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Philippe Mauguin INRA Chief Executive Officer
Philippe Mauguin

INRA President


As a targeted research institution, INRA is unique in the world. It mobilises a broad spectrum of cognitive research, from biology and fundamental ecology to applications in agriculture, nutrition and the environment. It draws on the diversity and excellence of its research community: the scientists, engineers and technicians engaged in research and research support.

This community is an opportunity: an opportunity to offer breakthrough innovations that improve living standards and sustainability in our societies; an opportunity to push back the boundaries of knowledge, and an opportunity to unlock the complexities of food systems in space and time.
Our tools, our environment and our expectations are changing. With these changes in mind, INRA has established its orientations for the next ten years.


A new era for agriculture and nutrition, and new challenges for research

In the last 50 years, strong world population growth has been fully offset by food production, which has tripled. Nevertheless, this quantitative success has not ensured food and nutritional security: 820 million people suffer from chronic undernutrition and 2 billion from micronutrient deficiencies. Another billion people around the world are at an increased risk of obesity-related diseases.

Increased global food production has relied on a steady rise in agricultural production, made possible by the standardisation and simplification of farming systems.

The limitations of this model are evident today: it is the cause of pollution, pest and disease adapta-tion, nutritional deficiencies, as well as faltering yields and value for farmers.

Throughout the 21st century, agriculture will face new challenges: how to ensure food and nutritional security for over 9 billion human beings; sustainably manage life-essential natural resources such as water, soil, air and biodiversity, and help fight climate change by better storing carbon in agricultural and forest soils and working toward the substitution of fossil carbon in the economy.

This major challenge for the planet – global food security in the context of global change – arises in a very difficult socio-economic context for farmers everywhere. In recent years, the acceleration of climate crises, the globalisation of markets and the disappearance of regulatory tools have led to high price volatility and, as a result, soaring grain prices and food riots in 2008. Overproduction around the world has resulted in crises in the livestock and dairy industries.   The multiplication of economic crises affecting farms in developed and developing countries exposes the weaknesses of our production systems and their unsuitability for a new context.

We are at a turning point: agricultural, nutritional, environmental and energy transitions in a context of climate change are reshaping the questions facing agricultural research.


A global strategy through to 2025

In light of this, INRA decided to update its strategic orientations through to 2025. This orientation document, which is based on that which covered the 2010-2020 period, has been driven by the priorities of the national research strategy, sustainable development goals, recent external evaluations of the Institute (HCERES, evaluations of INRA’s scientific divisions, audit by the Cour des Comptes), the last self-assessment report issued by INRA and the collective thinking of its management bodies.

These orientations for 2016-2025 will be structured around five priority thematic areas:

A global ambition to achieve food security in a context of planetary transitions and changes;

The economic, environmental, health and social performance and diversity of French agriculture, enhanced by agroecology and digital farming approaches;

The adaptation of agricultural and forestry systems to climate change, the attenuation of their effects on the climate and the ecosystem services they can offer, so as to contribute to con-trolling greenhouse gas emissions;

The development of healthy and sustainable food systems;

The complementarity and competing uses of bioresources to meet food needs in the first instance, and also those for energy, chemistry and biosourced materials.

Furthermore, three general policy directions are defined:

INRA’s commitment to the dynamic initiated by the digital revolution, which is transforming our research issues, methods and practices; 

Pursuit of INRA’s openness to its academic, industrial and public partners, from the local to the global scale, including non-market actors through citizen science approaches;

Changes to the organisation of INRA and its practices in order to achieve its objectives.

The whole programme is broken down into goals that clarify these orientations. These will require management and monitoring, in articulation with the strategic plans of Scientific Divisions and Re-search Centres and modernisation of the Institute’s management. 


An operational plan to serve a collective adventure

The management team and I hope that these orientations will be reflected operationally in five action plans to mobilise all of INRA's staff members and our partners in research, higher education and the industrial world:

  • Human resources and internal communication: to ensure the attractiveness and cohesion of a working community responsible for a major public service mission, while ensuring the motivation and quality of life at work of full-tenure or contractual staff and partners;
  • Cooperation with higher education: to break down INRA's priority themes into scientific strate-gies for different sites, shared with our partners in the regions, thus contributing to ensuring that each major university centre becomes a cluster with an international reputation in INRA's areas of excellence;
  • Innovation: to exploit and broaden the Institute's extraordinary potential for innovation, by combining disciplines, developing projects in partnership with stakeholders from different sectors and regions, drawing strength from our infrastructures and targeting priority areas for innovation;
  • European and international strategy: to align INRA's scientific strategy with an action plan to mobilise our principal partners in our priority areas through a global network for agricultural and food research, and ensure our presence in international institutions;
  • Interdisciplinary scientific foresight: to inform future scientific frontiers, enrich our orientations, develop incentive actions, and foster scientific, economic, discipline-based or training partnerships. Some initial projects are described in this document, and concern the future of livestock sectors, the integration of research in health, food and the environment, and new research frontiers in agroecology. 

These action plans will be compiled and shared with the different stakeholders. They must achieve publicised and tangible results. I propose placing them at the heart of INRA's next Contract of Agreed Objectives with the French government, covering the period 2017-2021. 

Through a pragmatic breakdown of these ambitious strategic orientations, we shall therefore be able to ensure that by 2025, INRA has become a research institution that is attractive to its staff and partners, an acknowledged global expert in its areas of competence, and committed to taking up crucial challenges for the future of our planet.