Scientific and technical cooperation: A focus on global issues, especially climate change and health [fr]
The scientific and technical cooperation being fostered by France in the Philippines is founded on an intergovernmental agreement signed in November 1978. On a general level, it encompasses the priorities laid down in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular focus on environmental issues and health. It is part of the continued commitments taken by France on climate-related issues, which not only include mobilisation initiatives implemented by France, both nationally and internationally under the UN Framework on Climate Change, but also addresses the needs expressed by the Philippines, a country which is especially affected by the consequences of climate change.
To this end, we are currently making efforts to promote and initiate cooperation projects which would enable French and Filipino researchers to work in research areas of the future on a much greater scale. Consequently, the Embassy will especially be focusing on promoting the mobility of experts, decision-makers, researchers and students, mainly in the fields of the environment & biodiversity protection, natural risk management, health, agriculture, and food safety. The Philippines takes part in several regional programmes set up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Development to promote Science & Information Communication Technologies (ICT-Asia), the study of biodiversity and the economic valorization of natural substances, notably for their use in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry (BIO-Asia). The promotion of social sciences, an area which already enjoys a long-standing and varied tradition of cooperation, is also an integral part of our strategy.
A number of partnerships have also been forged between Filipino institutions and research centres, such as the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry & Natural Resources Research & Development (PCARRD), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology & Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the Marine Science Institute, and some universally renowned French research institutes, including the Center for Agricultural Research for Developing Countries (CIRAD), the Research Institute for Social Development (IRD), the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), the Institut Pasteur, or the National Center for Scientific Research CNRS. We are placing a particular focus on work carried out within the region as a whole, especially through projects spearheaded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB), and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), which is based in the Philippines.
In order to develop synergies within agricultural research and food safety, the organisation of a France-Philippine forum is being considered, notably in partnership with SEARCA and IRRI. This forum will focus on disseminating agro-ecological practices and new technologies designed to adapt agricultural production to climate change. Promoting exchange between universities and agricultural schools is also one of our priorities. More broadly, the agricultural agreement currently being negotiated between France and the Philippines will fully integrate the importance we place on research.
In the field of health, the Embassy is supporting a collaboration between Institut Pasteur and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) to create a research centre in Manila. The collaboration between these two organisations has already led to a project studying the impact of climate change on
dengue transmission (CLEMENT project). The Philippines is also involved in the second phase of the regional project ECOMORE (EConomic development, ECOsystems MOdifications and merging infectious diseases Risk Evaluation). The aim of this project, which is being financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) and implemented by the Institut Pasteur in association with the Philippines Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the Department of Health, is to observe the effects of climate-related and environmental changes on diseases in five Asian countries (Kampuchea, Laos, Burma Vietnam, and now-at this stage-the Philippines). Other health-related cooperation projects, particularly those involving hospitals and emergency services, are currently being considered.
Our scientific cooperation is also seeking to promote research in the maritime environment. The French oceanographic ship TARA will be arriving in the region to take samples in the Pacific Ocean in an effort to better understand the impact of climate change on oceans, and the capacity of coral reefs to adapt to change. Generally, the French Embassy works closely with the AFD, which focuses on development challenges in key sectors of the green economy, adaptation to climate change, and water and its treatment.
The Embassy also supports the development of partnerships in the social sciences. The work of many French researchers also concerns the Philippines in a variety of fields such as palaeontology, prehistory, archaeology, sociology, history, and linguistics. In the field of archaeology, the French-Philippine cooperation has made it possible to support university courses and research, and to increase awareness and appreciation for the Philippines’ prehistoric heritage among both the local population and the international community.
The discovery of fossils of prehistoric fauna was also made possible through the support of the French Embassy, which in turn led to the creation of a four-year excavation programme named ‘Project MARCHE’ (2014-2018).
For the future, we hope to pursue new avenues of cooperation, such as with the country’s space programme for which the Philippines has just launched a national 10-year development plan (2016-2026).