Email This Page

The French polar institute forges a range of partnerships, operating in polar research but also environmental or international management or even geopolitical issues.

CNFRA –French National Committee for Arctic and Antarctic Research

The Comité National Français des Recherches Arctiques and Antarctiques (CNFRA) is an Association under the 1901 law (declaration of 29 June 1995, published in the Journal Official of 19 July 1995).

The purposes of CNFRA are as follows:

  • promoting French scientific studies and research in the Arctic regions, Subarctic, Antarctic and Subantarctic regions;
  • ensuring representation of France on the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR:) and its specialist groups;
  • favouring international cooperation and supporting French researchers’ interactions in international programmes;
  • providing a forum for developing scientific programmes;
  • contributing to communication and dissemination of information on scientific research undertaken in the polar and subpolar regions.

CNFRA headquarters is at Cofusi, the French Committee for ICSU (International Council for Science), at the French Academy of Sciences, Paris.

CNFRA Science Days
Multidisciplinary Science Days are held each year in conjunction with the French polar institute. They aim to promote French polar research and give the opportunity for encounters between scientists working in polar and sub-polar environments. They are also a remarkable opportunity to bring science out from the laboratory walls by catalysing dialogue between specialists and the public. To encourage this they are open for all. Programmes and summaries of science day talks and events can be downloaded from:

French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF)

The French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises) constitute an Overseas Territory, set up in 1955 under the law of 6 August of that year. It operates as an administratively and financially autonomous authority. The TAAF covers the Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, the islands of Saint-Paul and Amsterdam, Adelie Land and the Scattered Islands of the Indian Ocean: Glorioso, Juan de Nova, Europa and Bassas da India in the Mozambique Channel and Tromelin to the north of Réunion Island.
For further information see:

No permanent population exists in the Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam, but scientific research stations have been established. The TAAF administration handles the stations’ operational management, while the French polar institute has charge of the scientific projects being developed there.

The polar institute’s missions and the challenging nature of sites where it operates crucially involves forging special international relations with other national polar institutes. Four major bilateral agreements have hence been signed, with:

The Italian Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide (PNRA)

under the partnership created in 1993, for the construction, then the management of a new French-Italian permanent station located far onto the Antarctic Plateau: Concordia station. See

The Alfred Wegener Institut (AWI)

Germany, involving the pooling of German and French infrastructures at Ny Alesund, Svalbard, setting up the AWIPEV station []. In 2003 the Arctic scientific base at Ny-Alesund joined up with the facilities of the Alfred Wegener Institute für Polar- und Meeresforschung (AWI), to form the Franco-German research station AWIPEV at Ny-Ålesund. This is a spacious centre for hosting personnel, providing scientific services and equipment, giving the opportunity to conduct research in different fields -especially in life sciences and atmospheric sciences.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)

in Australia, to facilitate cooperation in logistical operations between the two organizations; this agreement also aims to promote joint scientific ventures between the two countries in the Antarctic and on the subantarctic stations (2012).

The Belgian Federal Public Planning Service / Science policy (BELSPO)

with the idea of strengthening scientific and logistical collaboration in the Antarctic and preparing joint operations in the Arctic.

Other agreements involve the French polar institute’s cooperation with its Korean and American counterparts. Another major joint operation should be highlighted: an agreement signed with the European Space Agency (and our Italian partner, PNRA). This involves developing research holding specific interest for the agency, relating to human adaptation to long-distance space flight and technology of certain kinds of onboard equipment systems (wastewater treatment plant for example). For ESA, the characteristics and systems of Concordia station makes it an exceptional terrestrial model for carrying out such research.

Other than these bilateral agreements, the French polar institute takes part in several international forums. These include:

European Polar Board (EPB)

Launched in 2004, EPB brings together funding agencies and national polar organizations of 19 European countries including Russia. Its objective: to develop a multi-year Action Plan under the auspices of the European Union to strengthen European polar research by forging new synergies and optimization of resources.

Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP)

This international association, formed in 1988, brings together the national operators of support and delivery of scientific research in the Antarctic. COMNAP . It coordinates logistical means deployed in the Antarctic, through its permanent scientific committee SCALOP (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Logistics and Operations). It also has different working groups whose objectives are to smooth the organization of expeditions at international level and data exchange concerning Antarctic. Such exchange, one of the priorities under the Antarctic Treaty, leads to the progressive compilation of databases in each country developing activities in the Antarctic.

The JCADM (Joint Committee on Antarctic Data Management), initiated by SCAR and COMNAP, has the aim of bringing together and facilitating access to these databases. The French representative of SCAR is the National Committee for Arctic and Antarctic Research (CNFRA).

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)

The international effort for scientific cooperation in the Antarctic during the International Geophysical Year generated in March 1958 the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR).

SCAR, a non-governmental organization, under the authority of ICSU (International Council for Science), acts as a forum pulling together scientists from all countries having research programmes in the Antarctic. The committee’s mission is to foster planning of research and smooth efforts for international scientific cooperation in this part of the world. A research plan refocusing member countries around a selection of unifying themes was adopted:

  • The Antarctic and the Earth climate system
  • Long-term climate trends in the Antarctic
  • Evolution and biodiversity in the Antarctic
  • Environment of Antarctic subglacial lakes
  • Interactions between solar wind and terrestrial atmosphere

ATCM The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting:

CEP The Committee for Environmental Protection

(established under the Madrid Protocol)

IASC International Arctic Science Committee Founded in 1990, IASC is a non-governmental organization aimed at facilitating cooperation in the Arctic in all research fields. Consisting of 18 member organizations, the Committee meets once per year. The IASC Secretariat was based in Oslo, but is now in Potsdam, Germany.

Ny-Ålesund Science Managers Commitee (NySMAC)

The NySMAC contributes to the development of Ny-Ålesund as an outstanding site for Arctic research, through advancing cooperation between scientists and research projects, promoting the flagship programmes, and assisting in effective and sustainable utilization of Ny-Ålesund as a research site.The committee was established in 1994 to enhance cooperation and coordination with respect to research activities in Ny-Ålesund. NySMAC provides advice and comments on research projects, research planning and coordination, infrastructure development, and environmental protection.
NySMAC includes representatives from all parties with major research interests in Ny-Ålesund, and currently consists of 18 member institutions, and three observer institutions.

Forum of Arctic Research Operators (FARO)

FARO is a country membership organization that promotes dialogue on logistics and operational support for scientific research in the Arctic.FARO facilitates information exchange, establishment of cooperation and development of new ideas among national operators of ships, stations and aircrafts in the Arctic. FARO enables countries to optimize logistics and operational support for scientific research in the Arctic.











La Réunion




Pays de la Loire


Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur