The environment is a field where collaborative research traditionally has proven to be fruitful. Over the past few years, environmental concerns have gone mainstream and in the beginning of this year we saw climate change grab the headlines with the recent meetings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Everyone now seems to be waking up to the environmental threats facing us and the need for sustainable development.
The European Council in March 2007 called on Members States and EU institutions to pursue actions to develop a sustainable integrated European climate and energy policy, including new ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 (compared to emissions in 1990), and to increase the use of renewable energies to 20% of total energy use within the same timeframe. That will require a lot of environmental research and development, and we endeavour to contribute to tackling these major 21st century challenges.
This Spring has also seen the launch of the International Polar Year for the first time since 1957, with the prospect of unprecedented cooperation between polar scientists in a number of research projects.
If environmental challenges are becoming a general concern, European research has received an important boost to address them. The launch of the new €54 billion Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) in January 2007 is creating quite a stir, and environmental research is among the priorities. Within the FP7 'Cooperation' Programme, the theme dealing with environment (including climate change) has a budget of €1.9 billion. The first calls for environmental research proposals have already been launched, and the deadline of 2nd May is approaching rapidly. The environment research budget has €200 million earmarked for 2007. A total of 73 research topics are addressed, grouped into four areas: climate change, pollution and risks; sustainable management of resources; environmental technologies; and earth observation and assessment tools for sustainable development. Proposals will be evaluated in May, June and July, in view of selection and contracts signature by the end of the year.
With environmental concerns at the top of the international and European agenda and FP7 now launched, this is the right moment to launch a newsletter with the aim to inform about EU research for the environment. The newsletter is designed for a large and diverse audience of decision-makers, experts, project coordinators, scientific stakeholders and concerned citizens interested in the environment.
We hope that you enjoy our newsletter, that you find it informative, and most of all that it stimulates you to get involved and find out more. Do not hesitate to contact us for ideas and suggestions, including for new addressees.
Manuela Soares, Director for Environmental Research