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Questions for Luc Abbadie,

President of the scientific council on water and aquatic environments
Director of the Biogeochemistry and ecology of continental systems lab (CNRS/ENS/INRA) at the École normale supérieure in Paris

Could you present the scientific council on water and aquatic environments that you chair for Onema?

The scientific council comprises 24 members from different horizons. Virtually all disciplines are represented and though public research has a larger number of members, the council also includes experts from various professional segments of the water sector. I think the purpose of the scientific council is similar to the role and identity of Onema.
The goal is to reinforce the partnership between science and action in the field, to see that research provides answers to the major questions while ensuring its independence and capacity to innovate. Onema has provided the council with the means to achieve maximum effectiveness, from the initial formulation of questions and concerns on through to implementation of recommendations.
By action, we mean training, information and transfer of new knowledge to the water sector, calls for research proposals and the creation of technical resources for research, notably for experimental systems and long-term observation.

How are you organised?

Initially, we selected four priority themes to focus on, namely the action of contaminants in the environment, the impact of climate change, implementation of the WFD and regulations, and evaluation of ecosystemic services. We have already organised two seminars, the first on medicine and the second on the impact of climate change. Both brought together scientists and people active in sustainable water management.
They constituted a first step and will be followed by concrete efforts targeting incentives for research, monitoring and environmental restoration. We also support international scientific meetings, such as the workshop on ecological engineering held in December in Paris.

You are an expert in terrestrial ecology, is water ecology very different?

Above and beyond my know-how in ecology, it is my experience in research programming that interested Onema, as well as my involvement in ecological engineering and experimental research in ecology. I am discovering that environmental water research has real capacity to raise fundamental, transversal questions that serve the entire environmental field. I also appreciate the tradition of dialogue between researchers and participants in the water sector, on both the national and European levels.
That is truly exceptional and should serve as an example for the environmental sciences as a whole. For both the aquatic and terrestrial environments, it is important to obtain the knowledge that puts us in a position to anticipate on change in the environment and to innovate in our work. In spite of the diversity in our situations, the overall ecological phenomena are the same and barriers are falling, that at least is my opinion.



Interview by Gisèle Parfait.