Closer scientific cooperation
For two years, under ADEME’s coordination, the Interlink project has enabled African scientists to form closer ties with their European counterparts and gain better insight into the European environmental research programme.
The Interlink project started in October 2007 as part of the European Union’s Sixth European Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP6). Its aim was to promote international scientific cooperation in the area of the environment between Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Newly Independent States (NIS). “Interlink aims to extend the network between the national contact points (NCP) for the environment1 and the other research relays”, explains Nadège Austin, who coordinated the project for the Direction of International Affairs. “The French Environment NCP, ADEME, was responsible for coordinating the action of the 27 partners, enabling it to strengthen its lead role among the European environment NCPs as well as to boost its visibility in the eyes of the European Commission.”
Three areas of joint actions
In terms of its actions, Interlink has three main areas of focus. "The first is to inform and encourage participation in the FP. We presented the financing opportunities provided under this programme to more than 3,000 people at 55 information conferences in Africa, the NIS and in Europe. This information is published on the Interlink website (www.interlink-fp6.com), which also provides information and feedback of FP success stories, and a brochure clearly setting out the rules for participating in this programme."
The second area involves identifying common research priorities in Europe and Africa. “Together with the European Commission, we organised a meeting in Brussels (Belgium) between the Directorate-General for Research and 25 representatives of the African scientific community. Eight of the ten environmental topics identified as having priority for Afr January 2010, which is very strong recognition for our work."
The final component in the project enabled to identify 77 scientific networks in Africa, Europe and the NIS specialised in the environment and potential project partners. Some 130 of these scientists met at Interlink’s final seminar held in Vienna (Austria), on 16 and 17 September this year. “Wrapped up at the end of September, Interlink has been a resounding success”, concludes Nadège Austin. “It has strengthened cooperation between the Environment NCPs in Europe and the rest of the world, and between scientific networks. Today, its action is continuing through other cooperation projects between the Environment NCPs, such as ENV-NCP-Together in which ADEME is a partner.”
1. The NCPs are the information relays between the European Commission and the project carriers. There is one NCP per country, per programme and per topic.