On the 30th June 2020, Science New Zealand signed an agreement with INRAE to enhance joint projects, scientific exchange and talent development.
INRAE is the acronym of the French research organisation resulting from the merge in January 2020 between Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and Institut National de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies pour l’Environnement et l’Agriculture (IRSTEA). In France, INRAE is the peak research organisation for agriculture and the environment.
This agreement encourages exchange programmes and collaborative projects in areas of mutual interest and benefit for the parties. It provides a framework for cooperation between the parties, and is intended to facilitate development of more specific programmes of collaboration, including staff exchanges for the purpose of career development. A key focus of this MOU will be to foster opportunities for collaboration among early-stage researchers. The parties commit to equitable investment in cooperation and exchanges. In view of Covid-19-related travel restrictions we will develop opportunities through online engagement and e-research.
This agreement also builds on a history of scientific exchange between France and New Zealand that has been championed by the FAST (France Aotearoa Science Technology Innovation) group. This group has encouraged interaction across the academic sector, the placement of PhD and postdoc students and sharing of scientific knowledge.
How we will work together
Under the agreement a group of representatives will manage a process to:
- develop collaborative mechanisms and processes of cooperation;
- form groups to develop cooperative research proposals and setting up of joint working facilities;
- identify training and career development opportunities e.g. the hosting of post-graduates and staff of Science New Zealand members at INRAE , and vice-versa;
- make information about the Parties and their activities readily available to both Parties and other interested parties;
- Identify and pursue other areas of interest and collaboration, including science, society and technology foresight and mutual interests in sustainable development in the Pacific Island Countries.
Areas of mutual interest
The parties wish to encourage substantial research cooperation in the domains of:
- Biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Healthy and sustainable diets including the quality of food products
- Carbon neutral & climate resilient agri-food, forestry and natural ecosystems
- Sustainable soil, landscape and water resources
- Circular bioeconomy
- Indigenous people’s aspirations for land development and sustainability
The coronavirus pandemic has taught lessons about the value of scientific knowledge and its role in risk management and resilience. This agreement will encourage work that builds global understanding of the nature of risk and society’s ability to adapt and minimise adverse impact. All the areas of mutual interest listed above are subject to global climate change risk. All those areas link societies and our economies to Nature. This agreement will encourage understanding of those links and build on the lessons learned from the pandemic.
History of working together
The history of scientific collaboration between the parties has covered a broad range of interests from crop pollination to sheep breeding; from the warming of lake bodies to the response of photosynthesis to temperature changes; and from genome mapping in pine trees to mapping soil nitrogen across global climate gradients. The diversity of collaborations is united by the shared goal of science for the benefit of the world, to make a difference in the face of global challenges and opportunities.
Recent and current collaborations focus on:
- Soil carbon sinks and the influence of temperature
- Climatic limits of temperate rainforest tree species
- 3D printing and applications for new biomaterials in the circular bioeconomy
- Tree breeding genomics, plant disease resistance and economics
- Genomic analysis of fungal pathogens of crop plants
- Hydrology, river mechanics and geomorphology, freshwater ecology and water pollution
- Managing soil erosion and sediment in mountain rivers
- Pectin-degrading bacteria in the human gut
- Mapping the apple genome
- New sensors for evaluating crop traits
- Manure as a co-product
- The hydrological signatures of soil
- Digital soil mapping
- Biomedical literature search engines.