The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is holding its World Congress from 3 to 11 September 2021 in Marseille. This major event is held every four years and sets priorities to guide nature conservation and sustainable development activities. IRD has made biodiversity one of its priorities for research, training and scientific diplomacy. As a member of the international IUCN since 2019 and of the French IUCN Committee since 2020, IRD and its partners are actively involved in this new edition of the Congress.
Editorial by Valérie Verdier, President and CEO of IRD
"Congress will be held with this in mind, as the world is in the grips of a global virus. The event provides a forum for debate and cooperation among the various stakeholders and citizens who strive to preserve and conserve biodiversity.
For Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD – the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development), this event is an opportunity to emphasise our unique approach to achieving excellence in biodiversity research and consolidate our leading role in scientific diplomacy for this high-priority agenda, just months ahead of COP15.
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Of all the global environmental challenges we face today, protecting biodiversity is probably one of the most complex, since it combines global trends and more specific local contexts and knowledge. It calls for radical changes in the relationships and interactions between the various stakeholders in society and biodiversity. By studying ecological, social, economic and political mechanisms, the Sustainability Science developed at IRD can help us work together to think about and design more sustainable, fair and ethical solutions to preserve and conserve biodiversity.
Our Institute studies the science of sustainable solutions based on a cross-cutting interdisciplinary approach. The aim is to underscore the pertinence and effectiveness of the integrated research approaches, particularly in biodiversity, drawing on the Institute's equitable partnership model encouraging coalitions between South-North and South-South stakeholders. It also makes the voice of IRD and our Southern partners heard in discussions to help shape ongoing negotiations and promote a more "inclusive" discourse in decision-making bodies.
At the IUCN, IRD will clearly position itself in scientific debates - on the restoration of coastal mangrove ecosystems, the resilience of Mediterranean communities based on pastoral commons and the collaborative management of African deltas - through its participation in the Forum sessions. The expertise of our researchers will also be expressed through positioning that reflects our rich interdisciplinary approach, and taking greater account of local knowledge in motions put the vote in the Members' Assembly. Lastly, we are actively involved in strengthening the dialogue between science and society through our wide array of programming in the Nature Generation Areas and the Biodiversity Dome."
Biodiversity in the Global South: Research for a Sustainable World
Biodiversity is a key concern for IRD. The partnership research we conduct focuses primarily on the role of biodiversity in tropical and Mediterranean ecosystems. Questions are posed at various levels, based on an approach of long-term observation, experimentation and modeling.
The book Biodiversity in the Global South - Research for a Sustainable World, published by IRD, outlines important advances and solutions developed through biodiversity research conducted via a global, ethical and sustainable approach. It explores biodiversity through four major themes: tools for research and observation, protection issues, interactions with health issues and links to food.
The tools used and developed by IRD to study biodiversity are focused on large-scale data gathering – something which is too often lacking in the Global South – as well as improving the use of these tools and supporting their dissemination and appropriation among stakeholders in our partner countries. Cross-sector approaches combine biodiversity data with many other phenomena: climate change, land use change, deforestation, etc. Similarly, the complexity of ecological processes leads us to favour innovative technologies like artificial intelligence to better understand how they work, or original technologies such as audio recording to assess the current state of biodiversity. These tools are also designed to act as interfaces with biodiversity stakeholders, like the Nagoya Protocol which sets out the conditions for the scientific uses of biodiversity resources and the need to share the benefits of such uses. Other instruments combine the participation of naturalists and image analysis software, such as the Pl@ntNet application.
At IRD we understand that protecting biodiversity is not simply a matter of conservation focused on uninhabited spaces. On the contrary, we consider the protective potential of certain anthropic practices (such as using waste water for fertilizer), the risks that other activities can pose to protected areas (such as wildlife tourism in isolated islands) and above all, the importance of ensuring that regulatory and legislative measures align with the challenges of social appropriation. At the same time, IRD is also focused on protecting mobile species, from the impact of fishing on marine birds to the eco-technical networks created by invasive species.
Health is arguably one of the fields in which recent advances have been the most significant. They are closely interconnected with biodiversity, as the Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately illustrated. IRD has been involved in research in this field for many years, for example by demonstrating the negative correlation between biological diversity and the risk of diseases transmitted between animals and humans, and examining connections between infectious diseases and the intestinal ecosystem known as the microbiota. In the medical field, IRD has also closely studied the connections between health and social issues, such as studies on ethnopharmacology.
Food is another domain in which the interactions with biodiversity are multi-faceted, with implications that are at the very core of sustainability policies. IRD is involved in the study of socio-ecosystems which may appear marginal in comparison to the dominant approaches in biodiversity policy, but which prove to be crucial, both to biodiversity and to feeding people in these areas. This is the case in agro-forests, mangroves and the specific pastures of the grassy zones just below the glaciers of the Andes. Sustainable food systems must be adaptable (as shown by studies on fishing in Peru), integrated (like the experiments conducted based on sustainable aquaculture or the consideration of the biological diversity of soils) and political (when researchers from around the world sequence the genome of rice to ensure that it is not privatized). At the same time, IRD has focused on maintaining the diversity of genetic resources and understanding mechanisms that could help reduce reliance on petrochemicals, for example by studying cases of plant-bacteria symbiosis that can produce natural fertilizers.
Taken together, the examples explored in this volume make it clear that biodiversity can no longer be considered as a scientific topic specific to any one discipline or sector. Instead, it must be explored through its connections with all of the primary dynamics, whether human or non-human, which shape the global and local changes we face today. The commitment to sustainability made by IRD is, we hope, a modest contribution to the daunting but fascinating endeavour of understanding, conserving, preserving and promoting the value of biodiversity!
PREZODE (Preventing ZOonotic Disease Emergence) is an international initiative that addresses all of the challenges related to the prevention, monitoring, early detection and rapid response to risks of zoonotic pandemics.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced the initiative at the One Planet Summit in January 2021. It is supported by the President of the European Commission and the General Director of the FAO.
PREZODE promotes a paradigm shift in the way we approach emerging risks: by prioritizing prevention and the bottom-up development of health policies in keeping with the recommendations of the report on biodiversity and pandemics published by IPBES (October 2020).
Vision and goals (read more about it):
PREZODE will help coordinate a large portfolio of national, regional and international projects focusing on the emergence of infectious zoonotic diseases and implement innovative methods to improve prevention and address emerging risks. The initiative will bring together the various stakeholders to create synergy with and between current programs. PREZODE will include:
- A scientific and operational framework to coordinate research projects, health networks and field operations to enhance the integrated approach and maximize impact
- A platform to share knowledge acquired through previous, current and future projects and build on the achievements and pilot actions of various parts of the world
- A resource centre available in particular for One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP, developed by the FAO, OIE, WHO and UNEP), to facilitate the development of recommendations for policy makers
PREZODE is an open initiative aimed at bringing together all of the relevant stakeholders who seek to help prevent the emergence of zoonoses. Interested parties may show their support by signing the PREZODE declaration of intent (https://prezode.org/).
>> IRD is a member of the PREZODE steering committee, along with INRAE and the Cirad.
Benjamin Roche, Benjamin Roche, biologist at IRD (MIVEGEC), expert for the IPBES report on biodiversity and pandemics, One Health scientific advisor at IRD, will speak at the session "Health of the Biosphere, Animals and Man" Session, 5 September 6.30 pm - 7.30 pm at the Pavillon France stand.
IRD at the World Conservation Congress
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is holding its World Congress from 3 to 11 September 2021 in Marseille. This major event is held every four years and sets priorities to guide nature conservation and sustainable development activities.
The Congress has a unique inclusive make-up: States and government agencies, civil society organisations and indigenous peoples. The Members of IUCN have a strong mandate and vote on motions on urgent conservation and sustainability issues, within the framework of an Assembly that constitutes the highest decision-making body of the Congress.
This Congress is exceptional on many levels: for France, which is hosting the event for the first time since the IUCN was founded in Fontainebleau in 1948; for global environmental diplomacy, since it is the first hybrid event (in-person and virtual) related to the environment since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic; and to prepare the crucial upcoming United Nations conferences on biodiversity and the climate, COP 15 and COP 26 respectively.
This edition of the IUCN Congress will cover seven themes: climate change; freshwater; landscapes; oceans; rights and governance; economic and financial systems; knowledge, innovation and technology.
IRD, whose headquarters is located in Marseille, is a multidisciplinary French public research organisation that has made biodiversity one of its priorities for research, training and scientific diplomacy. As a member of the international IUCN since 2019 and of the French IUCN Committee since 2020, IRD and its partners are actively involved in the various spaces and components of the Congress: the Forum, a global space dedicated to innovation and the science of conservation; the Exhibition, where participants present their work to attendees and the public; the Members' Assembly, in which motions are put to the vote; the Nature Generation Areas, open to the general public.
Highlights of our participation in the Forum
This hub of public debate will run from 4 to 7 September to discuss and develop innovative, scalable solutions to the world's most pressing conservation and sustainability challenges. A wide range of engaging interactive sessions are planned:
- Thematic sessions will focus on the seven main themes of the Congress. These sessions aim to develop the ideas presented in the Thematic Plenaries by involving participants, who will be encouraged to share their knowledge and know-how.
- Speaker pitches will give participants an opportunity to showcase their conservation work and achievements (such as innovations and solutions), community and local initiatives, policy and governance reforms, traditional and indigenous knowledge, new and more sustainable business models, initiatives that inspire ethical behaviour, latest technologies, emerging multi-sector partnerships and more.
>> 4 September - 4 pm - 5.30 pm: Global pressures on mangroves and their communities: solutions from conservation and restoration (Climate Change // Knowledge, Innovation and Technology Thematic session)
Although they are under great anthropic pressure, mangroves play a vital role in making coastal ecosystems and communities resilient to erosion caused by climate change. The total surface area of mangroves shrank by 20% between 1980 and 2005. This session will provide an overview of knowledge and innovations relating to mangroves and explore the most effective programs and methods for conserving and restoring these ecosystems in a sustainable way. Approaches that create favourable conditions for natural regeneration will be discussed, as well as training for young professionals.
>> 5 September – 4 pm - 5.30 pm: Energizing the rights of nature (Rights and governance // Knowledge, innovation and technology Thematic session)
The movement for the recognition of rights to Nature has grown exponentially around the world in recent years. In 2012, IUCN adopted "Resolution 100" to include Rights of Nature in its programs and projects. This session will be an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the Rights of Nature at the local and global level, in connection with other movements, such as the right to a healthy environment or that of indigenous peoples.
Victor David, an environmental lawyer (SENS), who is participating in the session, says: "discover how cognitive technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and 'smart contracts', allow nature to act autonomously in its own defense."
To learn more: an insight by Victor David on these issues, to read on IRD le Mag'.
>> 6 September – 4 pm - 5.30 pm: Euro-Mediterranean ICCAs: Commons for Nature Conservation and Resilience of Local Communities (Landscapes // Rights and governance Thematic session)
The pastoral commons of the Mediterranean mountains fall within the category of Territories and Areas Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (ICCA). These territories of life are considered by many international organisations as key areas for the sustainable conservation of ecosystems and landscapes, fostering the resilience of local communities.
Drawing on various studies around the Mediterranean Basin and in Europe (Morocco, Spain, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania) the participants - researchers, policy makers, citizens and “common” people - will discuss the opportunities offered by these kinds of traditional commons and the issues and challenges they face today. They will examine the risks and opportunities related to the governance of these commons against the backdrop of the implementation new approaches, in terms of agro-ecological transition, cross-adaptation to climate change and biodiversity loss.
In parallel to this session, the exhibition "ICCAs / Territories of life on the edge. Mediterranean Mountain Pastoral Commons in the 21st century" will be presented from September 3 to 10 at the Palais des événements. A guided tour will also be offered on September 6 at 2:30 pm by Bruno Romagny in the presence of field actors.
For more information: read the article Conservation of natural areas: the lessons of "living territories" in Morocco and the Mediterranean, published by Bruno Romagny, Mohamed Alifriqui (Cadi Ayyad University) and Pablo Dominguez (Toulouse Jean Jaurès University) in The Conversation.
>> 6 September – African deltas: collaborative management for dynamic landscapes (speaker pitch, online. Themes: Landscapes // Rights and Governance)
The lower part of African rivers contributes to maintaining coastal biodiversity and productivity. These coastal wetlands are under threat due to land use (inadequate management plans) and climate change.
This pitch advocates for a socially-inclusive conservation management model suited to the delta landscape that is respectful of its dynamic nature and the connectivity between river and ocean, while supporting local institutions. The solutions presented are inspired by a successful restoration project in Mauritania (Diawling National Park) and by the findings of the Western Indian Ocean Deltas Exchange and Research Network, which brings together researchers and conservation practitioners in East Africa and Madagascar.
>> 7 Septembre – 8.30 am -10.30 am : How can the land sector contribute to increase biodiversity and food security while tackling climate change ? Science deliver key messages. (Campus session, co-organized by IRD/Cirad/INRAE/IDDRI).
Drawing on the latest knowledge - the 2019 release of the IPBES Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the FAO report on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture - participants in this session will explain why biodiversity is essential for food security, sustainable development, and the provision of many essential ecosystem services, while making multiple contributions to human livelihoods and limiting negative impacts on the environment.
Contacts IRD: Jean-Luc Chotte (Eco&Sols), President of the French Scientific Committee on Desertification (CSFD) ; Benjamin Sultan, climatologist (Espace-Dev), "climate change" scientific advisor at IRD.
In the Nature Generation Areas
These areas will be open to the general public from 4 to 11 September and bring together non-governmental agencies and organizations and citizens involved in the fight to halt biodiversity loss. Visitors will take part in fun, innovative, creative activities to raise awareness of biodiversity.
>> IRD and our partners also take part in innovative outreach activities aimed at young people between the ages of 15 and 30:
From 4 to 11 September, IRD and our partners – CNES, the Conservatoire du Littoral, Ifremer, INRAE, and the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) – will be running the Biodiversity Dome, a large-scale joint imitative that has been awarded the "IUCN Partner" label. The goal: share our commitment to biodiversity conservation with the public and help raise awareness of these issues. This giant dome provides the public with a wide range of formats for interacting with scientists: pitches, speed-searching, a "mystery object" session, discussions, joint interviews, workshops, talks and activities for school groups.
>> 11 September – 5.30 pm - 8.30 pm : The times of life and the oceans
Conference animated by Daniel Pauly, teacher at Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and Philippe Cury, marine biologist (MARBEC), IRD representative to the European Institutions in Brussels and President of the Scientific Council of the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco. Organized in partnership with Opera Mundi, broadcast live on IRD's Facebook page.
Summary of the speakers: "Human temporality and its hold on land and oceans go against the temporalities of living beings. The planet's natural resources have been drastically reduced due to unreasonable overexploitation. It is time to consider the specificity of the biological time of the oceans, its richness and complexity, and in particular the pressure we exert on the oceans, in the company of the world's best specialists in natural resources and marine ecosystems."
The ePOP (Small Participatory Waves) project developed by RFI planet radio (France Médias Monde) and IRD is a citizens’ network for information, debate and action on climate and environmental change. By providing young "ePOPers" (between the ages of 15 and 30 - to be found on the platform ePOP Network) this innovative project gives a voice to the people who are confronted with global changes on a daily basis and establishes a dialogue with scientists, experts and decision-makers. Within this framework, several mediation actions are organized, including :
>> 6 September – 4 pm : a prize-giving ceremony for the ePOP 2021 competition
>> 10 September – 3.30 pm - 5 pm : an AfterPOP screening-debate "Biodiversity with a loud voice!", animated by Anne-Cécile Bras, journalist and producer of the magazine "C'est pas du vent" on RFI, broadcasted live on the ePOP Facebook page
A stand dedicated to the Street Science augmented reality application: this scientific outreach project developed by researchers from IRD and the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO) helps users understand the role of marine organisms which cannot usually be seen with the naked eye, such as plankton, as well as the environmental and climate challenges they face today.
On the sidelines of the World Conservation Congress, Street Science and the artist CIYO put the spotlight on the oceans and future generations with an augmented reality street art fresco to be discovered in the "Panier" district. Leaning against the wall of the Notre-Dame de la Major School (rue Fonderie Vieille), this original work offers you, thanks to your smartphone, to observe moving elements that come to life with the wind and the temperature of the day... A first in Marseille!
From 4 to 9 September, come meet the researchers attending the Congress at the Institute's stand (hall 3 G06 – G07) and discover works selected by Éditions de l’IRD.
>> Practical information: from 9.30 am to 9 pm, Governance and Rights area.
Sessions organized on the French Pavilion
Health of the biosphere, animals and humans
- 5 September, 6.30 pm - 7.30 pm
Benjamin Roche, biologist at IRD (MIVEGEC), expert of the IPBES report on biodiversity and pandemics, IRD's One Health scientific advisor, will intervene in this session, in connection with the international initiative PREZODE.
Cultivating biodiversity together
- 4 September, 1.30 pm - 2 pm (« Solutions for a sustainable agriculture »)
- 5 September, 5.45 pm - 6.30 pm (« On the way to the COP15, Convention on Biological Diversity »)
- Co-organization IRD/Cirad/INRAE
Biodiversity must be preserved for its own sake and for the functions and services it supports. It is also essential for agriculture and food systems, which can contribute to its preservation. The wide range of family farming systems experienced around the world create dynamic landscape mosaics that are essential for increasing resilience to climate change.
These conferences shed light on how to reconcile conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity with efficient production systems, requiring the mobilization of a plurality of actors to multiply solutions adapted to local contexts.
On the Ocean and Islands Pavilion
High Seas: From Science to Decision
- 6 September, 10 am - 12.15 pm
This session is organized by French Facility for the Global Environment (FFEM) French Office of Biodiversity (OFB) on the Ocean and Islands Pavilion (H3). Participants will present the state of scientific knowledge to protect high seas ecosystems in the face of global change, as well as tools to help decision-making.
Contact IRD: Frédéric Ménard, scientific advisor for Overseas France at the IRD.
Scientific expertise for motions to be voted on by the Members' Assembly
The Members' Assembly will be held from 8 to 10 September. 109 motions have already been voted on electronically.
The 18 remaining motions are of particular strategic importance and will be discussed during the Assembly.
Researchers from IRD's Biodiversity Knowledge Community are mobilized on the following motions:
- N°13 : "Protection of Andes-Amazon rivers of Peru – the Marañón, Ucayali, Huallaga and Amazonas – from large-scale infrastructure projects". Contact: Jhan Carlo Espinoza, climatologist, researcher at IGE, head of the AMANECER project (supported by the Make Our Planet Great Again program).
- N°44 : "Actions to strengthen food sovereignty and security for indigenous peoples and farming communities". Contact: Adeline Barnaud, plant geneticist (DIADE)
- N°45 : "Recognising and supporting indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights and roles in conservation". Contact: Laure Emperaire, ethnobotanist (PALOC).
>> As well as a note on the goal of making 30% of the Earth's land and ocean surfaces a protected area by 2030 (supported by a coalition of States led by France and Costa Rica in international negotiations ahead of COP15). Contact: Sébastien Barot, ecologist (IEES Paris), biodiversity scientific advisor at IRD.
>> Researchers will be available to provide insights on these scientific issues. Do not hesitate to contact the IRD press office.
Available thematic resources
>> Biodiversity: between fragility and sustainability : an IRD le Mag' file
All the indicators agree: erosion of biodiversity has now reached a level not seen in hundreds of thousands of years. Human activity is to blame, and its impact is not just being felt by such emblematic species and ecosystems as the polar bear or Great Barrier Reef. The major health, social and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has confirmed that humanity is also in danger.
Biodiversity in the global south - Research for a sustainable world, collective.
IRD Éditions, December 2020.
Nature in Common - Beyond the Nagoya Protocol, under the direction of Catherine Aubertin, Anne Nivart, IRD Éditions/MNHN, Coll. Objectifs Suds September 2021.
Science and sustainable development - 75 years of research in the Global South,
IRD Éditions, May 2019.
New Caledonia - World of Corals, under the direction of Claude Payri. IRD Éditions/Solaris, August 2018.
© IRD - Esther Katz, Arnaud Bertrand, Serge Andrefouët, Jean-Grégoire Kayoum
© IRD - CNRS - Thibaut Vergoz
© IRD - Olivier Dangles, François Nowicki, Une autre Terre
© IRD - IRA - Christian Lamontagne
© IRD - Alain Tendero Post Ebogui 2018
© naturexpose.com, Olivier Dangles, François Nowicki.
>> A photographic exhibition on the Mediterranean pastoral commons
The exhibition Territories of life on the edge - Mediterranean mountain pastoral commons in the 21st century, available online, illustrates the issues of community-based protected areas in different national, political, ecological and cultural contexts.
It is part of the interdisciplinary research carried out by the LPED and the LMI MediTer, which crosses the gaze of the humanities and social sciences with that of the living around the Mediterranean on the rural commons.