07.03.2014 - Natural Sciences Sector

Tribute to Jacques Weber

Mr Jacques Weber. © UNESCO

The MAB Secretariat is greatly saddened to inform you, with regret, of the death of Jacques Weber, anthropologist and economist, Director of Research at the International Centre for Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) in France, former Director of the French Biodiversity Institute, Vice-president of the French national MAB Committee and President of the association Les petits débrouillards.

The MAB family has lost a second great personality, just months after the demise of Robert Barbault, co-author with Jacques Weber of La vie, quelle entreprise ! (Life, what an enterprise!) in 2011. The two researchers were bound by a deep and lasting friendship. Jacques’ death comes as an immense loss for the scientific community, for his colleagues and for his many friends.

Atypical, visionary, free, provocative and generous, with a great sense of humour, Jacques Weber spent his life observing human behaviour and the societies in which he lived and worked. He was driven, first and foremost, by the desire to understand what made people behave the way they did; he tried to slip into the skin of others to see things from their perspective, to look beyond appearances.

Jacques Weber thrived on dialogue, rebuttal, argumentation. When asking a question, he always made a point of giving background information and any other useful elements which might help people refute his point of view.

That was his way of tackling problems, by asking questions. Enquiry was more important to Jacques Weber than the accumulation of knowledge. He always strived to understand the relationship between people and things, between people and the rest of the living world. He embraced complexity, the complexity of human interaction between individuals and between groups, whom he considered to be all unique, all different. He was a master of crossing borders!

Whether these borders concerned disciplines, cultures, generations or countries made no difference; he never stopped flirting with them, in order to develop his own ideas and projects. He liked to share his vision with anyone who would listen, a vision of a world in which all living  beings are interdependent.

We address our sincere condolences to his wife, son and grandchildren. The itinerary of Jacques Weber, his work and his network, is a source of inspiration to us. Like an untiring gardener, he sowed seeds everywhere on our fair planet. Jacques had a gift for attracting talent from all kinds of disciplines and horizons and of all ages. There is no doubt that others will take up the banner. We would like to thank him for all the things he initiated, enriched, passed on and shared with us all those years by our side. Already, we miss his uniqueness and his originality terribly.    




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