Only few weeks ahead of the United Nations Conference in Copenhagen, climate change is high on the political and scientific agenda. The Environment Directorate of DG Research is closely following the developments towards a global post-Kyoto agreement on how to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions. The Third World Climate Conference held in Switzerland in late August and early September focused on climate prediction and information for decision-making and was actively supported by the Environment Directorate.
Earlier this year, in May, over 900 scientists, R&D policy-makers and representatives of industry and civil society – among which this years' Economy Nobel-Prize winner Prof. Elinor Ostrom – came together in Brussels to discuss the multiple ways through which European research contributes to global sustainable development. I invite you to browse through this newsletter's coverage of the outcome of these two major conferences.
As the end of the year is approaching, I would also like to use the opportunity to summarise some of this year's activities of the Directorate: With a total budget contribution of €208.5 million, the Environment Directorate of DG Research was engaged in the follow-up of four calls for proposals launched in 2008: the general Environment call and the ERA-Net call as well as cross-thematic calls on Sustainable Biorefineries and treatment of nanotechnology-based products. 357 proposals were received with a total requested EC contribution of around €1.44 billion. Following evaluation by independent experts, 172 proposals passed all evaluation thresholds. 70 proposals (41%) were selected with a view to conclude grant agreements by the end of 2009. Proposals passing all evaluation thresholds involved around 2 400 participants, whilst more than 1 000 applicants (43%) participate in proposals selected for funding. Among the proposals suggested for funding, SME participation reached 17% in terms of requested EC contribution.
While negotiations for grant agreements relating to these 2009 calls are ongoing, the Commission published a next series of calls for proposals on 30 July 2009. In the light of the economic crisis and the negotiations towards a new climate agreement, the 2010 Work Programme addresses some new policy drivers, in particular the European Economic Recovery Plan and the Energy-Climate-Package. Under the overarching theme 'Environmental safety and welfare', the work programme approaches these priority issues cross-thematically, enhancing the links with other sectors, such as energy, transport, health as well as food and agriculture. Geographically-speaking, special attention is given to Africa, with a dedicated call addressing key Science & Technology objectives of the Africa-EU-Strategic Partnership, notably ‘Water & Food Security’.
The Environment Directorate coordinates the 2010 Environment call and the Africa call. We also contribute to the Public-Private-Partnership calls on energy-efficient buildings and green cars as well as to the 2010 ERA-NET call and the Ocean of Tomorrow call. In September, many potential participants attended our successful Infodays to learn more about the general Environment call and the Africa call. This newsletter's coverage of the Infodays will give you a little review and guide you to videos and presentations of the Infodays.
Manuela Soares, Director for Environmental Research