CNRS and University of Malta to join forces to tackle biodiversity and ecology
CNRS and University of Malte to join forces to tackle biodiversity
As a first concrete output following the establishment of a partnership agreement between the University of Malta and the CNRS, signed March 29, 2011 in Valletta, and the setting up of CNRS representative office for the Mediterranean on campus, in Malta, a delegation led by Dr. Françoise Gaill, director of CNRS Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE) - one of 10 institutes that the French research organization comprises at the central level - visited Malta from 22 to 25 June, 2011.
Indeed, the unique location of Malta in the heart of the Mediterranean, midway between the northern and southern shores and at the junction of the western and eastern areas of the Mediterranean basin, make it a valuable case study for understanding the overall Mediterranean socio-ecosystem, which one may also know is threatened by the planet’s global changes and human pressure as well. In addition, both INEE and the University of Malta have expertise in many fields which enables interdisciplinary studies meeting the scientific, social and environmental challenges the region is home to.
The delegation visited the archipelago’s campuses - Tal Qroqq (Malta) and Xewkija (Gozo) - and the Giordan Lighthouse research station. Cross-scientific presentations were also held between the French researchers, affiliated to joint research units of the CNRS and the Universities of Provence and the Mediterranean (in Aix-Marseille), and their Maltese counterparts representing the departments of archaeology, anthropology, biology, economics, physiology and biochemistry, and physics as well as the European Documentation and Research Centre, Institute for Sustainable Development and Mediterranean Institute.
This visit led to the drawing of the contours of the upcoming scientific cooperation between France and Malta in the fields of biodiversity and ecology. Among others, the following next steps have thus been jointly considered:
- Joint studies of Maltese biodiversity, both terrestrial and aquatic, in the framework of the BioDivMEx project under the umbrella of the "Mistrals" Mediterranean research programme, of which the University of Malta co-organized the first international workshop in March 2011 together with the CNRS and IRD;
- Possible selection of the Maltese islands under the man-surroundings observatories (OHM) policy and tools of INEE;
- Joint organization of international summer schools on the theme of environment;
- Exchange of researchers, faculty and students;
- Co-ordinated promotion of the interests of research on and in the Mediterranean, especially towards the institutions of the European research area both the CNRS and University of Malta are stake-holders of.
By joining their forces, research teams from the University of Malta and the CNRS and its French partners will not only benefit from the potential in terms of research that the Maltese islands holds to boost scientific cooperation between our two countries but also add their contribution to the Mediterranean area of science and our understanding of the functioning of the Mediterranean eco-region.
UOM Dean of the Faculty of Science Prof. Charles V. Sammut, CNRS/INEE Director Dr. Françoise Gaill and UOM Pro-Rector for Research and Innovation Prof. Richard Muscat