The COP21 climate conference held in Paris in 2015 concluded a major agreement committing 195 states to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, drawing on the work of IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) experts and recognizing the impact of human activities on the evolution of the climate system. The ultimate ambition of the Paris Agreement is to limit man-made global warming to significantly below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to make efforts to even reach the 1.5°C target.

On 1 June 2017, in response to the United States’ decision to leave the Paris Agreement, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel MACRON, called on researchers and teachers, entrepreneurs, associations and NGOs, students and the civil society to mobilize and join France in the fight against global warming. In July, this call was followed by Germany, illustrating thereby France’s and Germany’s desire to be at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

This has given rise to the “Make Our Planet Great Again” international research initiative (funded by the Secrétariat Général Pour l’Investissement (SGPI) and the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)), which is managed by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and l’Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) on behalf of all French research organizations, and by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) in Germany. In the program, scientists are invited to do research on the functioning of the Earth system, climate change, sustainable development and energy transition. The global challenges are complex and intertwined by nature. While a thorough understanding of the Earth system is required, key issues such as global health, food, water and energy must also be studied from an ecological, biological, environmental, social, technological and economic perspective. The primary objective shall be to propose mitigation and adaptation strategies for societies, as provided for in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This implies the development of high-level research teams, ranging from basic research projects to solution-oriented research projects, bringing together scientists with international scope. To answer those challenges, 55 projects combining foreign researchers and French and German research teams were selected.

This conference officially launches the “MOPGA” program in France and Germany.

BMBF/Laurence Chaperon
BMBF/Laurence Chaperon

Anja Karliczek

Member of the German Bundestag
Federal Minister of Education and Research

Heat waves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels – global climate change is putting the livelihoods of ever more people on all continents at stake. The Paris Agreement clearly states our goal, namely to achieve climate neutrality by the middle of the century. Now more than ever we need research and innovation to breathe life into this aim.
We want to learn even more about the mechanisms of climate change and its impact on the oceans, coastal regions and continents. How will global warming affect biological diversity and our food sources? How can cities grow without further amplifying the effects of climate change at local level? How can we successfully switch to a sustainable energy system?
It is the creativity and enthusiasm of young research talent in particular which helps to lay the foundations for a sustainable future. After all, climate change will affect the young generations the most, which is why their dedication and unbiased approach to research is especially important and valuable.
The “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative by France and Germany offers outstanding young researchers the chance to realize their pioneering ideas for climate, energy and earth system research at leading French and German research institutions and universities. We are convinced that only through joint effort can we master the challenges of climate change. Cross-border exchange and networking are the key to solving this multifaceted problem. This Franco-German conference makes an important contribution to this effort.

MESRI/XR Pictures
MESRI/XR Pictures

Frédérique Vidal

French Minister for Higher Education
Research and Innovation

The recent IPCC Special report : global warming 1.5°C  confirms the 1°C warming above pre-industrial levels and stresses that it is still possible to limit the global warming to 1.5°C, thus also limiting the adverse effects for mankind and the environment, but that it requires strong public policies and correctly oriented investments. This report also calls for strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. It brings the evidence that the sustainable development goals are strongly intricated, need to be reached all together, all over the world, requiring an outstanding scientific effort.
This is the reason why the Make Our Planet Great Again calls are based on three pillars: understanding the earth system and the climate change, developing sustainability sciences and developing solutions for the ecology and energy transitions.
French and German research communities have been active for quite some time in those domains. The excellence of their labs proved attractive for 55 exceptional talents coming back from all over the world, especially from the USA, to France and Germany to jointly attack the difficult challenges posed by climate change, and develop solutions.
This German-french scientific cooperation is very stimulating indeed and I am very happy that our two countries join forces on this so important issue.