In 2015, IRD’s governance was completely overhauled and now firmly intends to refocus on its original purpose: research excellence for ‘development’. Interdisciplinary research, in close collaboration with local partners and ultimately aimed at ‘development’, helps tackle the contemporary challenges faced by societies in the Global South and North. This kind of research endeavours to facilitate closer relationships between scientists, policy-makers, civil society and economic stakeholders. In line with the principles of France’s scientific diplomacy, the aim is also to establish a partnership ‘for the long term, respecting the identity of all parties and based on the principles of co-learning […], co-design, joint planning, joint coordination, joint production, co-publishing, joint promotion, joint evaluation and of course, as far as possible, co-funding.’1
This vision goes hand-in-hand with a new international partnership approach, applied consistently with other French academic and research establishments.
IRD was present at the Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July, at the international conference on ‘Our Common Future Under Climate Change’ in Paris, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September, and at the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in December. It was active throughout the year, working alongside its partners to promote the voice of science in the international governance of sustainable development.
IRD was a stakeholder in the processes that led to the joint policy paper from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI) and the Ministry for National Education, Higher Education and Research (MENESR): Development through research: France’s ambition for scientific diplomacy. At the end of 2015, a new framework agreement was signed with the French development agency (AFD) to work with them to coordinate actions for implementation of the sustainable development agenda. IRD also strengthened its ties with Expertise France and with the French diplomatic network, at governance level and also through its representations.
IRD has assured its European partners of its commitment to coordinate research focused on development of the Global South. 17 projects were funded as part of the first round of calls for Horizon 2020. In Senegal, the EU delegation commissioned IRD to conduct a prospective study to support Senegal and the EU’s joint plan. To this end, a group of 30 researchers from Senegalese institutions and IRD will be put together.
Similarly, the Societies and Globalisation department won a call for tenders from the European Commission’s General Directorate for Development and Cooperation (DG DEVCO). This will call on IRD’s scientific expertise in sensitive contemporary issues linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.
IRD offers support in mounting H2020 and Europeaid projects The Institute also organised information days on Horizon 2020 calls for 2016 – 2017 in France and in Sub-Saharan Africa with workshops on mounting projects in Senegal and training for African national Horizon 2020 focal points in Ghana. Finally, IRD took part in the European Development Days, a major European event devoted to development in the Global South and a highpoint in the year, with a presentation session, a stand for the NOPOOR European project and the participation of Jean-Marc Châtaigner on the closing panel.
IRD conducted a wide-reaching survey within the United Nations (17 agencies, funds and UN programmes covered) looking at the governance of the UN system and the links between development actions and humanitarian interventions. The first round of results was presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the agency heads in New York in November 2015. It could inspire changes within the UN system. In addition, an IRD researcher was appointed to one of the four vice chairs of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Bureau of the Committee on Science and Technology at the Conference of Parties (COP) held in Ankara in October 2015.
Practical actions were undertaken in 2015 to strengthen partnerships with NGOs. In November 2015, the seminar on ‘Humanitarian Transition and Ethical Debates in Côte d’Ivoire: What Visions and What Perspectives?’ was organised jointly by the French Red Cross Fund, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI) crisis unit and IRD in Abidjan.
In New Caledonia, the Oreanet project, a participatory network to fight acanthasters, a type of starfish that preys upon coral, received financial backing from the New Caledonian government and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI) in 2015. This will help it extend its action across the region. In addition, an agreement was signed with NGO ENDA-Third World in Senegal.
IRD also takes part in the Convergences forum, a platform for thought, action and advocacy in Europe to develop a Zero exclusion, Zero carbon, Zero poverty world.
Although English tends to dominate in scientific discussions, in 2015 IRD actively contributed to the visibility and vitality of the French language. Ties have been strengthened with the University Agency for Francophonie (AUF) and the International Organisation of Francophonie (OIF), and with countries in the French-speaking world, such as Haiti.
A three-way agreement with the AUF and the Egyptian Science and Technology Development Fund was signed in Egypt. This will enable e a call for projects in 2016, targeting Egyptian, Lebanese, Jordanian and French researchers. Different topics will be covered: Water and water technology, renewable energy and green technology, health, and human and social sciences.
In Haiti, the AUF and IRD have been involved in various projects including support for the Haitian doctoral college (CDH). The initial evaluations of the laboratory sessions held in 2015 have helped promote a culture of research evaluation in Haiti. The CDH was founded in late 2011 and brings together 3 Haitian establishments (Haiti State University, Quisqueya University and Haiti Superior School of Infotronics).
From the report on Development through research: France’s ambition for scientific diplomacy. MAEDI-MENESR with the participation of IRD — November 2015. ↩