Valérie Verdier, President and CEO of IRD, presented the changes in its governance to the Board of Directors on June 26, 2020.  She reaffirmed the priority of Science, as part of an equitable partnership with the South and French Overseas Territories, and the increasingly important role of  interdisciplinary approaches and Sustainability science, which needs to be reflected in the organization of the Institute.      

Valérie Verdier, who became CEO of IRD on February 12, 2020, appointed Philippe Charvis as Deputy Director of Science (D2S) on March 13. His main responsibilities will be to contribute to the development of the Institute’s scientific strategy, ensure its overall coordination, and translate its priorities in the organization and leadership of its research facilities.  Since his appointment, he has assisted the CEO in coordinating the Science Hub and has launched the thought process as to the changes to be made to it, in consultation with the various parties involved, so that the Institute can better respond to challenges and issues in the future. 

At the Board of Directors' meeting on June 26, Valérie Verdier presented changes to the IRD’s general organization that are designed to affirm the Institute's unique place in French higher education and research supporting the sustainable development of companies in the South. 

The organization and operation of the IRD reflect a strong commitment to Sustainability Science - a conviction reinforced by the recent pandemic— - and the connection it maintains with major health, environmental, and societal issues. “I want to use the diversity and wealth of the Institute's expertise and skills to search for sustainable solutions in order to pilot projects and modernize and simplify the IRD’s operation,” explained the IRD’s CEO. 

This commitment is seen in the Institute’s organizational chart in the creation of a Deputy Science Director in charge of Sustainability Science, who will work across disciplines to promote sustainability science in all the Institute’s spheres of operation. 

Other organizational changes  

  • The CEO has the ability to designate scientific advisers to focus on specific cross-disciplinary topics.  In the first instance, a scientific advisor will be appointed to lead the Institute's strategy in the Overseas Territories, in line with the Ministry's Overseas Pathway 5.0. 
  • Greater visibility will be given to the actions undertaken by the IRD in the field of Open Science in regions in the South, with the transformation of the digital infrastructures and data mission (MIDN) into a mission for open science (MSO). 

Finally, the CEO of IRD reminded the Board of the Institute’s next step: the definition of new strategic directions that will facilitate discussions with its supervisory bodies regarding the establishment's next performance agreement.

The construction of an environmental roadmap

“In its missions and in the interdisciplinary and civic sustainability science model that it espouses, in its commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in its research topics and endeavors, the IRD needs to respond to environmental challenges with redesigned working methods and research administration and practices,” stressed Valérie Verdier. 

This assessment has led to the need to construct an institutional roadmap that will encompass the steps already taken locally and that will set the Institute on an ethical path that can then implemented in practical and tangible actions. 
The following guidelines, presented to the Board of Directors, are the first building block in a structure that will need to be continually developed through cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary efforts, and involve multiple parties within the Institute in a joint initiative that extends to all levels. These guidelines are structured around 5 themes: 

  • Travel (business and commuter)  
  • IT and digital uses (IT equipment, telephony)  
  • Energy and optimization of assets (real estate, liquid) 
  • Consumables and services (furniture, scientific equipment)  
  • Responsible research (impact of scientific activities)  

“This environmental roadmap serves as a reminder to the IRD of its commitments in the area of sustainability science and sets objectives for reducing its environmental impact, via an initiative that is multidisciplinary, involves its three areas of organization (Science, Development and Support) and is participatory, allowing each member of the Institute staff to play an important role in implementing it in practice.”