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Sustainability: which role do scientists have to play in the fight against climate change?

  • 22.05.2018

How should scientists respond to the challenges of climate change? This question was asked to Jean-Paul Moatti at the Climate Initiative conference held on March 30th. Mr. Moatti is head of the Research Institute for Development (IRD). It was a good opportunity to shed the light on current environmental issues and to talk about two projects supported by the BNP Paribas Foundation, Tropicol and SoCa, which are led by researchers from the IRD.

The IRD, a research institute committed to a sustainable future

The French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) is a key French player in the international development agenda for human development and sustainability. This institute has an innovative model: it focuses on fair scientific partnerships with developing countries, notably those in the intertropical regions and the Mediterranean area. Indeed, well designed solutions are needed to face the challenges that humans and our planet are now facing.

Two research projects led by IRD researchers are supported by the BNP Paribas Foundation

8 research projects on climate change have been selected following the last call for projects in the frame of the BNP Paribas Foundation’s Climate Initiative program. Among them, Tropicol and SoCa are led by researchers from IRD.

The Tropicol project aims to collect unprecedented data on tropical climates over the past million years to better define regional climate changes and understand how the tropical forest has reacted to them. Researcher Marie-Pierre Ledru from the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier (UM/CNRS/IRD/EPHE) in France has been analyzing samples from Colônia in Brazil since 2000. Today, the tropical forest expert wants to go further by drilling down to 50 meters deep, which would enable to sample the succession of multiple glacial and interglacial cycles.

As for the SoCa project, its goal is to better understand the mechanisms of soil carbon sequestration in tropical agricultural systems and further improving practices in family-based agriculture. Led by Lydie Lardy (UMR Eco&Sols - Montpellier SupAgro/CIRAD/INRA/IRD), the project is coordinated by the National Research Institute for Sustainable Development and their numerous national and international partners. SoCa involves research centers and laboratories in Benin, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Madagascar and Senegal. 

TROPICOL - Brazilian Atlantic Forest that covers the entire coastline of Brazil from North to South.

Which role do other stakeholders have to play in the fight against climate change?

Faced with the powerlessness of certain States, new coalitions are formed with communities, private companies, foundations etc.”, warns Mr. Moatti. To his mind initiatives such as the Climate Initiative program of the BNP Paribas Foundation are extremely important. By helping researchers to conduct further research on their projects, environmental philanthropy encourages meetings and exchanges between the private and the public sectors. For example, the urgency to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is undeniable.   

Faced with the powerlessness of certain States, new coalitions are formed with communities, private companies, foundations etc.

Faced with the disengagement of certain States, first among them the United States, warns Mr. Moatti, the challenge will only be met by a new multilateralism with new coalitions of players including NGOs, scientists, politicians and financiers.” To increase the influence of scientific consensus in the global debate, the head of the Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) recommends offering them adapted means of communications such as a United Nations managed platform.

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