Vincent, Environmental Policy
Vincent Virat has graduated from the Master in Environmental Policy. His goal was to specialise as much as he could in biodiversity conservation and agriculture policies, with a close look at how governance can play a key role in reaching sustainability.
As a Science Officer at Future Earth, an international research programme, Vincent has the mission to accelerate the transformations to global sustainability through research and innovation.
How did you secure this role?
I was first hired at Future Earth as an intern during my third semester at PSIA, which then turned into a part-time position during my fourth semester at PSIA. At the end of my studies, I was then hired as a full time science officer (August 2018).
What is your role and main responsibilities?
The goal of Future Earth is to manage a global network of Global Environmental Change researchers and to encourage collaboration around key, societally-relevant activities. With this in mind, I am coordinating the development of an initiative called “Science-Based Pathways for Sustainability”. The initiative’s main objective is to foster the development of integrated pathways (or trajectories) to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national, regional and global scales through interactions between scientists and stakeholders. More specifically, I am (i) coordinating a high-level scientific committee of 18 researchers to put together the initiative’s global framework, (ii) coordinating the pilot phase of the initiative, including organising workshops in various countries and (iii) liaising with the various members of our network to include them in this process (which includes travelling to inperson meetings).
What is the most fascinating and/or surprising aspect at your role?
Working in an international environment and interacting with scientists from all over the world has definitely been a rewarding and fascinating experience so far. Indeed, the Secretariat of Future Earth (the coordination structure) is based in 5 different countries (France, the United States, Canada, Sweden and Japan), while our scientific community is present in every continent. Learning and building professional relationships with such a diversity of people is truly what makes Future Earth a universe of its own. While it is mostly online work (meetings), it is always a pleasure to meet members of our scientific community during in-person meetings such a climate and biodiversity COPs, to which we always send a delegation.
How did your PSIA experience help you with the role?
PSIA allowed me to secure essential skills in synthesis and communication, which are key competencies for managing research networks (e.g. gathering different views, or similar views expressed in different ways etc.). PSIA also gave me the needed interdisciplinary knowledge on sustainable development, together with a capacity to have a good overview of current sustainability issues, which is often very helpful when one is working with very disciplinary researchers (e.g. working with marine biology scientists on broader issues such as societal transformation).
What advice would you give to others?
It is good to try and specialise yourself during your studies at PSIA and avoid dispersion. Building that expertise in one or two key topics can really help you make an impression when applying for jobs and/or internships. And always be open about your first and second jobs, they will not dictate who/what you will become, but they will certainly teach you many things.