Illustration. © Delphine Guard-Lavastre, CIRAD

Social responsibility

CIRAD is convinced that the social and environmental aspects of development transcend economics. It has put sustainable development firmly at the heart of its remit, and strives to set an example in terms of its practices and their impact. From responsible business travel to procurement procedures that promote the circular economy, through quality of work life and sustainable mass catering, it sees a range of social responsibility issues as levers for action.
A policy in line with international standards
CIRAD has founded its social responsibility (CSR) policy on principles relating to human rights, international labour standards, the environment and the fight against corruption. Its remit and practices are guided by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on climate, France's road map for the 2030 Agenda, and the Global Compact, a United Nations initiative launched in 2000 to encourage companies worldwide to take a socially responsible stance.

An inclusive organization attached to quality of work life

Gender equality in the workplace: on the right track

CIRAD has an ambitious plan for gender equality in the workplace, centring on three pillars: integrating gender equality into the organization's governance and internal operations, including gender aspects in scientific and partnership strategy, and promoting CIRAD's work on gender equality issues.

That strategy was drafted as part of an EU Horizon 2020 project, "Gender-SMART", coordinated by CIRAD and involving nine partners in all. It follows on from the second corporate agreement (2017-2020) on gender equality in the workplace and work/life balance. These various tools are monitored closely and regularly.

Gender equality index: CIRAD scores 88/100 (as of 1 March 2021)

Substantial resources devoted to recruiting and supporting employees with disabilities

CIRAD has a determined policy of recruiting and supporting employees with disabilities. In 2009, General Management signed an agreement with the unions, which is revised every three years. It has five components:

  • recruiting people with disabilities
  • supporting employees faced with disabilities
  • tapping into the skills available in the sheltered employment sector
  • making its premises accessible
  • raising awareness to ensure a long-term change in mindset.

The disability officer and disability correspondents within overseas regional offices lead these operations, with the support of a multidisciplinary network, both inside CIRAD (management, HR, occupational psychologist, social worker, health coordinator, staff representatives) and outside (occupational physician, national employment agency and national agency for the employment of people with disabilities). CIRAD has gone beyond its legal obligations since 2014 by devoting a payroll share of more than 6% to employees with disabilities. Lastly, since 2018, it has been a member of the "Référents Handicap Occitanie" network, and is associated with the Handijob regional forum

The seven priorities for quality of work life

CIRAD is a member of an inter EPIC-EPST network on quality of work life, and has identified seven priorities, based on the results of a survey on the issue. They are:

  • the return to work
  • a support network
  • psychosocial risk awareness raising
  • personal assistance programmes
  • mission statements (specifying the role of each employee)
  • opportunities to express an opinion on working conditions
  • management training.

A social barometer has been introduced and will be extended at regular intervals, to adjust the system as required.

An environmental process that is gaining momentum

Sustainable management of power and water consumption

Reductions of more than 10% in electricity consumption and 20% in heat consumption have been achieved since 2012. Investment has enabled the renovation of heat networks, the replacement of existing energy equipment and installations with higher performance systems, and the deployment of a smart energy management system to better align energy supply with actual consumption requirements.

Moreover, CIRAD uses rainwater tanks to water and cool the experimental greenhouses on the Lavalette campus in Montpellier. It has drastically reduced watering of green spaces, using mulching techniques and opting for plant species suited to the local climate.

Regular carbon footprint monitoring

In 2018, the establishment conducted its fifth carbon assessment, covering all of the sites it owns. Between 2012 and 2018, it cut greenhouse gas emissions for the energy component by 12%. Work has begun to reduce the carbon footprint for business travel – directly linked to our action in the countries of the global South – notably through the drafting of a charter on air travel.

Responsible management of waste and hazardous materials

CIRAD has adopted centralized management of its waste from activities in Montpellier to control the risks of pollution and to encourage better recycling. This organization is based on the traceability of waste sorting, storage and transport processes for appropriate treatment and favours local channels. In total, 110 kg of waste were generated per employee in 2019, which represents a reduction of 19 kg since 2012 for the sites in Montpellier.

Replacing pesticides

CIRAD is continuing its research on agroecological practices aimed at providing sustainable solutions and limiting pesticide use. In line with its core business, plant collections in experimental greenhouses are protected using beneficial insects and biological control methods, with pesticide use limited to 2%. CIRAD has also banned chemical pesticides from maintenance practices on its different sites (Montpellier, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana). This “zero pesticide” approach has enabled its Montpellier sites to obtain the refuge label from the French bird protection league.

Sustainable catering and responsible procurement

In Montpellier, CIRAD has introduced a sustainable catering process on its Montpellier campuses, with meals prepared on-site using certified local, high nutritional value, seasonal products and vegetarian alternatives. Measures have been taken to reduce food waste and to recycle biowaste. The average amount of biowaste per meal has fallen by 43% in three years.

CIRAD includes in its calls for tender social and environmental clauses aimed at encouraging innovation and improving access for SMEs. In 2019, it exceeded most of the recommendations of the Direction des Achats de l’Etat (DAE - State procurement department). For procurement with environmental provisions, the figure at CIRAD is 27% (DAE recommendation: 15%); for procurement with social provisions, the figure at CIRAD is 23% (DAE recommendation: 20%); and for procurement from SMEs, the figure at CIRAD is 84% (DAE recommendation: 25%).

Close collaboration with its peers on CSR

CIRAD staff members are among the founders and active members of QuaRES (an association for quality in research and higher education). QuaRES links more than 3000 players in the higher education and research sectors, organizes seminars and training courses, publishes books, and participates in EU research projects in the global South. It is building a partnership with CIRSES, a network working to promote social responsibility and sustainable development within the higher education sector.

Lastly, along with the conférence des Grandes Ecoles, the conférence des Présidents d’Université and CIRSES, CIRAD is involved in revising the sustainable development label for higher education establishments, notably in order to open up the label to research organizations.