Expertise and support for public policies

Climate change, depletion of resources, deterioration of the environment and urbanisation, etc. are all transforming the world; there is a growing need for scientific diagnosis and anticipation from the local to the global scales. Society’s expectations regarding these issues reinforce demands to feed public debate. Our expertise contributes to the development and implementation of international agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement or the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as to European Directives, national plans or more local policies. Our work also contributes to informing society and public decision-makers and managers so that they can develop and support appropriate and efficient policies.

An international framework for action at all levels

a systemic and integrated approach to major global challenges in terms of food, agriculture and the environment

INRAE develops its capacities for expertise, foresight and support for public policies by means of a systemic and integrated approach to major global challenges in terms of food, agriculture and the environment.

Studies are carried out by multi- and cross-disciplinary teams that include members from the economic and social sciences. They gather together scientific knowledge, research topics and methods that can be mobilised to engineer the solutions necessary to develop efficient public policies applicable at both a regional level (major cities and urban areas) and an international scale. To achieve this, we collaborate with major institutions such as the FAO, World Bank or IPCC, and also in many cases with French and European ministries, parliaments and institutions. This expertise and support contribute to the orientation of research: by listening to its partners, INRAE can anticipate major trends affecting society and science, adapt them and take account of them in its research programmes.

Expertise and policy support at INRAE: download

Information and anticipation

Collective scientific expertise, foresight and advanced studies are designed to feed discussion on the future challenges faced by society and to inform both stakeholders and public debate. They enable the anticipation, support and monitoring of policies in place (evaluation, indicators, improvements, scientific information), the identification of emerging risks and the detection of weak signals in order to better define priority actions while allowing time for research to prepare and construct potential projects.

More specifically, collective scientific expertise is able to produce an inventory of validated scientific knowledge by explaining consensus views and scientific controversies.

Studies can mobilise uncertified scientific knowledge (or the grey literature) and be enriched by simulations using models that describe the functioning of the systems under study by integrating economic factors and the strategies of different actors.

Foresight studies can inform the long-term future using contrasted scenarios. They can generate knowledge based on data gathered from the experiences of the actors involved.

Support for the design and evaluation of public policies

INRAE’s research scientists and engineers can be mobilised to assist in the design of public policies and their instruments through ex-post and ex-ante evaluations. This work involves different INRAE Scientific Divisions and draws strength from all disciplines: economic and social sciences, biological, agronomic and environmental sciences and mathematics. This gives rise to either multidisciplinary working groups, such as that focused on reform of the CAP, or the participation of INRAE scientific experts in steering committees set up by its partners (e.g. French networks on animal or plant health, or the International Commission on Large Dams).  It may also take the form of participation in debates initiated by the authorities (National Conference on Natural Hazards, or the National Conference on Water, the National Councils for Food or Collective Catering or the National Council on Agriculture and Food).

A few recent examples

Scientific and technical support for the implementation of public policies

These activities are carried out either directly by research units in the context of the research/expertise/support continuum on public policy support, or by specific internal or partnership structures within INRAE. Collaboration with regional actors and synergies of skills and knowledge concerning a given situation enable the development of technical tools, methods or references (databases, mapping) to support the deployment of public policies.  

A few examples:

  • National Reference Centre for Animal Welfare (CNR BEA)
  • Service Unit for Soil Mapping and Surveillance (Infosol)
  • Epidemiological Surveillance Platform
  • French Variety and Seed Study and Control Group (GEVES)
  • Collaborations with the Directorate General for Risk Prevention (DGPR) at the Ministry for Ecology and Solidarity Transition  (MTES) with respect to natural hazards (cf. the French National Hydrometeorological and Flood Forecasting Centre, SCHAPI)
  • Support for implementation of the Water Directive (DCE) or the Lake Ecosystems Cluster (ECLA) that combines the French Agency for Biodiversity (OFB) and INRAE

Science and public actors

How can INRAE research be useful to public policy? Many public policy issues require new knowledge and scientific studies. Our new series Science and Public Actors series proposes leaflets about issues which INRAE is focussing on via a research-expertise-public policy support continuum. The series covers INRAE’s major research subjects with concrete illustrations.

News concerning the COVID-19 pandemic has monopolised the agenda of public actors. It highlights the links between animal health, human health and biodiversity and the need for knowledge and anticipation to guide public action. Global health, integrating the links between human, animal, environmental health and food is the object of numerous studies and much research at INRAE.

N°1 One Health - download



Several topics have already been discussed in our previous collection "Science & Policy":