March 14 and 15, 2012, Paris, France
BiodivERsA partner Violeta Milkova (Bulgarian National Science Fund, BNSF) organized the network’s first staff exchange. The goal of these meetings is to better integrate partners to the consortium, to get to know each other individually and as institutions and to exchange ideas and experiences on a specific practice or functioning of the hosting organisation. The present staff exchange, hosted by the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB), focused on science-society interfaces in biodiversity research.
BiodivERsA’s representatives from Bulgaria (Violeta Milkova, BNSF), Estonia (Margit Suuroja–Estonian Research Council, ETAG), Germany (Gaby Rerig, Deutsch Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and Lithuania (Asta Aleksandraviciene—Research Council of Lithuania RCL) met in Paris for a day and a half. Although it felt way too short, much was achieved.
Following an introduction by Claude-Anne Gauthier, FRB director, and a tour of the FRB offices, Frederic Lemaitre gave an overall presentation of BiodivERsA broad objectives and existing achievements, with a focus on the science-society interface theme in the network. Partners also met with Murièle Millot from the MEDDTL (French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing) who introduced the general organization, policy and activity of the French government regarding ecology and biodiversity. Samy Aït-Amar from the ANR (National Agency for Research) gave us an overview of the structure of the Agency as well as some specifics on the French interests in biodiversity through the funding strategies of the Agency.
There were also specific talks about the FRB’s stakeholders advisory council (COS) and one of its flagship programmes, “modelling and scenarios of biodiversity,” which strongly embeds the science-society cooperation in research projects and the approach FRB has chosen to effectively interface both worlds.
BiodivERsA’s staff exchange partners were then invited to give presentations about the functioning of their respective institutions with a particular focus on science-society interfaces. This round-table revealed interesting practices on the integration of stakeholders in research projects and on the support of connections between different worlds such as science and business. These talks also offered insights into the different contexts that surround these institutions’ work and into their respective goals and strategies to promote and develop the biodiversity field.
Finally, partners took a “field trip” to the Cité de la Musique, a national museum dedicated to instruments and musicology, with which the FRB has had the opportunity to build a partnership on the impact of biodiversity in the making of musical instruments. These biodiversity aspects are presented throughout the permanent exhibit of the museum and the tour is deemed an excellent example of practical science-society interfacing on biodiversity for the wider public. Stéphane Vaiedelich (director of the museum laboratory) and Caroline Bugat (educational coordinator), who gave an exceptional tour to the BiodivERsA partners, pointed out some specifics and trends of the position of the musical instruments in man’s relationship to nature, drawing the attention on all sorts of woods as well as spider cocoons, veal bladders, wild boar hairs, mother of pearl and turtle shell — to cite only a few — that are used in the making of musical instruments.
At the end of this first staff exchange, partners felt it was successful in creating ties and suggesting further collaborations and initiatives. The BNSF, responsible for the staff exchange, and the FRB which hosted its first edition, both take this opportunity to gratefully thank the attending BiodivERsA partners for their excellent presentation and participation, which has proven to be one of the main driving factors behind the success of this first exchange. The organisers are also grateful to both Murièle Millot (MEDDTL) and Samy Ait-Amar (ANR) for accepting to hold presentations on their respective institutions, allowing a better understanding of the French partners in BiodivERsA.
Other staff exchanges will be planned in the forthcoming months in order to continue this networking activity and promote sharing of knowledge and practices to support research funding in biodiversity ever more efficiently.