The Ineris Objectives and Performance Contract (OPC) is the end result of a strategic review initiated in 2018 on the evolution of our strategic priorities. This process was initiated following a dual observation: a fundamental shift in expectations from civil society showing the need for robust and independent expertise to support the implementation of public policy in the field of risk prevention. In addition, the process of modernising the French public sector (which has been ongoing since 2012) requires adaption to the limitations imposed with regard to public subsidies and employment.
In its 2020 assessment report, the High council for research evaluation and higher education (Hcéres) noted that the major challenge for Ineris was now to continue providing an adequate response to the demands of public authorities and wider societal concerns despite the regular reduction of staff numbers, which will result in the loss of almost a fifth of the workforce over 10 years.
As such, the COP 2021-2025 lays out a new strategy reconciling these two aspects while also setting an ambitious goal: securing the ecological transition and industrial renewal. A new organisational structure for the Institute came into effect as of 1 January, and will serve to support the recalibration of Ineris operations being implemented through the OPC.
An original and proven operating model
Through the OPC 2021-2025, the Institute will be developing partnerships and re-centring operations around its original scope of activity: the prevention of technological risk factors and pollution. This also reaffirms its primary mission to support and guide public policy, and the relevance of its ‘tripod’ operating model. The ‘tripod’ combines a role in supporting public policy with applied research operations and business services, giving the expertise provided by Ineris a unique operational character that straddles public interest, economic objectives and academic requirements.
In order to establish the OPC, the Institute has drawn upon contributions from its governing bodies: the Scientific Council and the Committee for Orientation, Research and Expertise (CORE), which represents stakeholders from civil society. Its considerations were further informed by the evaluation carried out by Hcéres, which identified the Institute’s primary assets as its ability to jointly provide rapid responses to emergencies and anticipate developing risks, its comprehensive facilities with international connections, its strong European outreach and the scientific capabilities demonstrated through the successful collaboration in national and European programmes.
Streamlined operations centred around 3 key areas
The Institute will pursue its operational development by building upon its “historic” basis: the study and control of risk at industrial sites or area-wide levels. This approach addresses growing societal expectations by deepening its expertise in the classification of dangers posed by substances, and their impact on human life and biodiversity. Finally, it supports the ecological transition by devoting a portion of its resources to the management of risks linked to the energy transition and circular economy. These three aspects enable the Institute to structure its objectives for the 13 key activities it has identified within its operational scope.
In particular, the 2021-2025 strategy is intended to address the need, highlighted by the feedback from Ineris’ response to the fire at the Lubrizol and Normandie Logistics sites in Rouen in 2019, to significantly extend its capacity to support public authorities in an emergency situation or environmental crisis. Ineris’ programmes will also focus on the issue of security for an industrial sector currently undergoing a fundamental shift with the development of “digital factories” and “sustainable factories.” The new strategy also aims to strengthen the Institute’s positioning vis-a-vis the preservation of biodiversity, through its expertise in the risk assessment and management of ecotoxicity of chemical substances. In terms of the energy transition, Ineris will focus its efforts on the hydrogen energy, electrochemical storage, biogas and deep geothermal sectors.
The OPC 2021-2025 continues to underline the Institute’s desire to communicate and respond to the needs of its stakeholders - a desire which is reflected in its pioneering approach to openness to society, which was initiated in 2008, and by the particular focus it has placed on ethical issues for over 20 years. Over the next five years, the Institute will dedicate itself to the development of its role as a “sentinel”, anticipating emerging risks in accordance with this spirit of openness.
The OPC: How it works
The OPC is a management and dialogue tool for the relationship between Ineris, a state operator, and its administrative overseer: the Ministry for Ecological Transition. It sets out the directions for actions taken by the operator, and defines the processes by which they are implemented. It lays out six strategic orientations for 2021-2025, subdivided into twenty objectives which are themselves broken down into actions and associated with various milestones and performance indicators. Ineris will publicly acknowledge whether these have been met in its annual report. The Institute’s OPC (which is not coupled with any obligation of means) is revisable over the course of its performance, in order to ensure that the means available will always be proportional to the objectives set.