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| Editorial

The Spring Council reaffirmed climate change and clean energy as the top policy priorities of the European Union. This is the first of the seven key challenges defined by the renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy (hereafter, the Strategy) of June 2006, where research and development plays an important and multifaceted role.

Research is needed to feed policy and address the seven key challenges of the Strategy. It is also needed for new, long-term and visionary concepts, for developing new technologies that allow us to shift our economy onto a smart growth trajectory, and for supporting monitoring and assessment tools and indicators.

This is strongly reflected in FP7. Indeed, legislators have expressed a robust and coherent will to see the whole of FP7 dedicated to sustainability. Beyond environmental research, the FP7 in its entirety is tailored for sustainable development, creating a mirror effect in relation to the Strategy.

The Cooperation Programme, the largest part of FP7 (with around 60% of the total budget) has ten themes, each of which calls for sustainable development-related research. Beyond environmental research, all other themes have been mobilised to bring sustainable solutions: agricultural research is geared towards the sustainable use and production of renewable bio-resources; research in information and communication technologies addresses smart sensors network to improve natural resources management, or increase energy efficiency; research in energy aims at promoting a more sustainable energy system and research in transport a greener transport system; in social sciences and humanities, new concepts will be called for in order to break the link between economic prosperity and environmental degradation. FP7 will also allow research for monitoring, indicators and assessment tools.

The strong sustainability characteristic of FP7 will produce a leverage effect in the European Research Area, as national research policies are also polarised towards addressing the challenge of climate change and clean energy. Furthermore, ERA-Nets and technology platforms are creating a robust strategic web of research agendas linking the EU and national levels.

The prominence of the climate change issue in the political debate and the need to care for the other dimensions of sustainability (biodiversity, pollution, management of natural resources) is a major success of environmental research.

I am pleased to be part of this coordinated effort and to announce that a website portal dedicated to providing consolidated information on FP7's contribution to sustainable development will be launched in the course of September.

Nicole Dewandre, Head of Unit I.2: Sustainable Development
Research Directorate-General
European Commission



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