Updated 25/05/23

The IRD is an essential scientific point of contact on the European and international scene and contributes to research programming, works in synergy with institutions, develops influence campaigns and mobilises development operators in order to support public policies.

Leading name in research for development in Europe

The French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) works to influence European research policies and programs. The aim is to ensure that research for development issues are fully addressed in the European Union's strategies.

The IRD advocates for two things from Europe’s institutions to provide answers to the societal and global challenges common to the European Union and developing countries, particularly Mediterranean and African countries: for more cooperation with these developing countries via the Horizon Europe program on the one hand, and, on the other, for a stronger role for research in  the Global Europe program. 

Regarding Horizon Europe, the IRD focuses on topics where cooperation with developing countries is essential, such as climate change, natural resource depletion, biodiversity conservation, pandemic risks and the One Health approach, agroecology, and forestry. With respect to Global Europe, the IRD researches topics that resonate strongly with European Union Delegations in the targeted countries, such as climate change, agroecology, sustainable food systems, inequality, the One Health approach, and issues related to oceans and coastlines.

The programs are run by the IRD Europe Unit comprising the European Affairs Department (SAE), the Representation to the European Union in Brussels, and regional delegations.


Heighten Horizon Europe’s focus on SDGs 

Horizon Europe’s European research program must be more focused on collaborative research with developing countries to achieve the European Commission's “Open to the world” vision. Scientific progress with developing countries is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reducing inequalities between and in countries. To that end, the IRD urges for better international cooperation regarding these goals in the European Commission’s Horizon Europe 2021-2027 program.


Heighten Global Europe’s focus on science

The IRD calls for more research with developing countries in the Global Europe international cooperation program. Research is key to the implementation of inclusive sustainable projects that match partner countries’ needs.


Participation in European programs

The IRD actively participates in European calls for projects: the Horizon Europe framework program for research and innovation and the Global Europe program for cooperation and development.

During the last 2014-2020 program, the IRD secured funding for 73 projects with Horizon 2020 and participated in 39 projects funded by EuropeAid (which included 13 DeSIRA projects).

The IRD is also involved in other European programs, such as Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education (CBHE), LIFE, ESA/Copernicus, ERDF and Interreg, as well as Horizon Europe's various partnerships, including Biodiversa+, PRIMA, Water4All and EDCTP3.

  • Horizon Europe

    Horizon Europe is the European Union's research and innovation funding program for the period from 2021 to 2027. As the main instrument for European research, it has a budget of around €95.5 billion. It provides funding on the basis of four pillars:

    • Excellent science;
    • Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness;
    • Innovative Europe;
    • Widening participation and strengthening the European research area.

    In terms of the first pillar, IRD researchers are actively engaged in submitting scientific excellence projects to calls from the European Research Council (ERC) and researcher mobility and network projects (MSCA-Staff Exchanges). IRD researchers also submit collaborative projects in connection with the second pillar.

  • Global Europe

    The European Union and its member states represent the largest share of total official development assistance (ODA) worldwide, 56% to be exact. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) draws up European development policies and provides EU assistance through projects and programs around the world. 

    The IRD provides grants and funds service contracts through the Global Europe program, particularly:

    • Applied research: studies, developing innovations and new technologies, a multi-stakeholder approach in R&I ecosystems, compiling databases;
    • Application of research outputs: technical assistance, capacity-building and expertise by promoting application in public policy, the private sector, and civil society initiatives.
  • Erasmus+

    Erasmus+ is the European program for education, training, youth, and sport, with an overall budget of €4.43 billion in 2023. The IRD’s action is particularly pertinent to Capacity building in Higher Education (CBHE) which finances transnational cooperation projects to improve the quality of higher education and its relevance to the labor market and society. Projects must therefore contribute new skills or knowledge to improve employability, while also encouraging inclusive education and equity, and modernizing higher education systems to develop inter-institution and international cooperation.

    The amount allocated per project is up to €1 million depending on the scope. Capacity-building projects must involve higher education institutions from program member countries and non-associated third countries. They may also involve public or private bodies with affiliated entities (where applicable) active in the labor market or the fields of education, training, and youth in a third country which is not in the Erasmus program.

  • PRIMA: research and innovation in the Mediterranean into water, agriculture and food

    The Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) program is a partnership for research and innovation in the Euro-Mediterranean region. It focuses on food systems and water resources for sustainable and inclusive Mediterranean societies.

    The objective is to strengthen cooperation between Mediterranean countries in the field of research and innovation to develop innovative solutions that contribute to the challenges of sustainable food production, and water security in the Mediterranean region.

    19 countries participate in the initiative: Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Tunisia, and Israel.

    PRIMA has unlocked €494 million of funding for the decade spanning 2018 to 2028, including €274 million from participating States and €220 million from the European Commission.

    PRIMA covers three themes: water management, agricultural systems, and the agri-food value chain.

Europe-Africa Partnership

The African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) have been involved in an AU-EU Strategic Partnership since 2007, shaping future collaborations on topics of mutual interest. The eighth priority of this partnership covers science, the information society, and space.

The fifth African Union-European Union Summit took place in November 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, ten years after the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. At the summit, African and European leaders focused together on investing in youth for a sustainable future. This is a priority not only for the EU but also for Africa, where 60% of the population is under 25.

The other priorities defined by the AU-EU partnership are: peace and security; governance with particular interest in democracy, human rights, migration and mobility; investment and trade; skill development, and job creation.

The IRD attended five parallel events at the Abidjan Summit in 2017 concerning three key summit themes: governance, migration, and climate. During the summit, the IRD and its partners also met to launch an appeal to African and European authorities to provide enduring support for excellent research on the African continent.

A sixth EU-AU summit was held on February 17 and 18, 2022 in Brussels where heads of state and government from the European and African Unions confirmed the renewed partnership’s objective to build a common future addressing security, peace, solidarity, and sustainable development issues.

The summit also launched the EU-AU innovation agenda as part of implementation of the EU Global Gateway strategy which aims to boost cooperation between African and European research organizations.

The IRD has long been actively cooperating with the AU-EU partnership, thanks to its historical roots on the African continent and through various projects carried out with African scientific partners in the fields of health, nutrition, agriculture, climate observation, biodiversity, and migration.  In Brussels, the IRD encouraged the African Research Initiative for Scientific Excellence (ARISE), mirroring the ERC model.

> Contact the European Affairs Department (SAE)

Photo prise à l'occasion de la COP25

© DR

Encouraging the science of sustainability on the international scene

Internationally, the IRD works to consolidate its links both with international institutions committed to cooperation with development, particularly those in the United Nations system and bilateral or multilateral development banks, and with new stakeholders in development, of which foundations are in the front line. 

This international strategy, based on fair scientific partnerships, is devoted to two main objectives. The former involves publicising the positions and progress made in research in favour of SDGs with a view to nourishing dialogue between science and society and to providing tools to assist decision-makers. The latter aims to construct innovative partnerships and to mobilise resources in favour of the research projects it carries out.

The IRD's actions fall within a three-part effort that make it a unique operator in research for development: it is a legitimate member of the France team, and develops an interdisciplinary approach that is firmly rooted in the south. On the international scene, the IRD is thus in a key position in terms of responding to the challenges posed by the sustainable development agenda for 2030 and acting as a liaison between science and politics.

In this regard, the IRD contributes to fuelling France’s position, steered by one of its supervising authorities, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in major international debates, and participates actively in conferences on these issues. 


Contribution to intergovernmental scientific conventions and platforms

The IRD's international action is governed by three conventions reached at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 on biodiversity, climate change and desertification, three topics for which scientific expertise is essential and that are priorities for the IRD and its partners (academics, scientists and organisations from civil society). 

These conventions are followed up during conferences of parties (COP). The IRD is committed to assisting negotiations (contributing to the French position and supporting the training of negotiators in the South), realising scientific or lay publications and organising parallel events to present research projects associated with its partners in the South.

As an example, the IRD and its partners organised several parallel events during: 

The IRD also makes significant contributions to intergovernmental scientific platforms. IRD researchers regularly take part in the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which nourishes international dialogue between science and society on issues involving the protection of biodiversity.


Flagship conferences on the challenges on the 2030 agenda

The scientific diplomatic work done by the IRD extends beyond COPs, and the Institute also participates in the main international conferences on the major challenges on the 2030 agenda in order to put its expertise and southern situation to good use. 

The IRD regularly takes part in the High-Level Political Forum organised in New York every July. This forum constitutes the main “universal” political platform for supporting the 2030 Agenda and propose directions with a view to effectively implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In March 2019, the IRD took part in two major events in Nairobi: the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNAE) and the third annual One Planet Summit (OPS) 



FAO dialogue stratégique

© DR

Innovation as partners to achieve the SDGs

Science is proving indispensable for the implementation of international agreements and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The IRD's international ambitions centres around strengthening its institutional relationships and scientific collaborations with key players in development. This is why the IRD, convinced of the importance of the scientific issues it is supporting, its own interdisciplinarity and the international dimension of its research teams, is co-creating partnerships and projects with international funding bodies, coalition partners and foundations. 

With UN agencies and coalition partners 

The IRD works hand-in-hand with several international agencies and programmes, including those of the United Nations (FAO, UNEP, UNDP, WHO, etc.).

With bilateral and multilateral development funding bodies 

Running a search for excellence, consolidating our own research capacities and those of our partners and catalysing the dialogue between science and decision-makers requires creating partnerships that are constantly renewed and innovative projects. This is why the IRD orients its international action towards the bilateral and multilateral funding bodies for development, which act as financing vectors. 

With new development operators 

The IRD collaborates actively with new development operators, primary among which are sponsors and philanthropists, in order to establish dialogue between the two worlds of research and philanthropy that share the same desire for innovation.

> Contact the International Partners and Funding Bodies Department (SPBI)