illustration Patrick Flammarion, Deputy Director General of Expertise and Support for Public Policy

4 min

Patrick Flammarion, Deputy Director General of Expertise and Support for Public Policy

Patrick Flammarion has had a varied career in environmental research, a field where science and public policy coalesce. His “multicultural” experience has shaped his gift for weaving together societal expectations, scientific capacities and policy challenges.

Published on 19 December 2019

As he takes up his new post as Deputy Director General for Expertise and Public Policy Support at INRAE, Patrick Flammarion will be at the crossroads of science, society and public policy. “My mission will be to listen to and reformulate the long-term questions put forward by society and to communicate them to our scientists, and to propose technical and methodological tools to our public policymakers at the regional, national and international levels.” After two decades of working for various organisations, it is a role that Patrick Flammarion is very much looking forward to.


Delving into research and environmental challenges through ecotoxicology

After getting a degree in engineering from the Ecole Polytechnique with a specialisation in life sciences, followed by studies at the French national school of rural engineering, water and forestry (ENGREF), Patrick Flammarion dove into the scientific world of ecotoxicology 25 years ago. This field, “more an area inquiry than a field at the time”, draws on chemistry, biology, ecology, statistics and modelling. In addition to be able to use the skills he acquired during his studies, he also found himself drawn to a deep conviction inspired by the field. “The chemical risks for human health and the environment seemed to be a vital issue to study to address the questions that society was bound to have about long-term exposure to chemical substances that often come in mixtures,” explains Patrick.   

After obtaining his PhD in ecotoxicology in December 1997, he led various scientific projects and expertise studies at IRSTEA before receiving his authorisation to conduct research in 2001. In 2002, he managed the office of ecology and environmental risks at the Ministry for the Environment. He was in charge of around 20 different national research programmes before the French National Research Agency (ANR) existed. “These national research programmes help direct multidisciplinary scientific communities towards priority areas of study by enabling dialogue between programme scientific councils and steering committees of stakeholders, and especially public policymakers,” explains Patrick. For five years, he developed research and innovation in the areas of biodiversity; soil, water and air pollution; climate change, and natural and health risks. It was an opportunity to apply research results to public policies and guide research towards policy challenges with regard to the environment.

Creating a link between scientific knowledge and public policy

In 2005, Patrick Flammarion joined INRA as an advisor and Secretary General of the Management Board, where he oversaw INRA’s partnerships with the Ministries of Agriculture and the Environment.  Three years later, he became the Deputy Director for Research, and then Director of Science and Technology at the National Office for Water and Aquatic Environments (ONEMA), now called the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB, previously AFB). “My job was to help create a new interface structure between science and public policy, and especially for water and aquatic environment issues, which brought me back to my first love as a researcher in aquatic ecotoxicology,” Patrick says.

All of these experiences put him on a path where science, policy and society all interacted and which he would follow through to today. “With my experience in research and public organisations leading concrete projects on the environment and water, I’ve always worked hard to support the link between public policy and research so that the people I represent can work together. It’s a position ‘between two worlds’ that is sensitive but fascinating.”

Water at the European level

In 2013, Patrick took over as head of the “Water” Scientific Division at IRSTEA and went back into scientific management at AllEnvi, the French national alliance for environmental research, to unite the scientific communities working in the field of water in France and Europe. “I led the creation of the strategic research and innovation agenda at the European level so that the Member States could achieve a consensus on their water policies,” says Patrick. “It took a lot of listening and a constant search for balance. I was able to convince them to use foresight studies to move away from simply expressing needs that were barely extrapolated from reality.” In 2015, he was appointed President of the Strategic Steering Committee for the Environment at the French National Research Agency (ANR) and was tasked with drawing up a roadmap in this area.

Strength in numbers

This merger is a genuinely new scientific project

After being named the Deputy Director General for Research and Innovation at IRSTEA in 2017, he was responsible for three scientific divisions (water, ecotechnologies and territories), departments in charge of international development, public and private partnerships, evaluation and foresight studies. It was also in this role that he became involved in the merger between INRA and IRSTEA. “We saw that key synergies could be created between the respective areas of expertise and the scientific challenges of the two institutes. This merger is a genuinely new scientific project”.


Emmanuelle Mancktranslated by Teri Jones-Villeneuve


Patrick FlammarionDeputy Director General of Expertise & Support for Public Policies