‘Partnership with the IRD is different’

In 2015, my first year at the head of the IRD, I had the privilege of witnessing not only the quality of the work produced with our scientific partners in developing countries but also the intense relationship that exists with our institutional partners. When talking to politicians and the heads of the scientific institutions and universities with which we work, we often hear that, ‘partnership with the IRD is different’. 

During this first year, I was pleased to see that the model offered by the IRD does in fact offer a real alternative: one of the IRD’s main strengths is its in-depth knowledge of the countries in which it operates, which is attributable to a historical and continuous presence in the field that dates back to the time of our predecessor, ORSTOM. We are thereby able to adapt the broad goals of the international development agenda to the situation and challenges that exist on a local level, as we demonstrated at COP 21 and as shown by our response, which was coordinated with all French public research bodies, to epidemics such as Ebola and Zika.

To strengthen this position yet further, the IRD launched a reorganisation process in 2015 so that everyone could find his or her place and contribute to the modernisation of the establishment’s governance and management with a common outlook: to make the IRD an indisputable and strategic part of our country’s development aid and research policy and an essential channel through which all French and francophone research is projected towards developing countries.

Last year, 2015, was also marked by an upturn in our scientific work. It is not that the IRD was waiting for the arrival of the new governing body to increase its scientific output, particularly in the form of joint publications with partners in the South, as well as the relevance of this output with regards to development challenges, given the fact that its research topics chiefly concern the intertropical and Mediterranean zone. This dynamic is not new. However, I do believe that we have reignited the IRD’s ability to play a highly original role, thanks to its structure, in the global landscape of scientific research. 

It is our ability to work together, with our French partners and partners in developing countries, particularly on the boundaries of the various disciplines and on the boundaries of pure science and applied science, where new scientific ideas often tend to emerge, which will make the IRD a major player in a world of science that is, more than ever before, committed to the service of sustainable and human development. 

Jean-Paul Moatti, Chairman and Executive Director of IRD