On Thursday, March 7, 2019, Philippe Augé (President, University of Montpellier), Frédérique Vidal (Minister of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation, France), and Abdoulaye Yéro Baldé (Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Republic of Guinea), officially launched the University of Montpellier’s “Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions” (MAK’IT), created as part of the MUSE I-SITE.

A space for developing new collective intelligence on action towards sustainable development, by mobilizing scientific communities, MAK’IT seeks to analyze, assist, and accelerate the health, environmental, agricultural, and food transitions required to achieve sustainable development objectives. A real-world laboratory for change, the Institute is committed to making sure that the conclusions of its work are useful for future generations and stimulate their engagement to support sustainable development.

Created as part of the Montpellier University of Excellence I-SITE, MAK’IT will thus help deploy the international strategic ambition of University of Montpellier and its 18 partners by building an international university recognized for its impact on the major societal challenges: Feed – Protect – Care.

The various actions to be implemented were presented on the day of the launch, including:

  • Welcoming world-renowned researchers and stakeholders
  • Organizing events with an international scope in Montpellier
  • Helping to refresh educational programs related to the three pillars: Feed, Protect, Care
  • Elaborating and coordinating international initiatives related to sustainable development objectives.

Discussions focused mainly on the issue of transitions towards sustainable development and the expected impact in that new space. Louise Fresco (President of Wageningen University & Research – WUR) and David Nabarro (Strategic Director at 4SD and former Special Advisor to the General Secretary of the United Nations for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development), addressed the question: “How can MAK’IT accelerate transitions towards Sustainable Development Objectives?”

Philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin (UNESCO Chair of Complex Thought) and Gilles Boeuf (President of the French Agency for Biodiversity’s Scientific Council) talked about the contribution of scientific controversies to the public debate.

Lastly, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle (Candidate of France and the European Union for the position of FAO Director General), Xavier Litrico (Scientific Director, SUEZ),  Donatienne Hissard (Deputy Director for Sustainable Development, Directorate-General for Global Affairs, Culture, Education, and International Development, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs), and Patrice Burger (President, Center for Action and International Achievements – CARI) held a round table discussion on the role of scientific communities in the global transformation of our societies.

The launch event also gave the five researchers comprising the MAK’IT pilot group (August – December 2018) an opportunity to present their joint work on: “At what level should circularity of food systems be organized: local or global?”

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