Responsible for coastal and high seas management projects at the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM) & coordinator of the Oceanic Plankton, Climate and Development project.
Since its launch in 2016, Janique Étienne has been overseeing the Oceanic Plankton, Climate and Development project set up by the Tara Expeditions Foundation for a period of 4 years. This project was initiated by the Foundation in partnership with the FFEM, which provides major financial support: 2 million euros out of the total 8 million the project will cost.
Convinced that problems related to the high seas – those maritime zones not under the authority of any nation — will occupy a growing place, Janique wants this project to help increase the research capacities of developing countries in the field of marine sciences. The project’s objective is to promote the intersection between research and development issues in southern countries
Can you describe the FFEM’s mission and the framework in which it operates?
The FFEM is a public fund that finances projects in emerging and developing countries that reconcile preservation of the environment, development of territories, and reinforcement of their resilience to climate change. It’s a French entity that exists to support the commitments of France at the international level. But the role of the FFEM can not be reduced to that of a simple financier. We are also expected to provide our technical expertise to accompany participants in the project.
Can you tell us about the genesis of the partnership with the Tara Expeditions Foundation?
The marine environment has always been one of our priorities for action. We contacted Romain Troublé, director of the Tara Expeditions Foundation, and presented our strategy for the years 2015-2018. One of our priority themes for this period concerns integrated management and the resilience of coastal and marine areas to the impacts of climate change.
It turns out that plankton covers many elements of this theme, whether in terms of governance of the high seas, or by its close link with climate issues and fisheries. The planktonic ecosystem is therefore very meaningful to us. The potential of research work carried out by the Tara Expeditions Foundation to develop an integrated vision of the global plankton ecosystem is of great interest to us.
Because of our respective commitments and common beliefs, it was clear that collaboration between us was possible and relevant.
Janique Etienne, coordinator of the Oceanic Plankton, Climate and Development project
What can the FFEM contribute to the management of this project of cooperation and scientific development?
We supported the Foundation upstream to define the contours of the project, its ambitions and feasibility. Now that a precise framework has been defined, it’s up to the Foundation to fulfill its commitments. We will have a monitoring role throughout the project, but also an advisory role to maximize its impact. For example, we gave our point of view on the choice of research topics by orienting them more towards fishing, but also on the geographical coverage of the project, particularly in Africa and the Indian Ocean.
What are the expectations and objectives of the FFEM concerning the project “Ocean Plankton, Climate and Development”?
The global issues related to the ocean obviously concern developing countries, so we must ensure that their scientific teams are not put aside, but instead, brought into the dynamic. To do this, we want above all to strengthen the research capacities of these countries, to help them make the best decisions at the national level, but also to position themselves and defend their interests in international negotiations.
One of the objectives of the FFEM is also to make this research operational, that is to say, to get it out of a purely academic framework and achieve results that can be mobilized to respond to governance issues. We do not fund research for the sake of research. The challenge for us is to encourage a shift to action. There are concrete problems to be addressed, for example, the importance of plankton in ocean carbon sequestration, or the sustainable management of fish stocks. For this, we need elements both legitimized by science and made accessible to decision makers.
In the future, do you envisage other projects in partnership with the Tara Expeditions Foundation?
I feel that in our next strategy, the high seas will become even more important. The Tara Foundation is well placed to be a good partner on these topics.
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