The Belmont Forum aims to accelerate the delivery of the environmental research needed to remove critical barriers to sustainability by aligning and mobilizing international resources, by adding value to existing national investments and by encouraging in interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary partnerships. It was created in 2009 and represents a group of the world’s major and emerging funders of global environmental change research. The Forum is composed of members from Austria, Australia, Brazil, China, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Qatar, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the USA. Funding Agencies from New-Zealand, the Russian Federation and Sweden expressed their interest to join the Belmont Forum as new members . The International Social Sciences Council (ISSC), the International Science Council (ICSU), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) are (non-funding) partners.
The current co-chairs are the European Commission (Kurt Vandenberghe, co-chair since 2015; until recently Director for Climate action and resource efficiency, and now Director for Policy development and coordination - both in the European Commission's DG for Research & Innovation) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (Mr Satoru Ohtake, Senior Executive Director, co-chair since 2013). As from 2016, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, Gilberto Camâra, Director General) will succeed the Japan Agency as second co-chair.
The transnational research initiatives that are being promoted by the Belmont Forum are developed in synergy with Horizon 2020 and with Innovation projects developed by EU Members States. The Research and Innovation Directorate General's involvement in the Belmont Forum witnesses the European Commission's conviction that addressing the ever further increasing needs resulting from the global change challenges has to be supported by an open, transdisciplinary and results-oriented international scientific cooperation. It strengthens the already major financial involvement of the European Union in international initiatives such as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, the EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture and the Future Earth initiative. It thus further consolidates the place the EU-funded research at the very heart of the current world-wide move towards a more active involvement of Science, Technology and Innovation in the realisation of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
As one of its major activities, the Belmont Forum launches Collaborative Research Actions (CRAs) on specific themes. The CRAs have centralized objectives but the financing of the individual components/projects is the responsibility of the various participating agencies. EU funded programs such as ERA-NETs, and EU Joint Programming Initiatives are directly involved in the ongoing implementation of CRAs in the following fields: Coastal Vulnerability (2012), Freshwater Security (2012), Food Security (2013) , E-Infrastructure (2013) , Biodiversity and Ecosystem (2014), Arctic (2014), Mountain (2015), Climate Predictability (2015). New CRAs in the fields of Global Urbanization , Transformation to Sustainability and'Open access to data and e-Infrastructures' will take off in 2016. The 2 first ones of those CRAs have been labelled as "Belmont Forum Future Earth CRAs" , because they directly contribute to the realization of the objectives of Future Earth.
The Belmont forum is thus fully complementary to Future Earth, an ambitious new initiative launched at the Rio+20 Summit following the promotion by the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability (in short the 'Alliance', composed of the International council for Science, the international Social Sciences Council, the Belmont Forum, UNEP, UNESCO, the United Nations University and the World Meteorological Organisation). Future Earth forms a global, independent platform for scientific collaboration on global change research and sustainability around 8 key sustainability challenges identified in the Future Earth Vision 2025, namely: ‘Healthy and resilient cities’; ‘Safeguarding natural assets’; ‘Decarbonising energy systems’; ‘Water, energy, food nexus’; ‘resilience, threshold and transformation’; ‘Sustainable production and consumption’; ‘Human and planetary health’; ‘Rural futures’. Ways of concrete collaborations and interactions between Future Earth and the Belmont Forum (including the European Commission) are currently being explored and may result in additional CRAs in areas of specific interest to Future Earth.
- Belmont Forum - "funding research to address the challenges of global environmental change”
Brussels, 30 November 2016