At the heart of Irstea’s strategic plan is its ambition to become a French leader and major European player in environmental research.
When the institute set forth this goal in 2008, it was committing to a project with both scientific and organizational aspects. Since then, Irstea's new founding statement released in 2012, exceptional scientific results  and a particularly favorable AERES evaluation  have all confirmed this position.
As environmental challenges escalate, new priorities requiring research emerge: ecological and energy transitions, agroecology, and the link between the environment and health. Moreover, within a context of continued economic crisis, research is now expected to contribute significantly to national and European competitiveness (Fioraso Law on Higher Education and Research, H2020 program).
Irstea's strategic plan
The strategic plan aims to meet key socioeconomic challenges:
- Sustainable land management, especially in agricultural and suburban areas; their resources (water in particular); their output (food and energy); and human, economic and financial flows.
- Predicting and preventing natural (high water, flooding, avalanches) and environmental (chemical, biological, etc.) hazards.
- Conserving biodiversity and its contribution to the production of resources (forest biomass).
- Challenge 1: Designing tools and methods to identify, understand and act on environmental quality.
- Challenge 2: Natural resources and land use towards a multisectoral approach and adaptive management.
- Challenge 3: Widening the approach to risks by conducting viability studies of environmental systems.
2 unique strengths
- A research continuum with activities ranging from basic to targeted research, mainly developed to support public policy and expertise, and prioritizing a local/regional scale.
- Prioritizing partnerships as the modus operandi, mostly with French, European and international teaching and research organizations, the AllEnvi and PEER networks, and public institutions such as local - especially regional - authorities and economic authorities through the Carnot network and the Carnot Environment Alliance, currently under development to meet the need for integrated knowledge of manmade environmental systems.
: An increase in high-ranking scientific journal publications (442 in 2012) and in HDR or "accreditation to supervise research" ranking (the 100th HDR was celebrated in November 2013), a high success rate for ANR project bids for the 7th European Research and Development Framework Programme (RDFP) (29% compared to a French average of 24%), an increasing number of appraisals, maintaining teaching and training efforts, and numerous successes as part of the Investments for the Future program.
 The 2012-2013 AERES evaluation provided particularly encouraging results with a good score for our research groups. The institute was also recognized for its scientific and technical excellence in land use planning and sustainable land and resource management, especially agricultural and natural; the relevance of its interdisciplinary approach; its size, considered conducive to European and international partnerships; its leadership position in support of public policy; and its effective transfer activities for both the public and private sectors.