PRESS RELEASE – On 9 November 2023 in Paris, the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) and the French Polar Institute (IPEV) formalised their collaboration in polar and high-altitude science. The MoU opens a new chapter in this long-term partnership between France and Switzerland, two neighbouring countries that share not only a border, but also the Alps and glaciers threatened by climate change.

Scientific research and collaboration between Switzerland and France have made significant contributions to climate science over the last decades, most notably in uncovering the ice cores’ potential in understanding past greenhouse gas emissions and changes in Earth’s atmosphere and climate. This collaboration has grown and developed through various multinational research programmes, such as the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA, 1996-2005) and its current counterpart, Beyond EPICA (2019 – ongoing).

The present MoU honours their continuous and mutual engagement in scientific cooperation with facilitated access to respective research infrastructure in the Arctic and the Antarctic, as well as to other resources and research projects, such as the SPI’s Flagship Initiatives. It also aims to foster regular exchanges between both research communities and to promote their respective expertise for a heightened handprint of polar and high-altitude science.

The signing ceremony took place at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, in the context of the One Planet – Polar Summit dedicated to glaciers and polar regions, in the presence of Sylvie Retailleau, French Minister of Higher Education and Research and Martina Hirayama, Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation who highlighted the importance of this scientific partnership:

“The areas of cooperation, from climate change and glaciology to ecology and biodiversity, reflect the importance of the issues we must address. Our natural environment is precious, and it is our duty to preserve it. The research we carry out in these polar and high-altitude regions is crucial to understanding the challenges we face with climate change.”

« Les domaines de coopération mentionnés, du changement climatique à la glaciologie en passant par l’écologie et la biodiversité, reflètent l’importance des enjeux que nous devons affronter. Notre environnement naturel est précieux, et il est de notre devoir de le préserver. La recherche que nous menons dans ces régions polaires et de haute altitude est cruciale pour comprendre les défis auxquels nous sommes confrontés avec le changement climatique. »

— Martina Hirayama, Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation

The signing parties were respectively represented by Yan Ropert-Coudert, Director, IPEV and Danièle Rod, Executive Director, SPI, who also underlined the urgency and necessity of a united front to face climate change:

“This shared institutional framework will also enable us to join forces in view of the major challenges that await us in the coming years. The polar and high-altitude regions are changing very rapidly. The scientific challenge is immense, and we take our responsibility very seriously to make the international initiatives discussed here, during this Summit, possible.”

— Danièle Rod, Executive Director, Swiss Polar Institute

About the Swiss Polar Institute
At the service of the Swiss polar and high-altitude community
In its capacity as a research institution of national importance, the Swiss Polar Institute supports Swiss polar and high-altitude science at the core of its mission, through funding instruments, international collaboration, training courses and outreach programmes.

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X: @SwissPolar

About the French Polar Institute Paul-Émile Victor
The French Polar Institute Paul-Émile Victor (IPEV) is the agency of means and skills at the service of scientific research in the polar regions and has the status of a public interest group (GIP). Its mission comprises the implementation of scientific projects, the management of the logistical resources required to implement projects and international scientific collaboration. IPEV runs a joint station with the Alfred-Wegener-Institut (AWI) in Svalbard, as well as stations in the Subantarctic islands and Antarctica.

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Press enquiries
Swiss Polar Institute: Jelena Ristic, Communication Officer, , +41 21 693 76 39

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More information
Science diplomacy: State Secretary Martina Hirayama at the Paris Peace Forum’s One Planet Polar Summit (

Header image: From left to right: Danièle Rod (Executive Director, SPI), Martina Hirayama (Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation), Sylvie Retailleau (French Minister of Higher Education and Research) and Yan Ropert-Coudert (Director, IPEV)