts is therefore a major challenge for the territory in the years to come.

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City of Marseille

Headquarters of the Aix Marseille Provence metropolis, the city of Marseille has established itself as the second most populous municipality in France with 860,000 inhabitants. Extending over 240 km2, Marseille is a territory of contrasts, vast and diverse, sheltering both a dense and very urban city center and remarkable natural spaces including the famous Calanques, raised since 2012 to the rank of National Park. The port city, enclosed between the waters of the Mediterranean on one side and the hilly massifs of L'Estaque, Etoile, Garlaban and Saint Cyr-Carpiagne on the other, has been developing for 2,600 years and has grown. imposes today as an essential economic pole of the regional territory and an increasingly popular tourist destination.

The challenges of the territory

The city of Marseille is experiencing multiple climatic challenges due to its characteristics, for example:

  • strong urbanization,
  • significant tourism activities,
  • natural spaces between sea and land weakened,
  • abiotic (climate, topography, hydrography) and ecological conditions (peri-urban hills covered with Mediterranean vegetation mainly composed of scrubland and pine forest) which induce significant natural risks (fire, flood).

To limit climate change, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at source must remain a priority in transport, housing, waste treatment, energy production, etc.

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Toulon Provence Mediterranée

The Toulon Provence Méditerranée metropolis includes 12 communes on a territory of 36,654 hectares. The metropolis has 437,460 inhabitants (source: INSEE, legal population in force as of January 1,2018), representing more than 40% of the population of the Var department.
Between sea and land, the territory classified as the most touristic in France has more than 200 kilometres of coastline and mountainous massifs offering hiking trails with an exceptional panorama.


The challenges of the territory

With a view to the future impacts of climate change, certain territorial issues are emerging as a priority for the metropolis. This includes issues such as air quality and health, water availability and quality, the safety of infrastructures and habitats, and the protection of natural and agricultural heritage.
In fact, the increase in average annual temperatures will be accompanied by a consequent decrease in the quantity of water available on the surface and underground. The water problem will also be qualitative, with a deterioration in the physico-chemical quality of the water, which could lead to a disruption of the drinking water supply, conflicts of uses, but also a significant disruption of aquatic ecosystems due to an increase in water temperature and a decrease in flows.
This average temperature increase will be associated with an increase in the frequency and duration of heat waves and heat waves. However, these phenomena have an impact on air quality and hence on the health of populations. Air quality degradation, particularly by ozone and fine particulate matter, could pose a threat to the health of fragile populations such as the elderly and young children.
Beyond the development of resilience to these phenomena, the challenge is also to adapt the lifestyles and human activities that contribute to them: reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants in the territory, reducing energy consumption, increasing the production of renewable energies.

In addition to water and air issues, these increases in temperature and decreases in annual precipitation lead to new challenges for agriculture, viticulture and the preservation of natural areas and biodiversity. These climatic changes could lead to yield losses (mainly in horticulture), quality and typicity of agricultural production. The loss of quality and typicity of the grapes represents a strong risk for viticulture as it could lead to the loss of AOC designations. They would also lead to a change in the ecological balance of natural environments and biodiversity (terrestrial and aquatic), as well as the possibility of introducing and/or developing invasive species.
Climatic hazards will also increase the risk of marine submersion and flooding. It is therefore necessary to anticipate and apprehend the issues of public safety and security and the protection of facilities, infrastructures and habitats. The adaptation of human activities, whether agricultural, viticultural, tertiary, industrial or tourist, to these risks of flooding and submersion is also an important territorial challenge.


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Nice Côte d'Azur

The Nice-Côte d'Azur Metropolis gathers 49 municipalities on 1,400km², that is to say a third of the surface of the Alpes-Maritimes county. It is home to 550,000 inhabitants, a majority of whom live in urban areas (79%), between Nice, Cagnes-sur-Mer and Saint-Laurent-du-Var.

The metropolitan area is an internationally recognised biodiversity hot spot. From the sea to the peaks of the Mercantour, it is very rich and varied, with 59 natural areas of ecological interest (6 of which are marine), over 80% of natural land areas, 48 km of coastline and 45 masses of surface water. It is also home to :

  • numerous protected areas: the Mercantour National Park (2,100 km² and 28 municipalities, 11 of which are metropolitan), the Regional Natural Park of the Pre-Alps of the Azur, 34% of the territory classified as Natura 2000 (13 Natura 2000 sites including 1 marine site spread over 38 municipalities of the Metropolis), the Pelagos sanctuary, 4 prefectoral decrees for the protection of biotopes;
  • numerous protected, endemic and remarkable species (Nice snow leopard, Strinati speleomante, ocellated lizard, etc.).

In addition to the variety of landscapes and places to live, three distinct areas can be distinguished by their geographical characteristics, the forms of occupation of the territory and the economic activities that develop there :

  • The coastline, marked by a strong tourist and economic attractiveness, a place of concentration of urbanity and economic activities in the metropolitan area.
  • The Middle Country - whose agricultural activity must be preserved by creating agricultural zones adapted to the areas concerned (restanques, terraced gardens) - also has significant tourist potential due to its exceptional landscape qualities: Baous, hills, hilltop villages.
  • The Haut Pays Montagnard, characterised by natural areas and a very rich biodiversity, which is the object of specific protection, notably with the Mercantour National Park, and where the economy is based on agricultural, forestry and pastoral activities, as well as winter sports resorts.

The challenges of the territory

The strategic challenge posed by climate risk is considerable at the territorial level: the environmental, economic and social impacts have a direct influence on the quality of the living environment of the inhabitants and the preservation of local resources. It is therefore necessary to anticipate and adapt to the potential impacts of climate change on the territory.

On the strength of its wealth, its geographical diversity and its metropolitan organisation particularly adapted to the challenges of this territory, the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis has chosen to move towards an innovative and virtuous development model. This model, integrating all its specificities, is reflected in the metropolitan PLU. By confronting the knowledge and expertise of the Mercantour National Park, the Regional Natural Park of the Pre-Alps of the Azur and its services, the Metropolis will be able to preserve and reinforce biodiversity and ecological networks at all scales, by constituting a continuous functional green and blue framework, despite the strong distinctions between the stakes linked to the coastal facade and those of the High Country. The first challenge for the Metropolis lies in its ability to protect, manage and enhance the richness and diversity of this natural and urban landscape heritage. Various tools are currently being put in place, be it the Mercantour National Park, the Plaine du Var OIN, the Bay Contract or the River Contracts.

The complexity of the interactions between biodiversity and climate makes it difficult to identify the most fragile areas on a territorial scale. It is therefore necessary to improve our knowledge of the species that may be impacted by the effects of climate change.

Having structuring skills in terms of development and planning, the Metropolis has integrated a climate component into the prospective studies initiated at the territorial level (SCOT, PLUM, etc.). Situations of thermal discomfort are likely to have a greater and more regular impact on the quality of the inhabitants' living environment (appearance of urban heat islands). Thus, from today, the priority is to anticipate building methods and neighbourhood development so that the quality of life will be the same in a few years' time.

At the same time as the reduction of agricultural activities on the territory, there has been an increase in the surface area of forested areas. Despite this correlated dynamic, these two sectors are largely dependent on climatic conditions. Climate change can be positive, offering new conditions of productivity in the area. Nevertheless, negative effects impact on the latter: productivity, geographical distribution, etc. Forest management and land use planning must take these trends into account today in order to adapt practices and reduce the vulnerability of forest stands (to dieback, fire risk, etc.). Thus, climate change is exacerbating a dynamic of pressures already under way on agricultural activities.

Tourism is largely linked to local climatic conditions, which constitute an essential criterion for the choice of tourist destinations. A change in the climatic parameters could lead to significant changes both in the calendar of tourist frequentation (lengthening of the summer season, increase in "out of season" frequentation) and in the distribution of flows over the territory (search for coolness in summer in the mountains for example, or the rise in altitude of winter tourist activities) and possibly in the nature of tourist activities (new practices, abandonment of certain...). Impacts on the territory would be foreseeable, especially for the activity of mountain resorts, largely dependent on climatic conditions.

Climate change, through the extreme events that may occur and the expected warming, will undoubtedly affect human health. The health risks linked to these changes will be accentuated and new health phenomena, which are currently difficult to predict, could even appear. The PACA region, and more specifically the territory of the Metropolis, is particularly concerned by the risk of emergence or extension of certain infectious pathologies whose vectors are already present around the Mediterranean. Moreover, an increase in the number of people vulnerable to heat is expected, following the rise in temperatures, coupled with the ageing of the population and the concentration of populations in urban areas (InVS, 2010). Coupled with a vulnerable (elderly) population, these foreseeable effects of climate change on populations require the indispensable mobilisation of the health sectors to address this issue on the scale of the Nice Côte d'Azur metropolis.

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Le rapport développement durable de la Métropole :éveloppement-durable/l