- Polar Environment and Climate: The challenges - 27/09/2007
EC Directorate for Research organised on 5-6 March an international symposium on polar environment in the framework of the International Polar Year. The proceedings of the event highlight the latest observations and scientific achievements, providing an updated analysis of coming challenges.
- EU-India Research for Climate Change - 30/05/2007
EU Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik made his first official visit to India in early February 2007. One of the highlights was the EU-India Strategic Workshop on Climate Change Research: an opportunity for experts from Europe and India to discuss greater collaboration. EU-India cooperation in environmental research is not new, but increased public concerns about climate change and the launch of the new Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) in 2007 have given it added impetus.
- An international concern - 19/04/2007
In an increasingly interdependent world, we all face common challenges, like climate change, loss of biodiversity and desertification. The need for a joint effort, for international cooperation, is therefore evident. As concerns research, the EU has already demonstrated the benefits of pan-European collaboration, not least in the area of environment, and with the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), European research is still more open to third countries.
- Global Change and Ecosystems: how FP6 projects are tackling sustainable development - 26/03/2007
The Sixth Framework Programme for Research (FP6) which commenced in 2002 contributes to our growing understanding of environmental change and sustainable development. Its thematic sub-priority, "Global Change and Ecosystems" (GCE), brings together international partners from around the world in some 280 projects. Research focuses on the mechanisms and impacts of global environmental change as well as practical strategies and tools for sustainable development.
- EU’s new approach to the International Scientific and Technological Cooperation - 26/03/2007
Increasing global challenges call for concerted international collaboration. A new publication outlines the EC’s new approach to international cooperation under FP7, marking a significant departure from FP6. Whilst research in science and technology has often had an international character, actions under FP7 seek to further reinforce this aspect and reap the benefits of increased collaboration and exchange.
- Leading polar scientists came together in March for an EU symposium. - 26/03/2007
The European Commission celebrated the launch of the International Polar Year (IPY) with a symposium on the Polar Environment and Climate in early March 2007, organised by DG Research. The symposium brought together around 160 participants from 21 countries. The Commission was able to highlight its contributions to polar research, while the event proved a useful forum for exchanging ideas between leading specialists in the field.
- The International Polar Year: of ice and men - 26/02/2007
We’ve come a long way since the first International Polar Year (IPY) of 1882-83. The frostbitten explorers who harpooned themselves a bite to eat have made way for well-prepared researchers in polyester fleece jackets. Polar temperatures are no longer as far below zero as those experienced by 19th century explorers. International Polar Years in the 1880’s, the 1930’s and the 1950’s have helped to assess the state of the Polar Regions over time and provide a snapshot of the Polar Region conditions at a particular point in history. In 2007-2008, the fourth International Polar Year will further increase our understanding of polar systems, and their impact on the global climate system.
- Sustainable decision-making for urban water systems - 16/03/2006
Good-quality water and sanitation systems are essential to Europe’s town and cities, helping to ensure the health of the population. But these systems are huge, complex and costly to revamp. Nowadays, municipalities charged with overhauling often very old water and sanitation systems have to make very difficult decisions that must take account of economic, social, legislative and financial issues. An EU-backed project called Watertime has produced web-based tools and a good practice guide to help local authorities and other stakeholders make sustainable decisions about the future of their water and sanitation systems.
- EU’s support for biodiversity continues in next Framework Programme - 02/03/2006
Understanding biodiversity is among the most challenging intellectual and scientific puzzles facing mankind today. Nearly every economic sector around the planet has an impact on biodiversity or its conservation status. This is why the EU funds research in this domain and will continue to do so with the launch in 2007 of the EU’s next Seventh Framework Research Programme (FP7).
- Researchers feed ideas to EU for future Climate Change research priorities - 02/03/2006
The Earth is warming because of man-induced climate change (CC), but how – and how to react? Should the international community inject light-reflecting sulfur gas into the atmosphere to cool things down? Or commercially remove carbon dioxide from it? Is the ocean’s rising acidification undermining our food chain? What are the sociological implications for tomorrow’s sustainable cities? And how to better predict extreme CC-related hazards such as floods, drought or super-storms? These and many other research ideas were vigorously debated at the recent two-day International Symposium on Climate Change in Brussels.
- Exploring the value of sustainable agriculture - 02/03/2006
Conventional agricultural practices still dominates European farming. However, worries persist about its long-term impact on the environment. Unsustainable use of natural resources, problems caused by soil erosion, water pollutions and use of pesticides are among the issues that are of particular concern. Now an EU-funded project is drawing together knowledge into ‘alternative’ agriculture in a bid to help policy-makers understand and promote more sustainable farming systems. KASSA – knowledge assessment and sharing on sustainable farming – has drawn together approaches and experiences from across the world. The project’s concluding conference took place in Brussels between February 20th-21st 2006.
- Protecting heritage in a changing climate - 02/03/2006
Climate change is high on the international agenda. Governments are concerned about its impacts on people and landscapes. But so far, few have considered the effects of altered weather on important buildings and monuments. A project called NOAH’S ARK is studying how climate change might affect European cultural heritage. The project is mapping areas where built heritage and cultural landscapes are at greater risk of future damage, for example due to rainfall changes or extreme climatic events. It will offer advice on how to protect different types of monument against these new threats.
- Air pollution policy promotes cultural heritage preservation - 28/02/2006
A complex matrix of research efforts is being supported by the European Commission and other international players to investigate the effects of pollution on Europe’s diverse stock of cultural artefacts and structures. But how can this vast amount of data be tied together, much of it based on highly localised conditions? More important, how can it be fed into national and EU policy-making to achieve better air quality control regulations? The Commission-funded project, CULT-STRAT, aims to find the answers.
- MULTI-ASSESS maps pollution risk to EU monuments - 28/02/2006
Air- and rain-borne pollution attacks all man-made objects, but Europe’s historic structures, such as churches and statues, are particularly vulnerable due to fragile building materials that are often located in busy urban settings. Devising tools to assess today’s complex mix of pollutants and their effects were the goals of MULTI-ASSESS, whose results will help cultural specialists to determine risks and find the balance between the costs and benefits of preservation.
- Broadening approaches to urban regeneration - 28/02/2006
Many European cities have areas where economic, social and environmental problems cause hardship for local communities. Unfortunately, these so-called large urban distressed areas are not easy to rehabilitate. Politicians and planners are often under pressure to make changes to improve local quality of life, although they may lack the know-how to produce effective, long-lasting sustainable redevelopment strategies. The EU-funded LUDA (Large Urban Distressed Areas) project aims to develop new tools, methods and approaches that will help decision-makers produce effective plans for urban rehabilitation.
- Hydrogen-powered buses in action - 28/02/2006
Three hydrogen-powered buses have been carrying passengers on the streets of Reykjavik for more than two years as part of a European demonstration project called ECTOS. The buses use a public hydrogen fuelling station, located in a petrol station forecourt. The project studied the technical feasibility of using hydrogen as a transport fuel in a real-life situation. It also tested the response of the Icelandic public, which was overwhelmingly positive.
- Assessing the impacts of sprawling urban economies - 28/02/2006
Urban sprawl is recognised as a major challenge to quality of life in European cities. As development spreads outwards, traffic increases, and the environment can be degraded. In some countries, there are determined efforts to contain urban sprawl. The SELMA project has examined how outward diffusion of business and commercial developments in 14 European cities affects quality of life. The project has developed a simulation model for managing urban development in three major cities, and will provide policy guidance for others.
- A sustainable future for Europe’s industrial parks - 28/02/2006
When successfully run, Europe’s industrial and technology parks play a key role in the urban economy, providing vital employment and a place for enterprise and innovation to flourish. Unfortunately, they can also be dreary, unfriendly places that suffer from problems such as poor environmental management, traffic congestion and pollution. These issues have a negative effect on people who work in industrial parks and live nearby. An EU-funded research project called ECOPADEV aims to give such areas a sustainable future by providing town planners with the tools they need to develop more eco-friendly industrial parks.
- Nanning conference launches EU-China dialogue on urban development - 14/02/2006
China builds more residential and office space in a year than Europe does in a decade. The huge risks linked to the PRC’s prodigious rate of urbanisation – with more than 10 million people flooding into the country’s cities every year – demands a disciplined urban development to sustain quality of life while respecting the environment. Bringing together ‘urban science’ with urban planners in China and elsewhere was the goal of the recent EU-sponsored conference in this southern Chinese city.
- EU moves to minimise the risks of widespread flooding in Europe - 26/01/2006
The growing frequency and scale of floods due to climate change and the increasing number of people and property located in flood-prone areas means a higher flood risk in Europe. Often the wide-ranging scope of catastrophic flooding across river basins and coastal regions demands a cross-border approach to the problem. The Commission’s new draft directive to fight floods responds to this challenge.
- New EU project will expand Europe’s biodiversity research area - 26/01/2006
During the last four years the European Commission has successfully supported the creation of an EU-wide network of national, European and international players engaged in biodiversity research. With the upcoming launch of a specific support action funded by the FP6 priority, “Global Change and Ecosystems”, this effort will be expanded and strengthened.
- New flash alert service on environmental R&D keeps policymakers informed - 20/01/2006
From marine biodiversity to air pollution levels in cities, public policy must increasingly reflect the results of environmental science. But where can policymakers and the general public turn for reliable and updated information? DG-Environment has responded to this need with its recently-launched environmental news alert service.
- Project RAISEes new dialogue between EU urban research and citizens - 13/12/2005
More than four-fifths of Europe’s population resides in cities, which are a huge focus of EU-funded research projects to improve the quality of urban environment, preserve our cultural and architectural heritage and promote sustainable ways of organising society and the economy. But are these projects on the right track from the city-dweller’s point of view? To find out, the Commission earlier this year launched a ‘project of projects’ known as RAISE to canvass the opinion of citizens from across the continent. The results are just in – and they convey some surprising messages to European policymakers…
- Perth Declaration calls for expanded research on mountain biospheres - 14/11/2005
Mountains and mountain societies provide a wide range of goods and services to humanity, but are particularly sensitive to the effects of global environmental change. Maintaining multiple functions of mountain regions in a time of strongly changing climatic, economic and societal drivers is a significant challenge. Solutions require “trans- and interdisciplinary” research that includes natural and social scientists, and biosphere managers and other stakeholders. This was confirmed by the EU project, GLOCHAMORE, which ended with the Open Science Conference in Perth that attracted more than 250 participants from across the globe.
- Managing the risks of flooding in Europe - 02/11/2005
Centuries of dam building and urbanisation of flood plains combined with global warming are taking their toll on Europe’s landscape. Severe flooding now hits the region almost every year. But the EU also leads the world in flood research, from multi-sensor weather modelling to real-time alert warning systems to non-invasive inspection of 200-year old levees. How to shift from absolute flood prevention – an impossible task – to optimal management of risk is today’s challenge, as discussed at a recent Commission workshop of flood experts.
- Sustainable urban waste management - 20/10/2005
Waste in its broadest sense includes greenhouse gases and other environmental emissions, as well as domestic, commercial and industrial refuse. It all has a big effect on the sustainability or otherwise of Europe’s cities. The six projects in the European Waste Management Cluster studied many of the issues surrounding municipal waste, from measuring it to taxing it, with the aim of giving practical backing to the EU’s policy of reducing and recycling waste. Modelling tools and handbooks developed by the projects, with the associated workshops and conferences, have been of real help to European cities trying to get to grips with their waste mountains.
- Helping public authorities provide environmental relief - 20/10/2005
Europe’s public authorities have considerable buying power, representing some 15% of GNP (gross national product). ‘Green’ public procurement therefore has significant potential for promoting sustainable development and environment-friendly production. The RELIEF project has made a major step towards quantifying the environmental impact of switching to eco-friendly products and services and establishing clear and easy-to-follow guidelines.
- Europe’s countryside – more than a food conveyor belt - 20/10/2005
As human populations mushroomed and advanced production technology entered the farming sector, the view of agriculture as some sort of ‘food factory’ came to the fore. However, with increasing concerns over the environment and sustainability, the holistic concept of ‘multifunctionality’ emerged to try to strike a sustainable balance – economically, socially and environmentally – between the various uses of agricultural land. The EU-backed MultAgri project’s task was to find out how this could be done.
- A sustainable approach to brownfield blight - 20/10/2005
Europe’s former industrial landscapes are all too often left as polluted eyesores, while new buildings spring up elsewhere. Problems associated with brownfield land include high costs for cleaning up polluted soil, and sometimes lack of consensus on what to do with the site once it has been restored. Yet brownfield land is an essential urban resource that we cannot afford to ignore. The RESCUE project argued that an inclusive approach can help brownfield regeneration projects to be sustainable, by meeting the needs of a spectrum of people from local residents to developers and city planners. Having studied regeneration projects in former coalfields across four European countries, the project partners developed a manual of best practice and a tool for measuring the sustainability of brownfield regeneration projects, backed up by an on-line learning system. The aim is to make such projects both more successful and cheaper, and thus more widely taken up.
- Solid ground for EU-backed research into landslides - 19/09/2005
Landslides and snow and rock avalanches make for spectacular images but they are among the deadliest natural threats to humans and wildlife. Difficult to predict, they move at high speeds, consuming all before them. Their knock-on effects are a real risk, too, such as avalanche-induced waves that sweep across lakes and fjords. Monitoring the conditions that trigger these ‘extremely rapid mass movements’ is the focus of two upcoming EU projects which aim to create harmonised prediction-and-reaction planning on a European scale.
- European research tackles Arctic climate change - 12/09/2005
The North Pole is warming up faster than the rest of the world, with potentially devastating consequences for humanity. Sea-ice cover across the region has already decreased 10% during the past 30 years, lowering the salinity of Arctic waters and risking a change in the Gulf Stream’s ability to convect warm water to Northern Europe whose mild winters are a direct result of this massive transatlantic ‘conveyor belt’. Two new projects funded by the EU’s Sixth Framework Research Programme (FP6) are tackling these issues in a big way.
- Prague Declaration gathers steam to focus endocrine disrupter research - 26/07/2005
Prominent scientists have signalled their concerns about the risks to human and wildlife health posed by chemicals in everyday use which interfere with the hormone system, known as endocrine disrupters. The harmful effects of these substances on development in humans and wildlife are extremely complex and demand long-term scientific study and a close coordination of international research in order to achieve results to properly inform public policy. These are the broad goals of efforts such as the EU-sponsored CREDO cluster research projects and the new Prague Declaration, a manifesto whose support is spreading internationally across the field of endocrine disrupter (ED) research.
- Commission’s Fourth call for proposals: FP6 - EU builds on research into global change and eco-systems - 20/07/2005
Research into society’s impact on the environment, biodiversity and human health – and new technologies to address climate change – is reinforced in the European Commission’s latest call for global change proposals within the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Better ways to assess the forthcoming proposals should help get funding more quickly to selected project participants and boost the chances that most, if not all, of the call’s research goals are embraced by the scientific and industrial communities of Europe and its international partners.
- Integrative models for sustainable development - 05/07/2005
Time-Geography considers humans as creative agents, operating within the constraints of a continuous space-time. The TiGrESS (Time-Geographic approaches to Emerging and Sustainable Societies) has developed new ways to use empirical and simulation data that integrate information over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Case studies are advancing our understanding of the dynamic links between knowledge, action and environment. This provides insights that support sustainable development policy.
- Demonstrating the benefits of sustainable housing - 05/07/2005
A number of obstacles are limiting the amount of sustainable housing that is being constructed in Europe. The SHE (Sustainable Housing in Europe) project is showing the way forward, through a series of pilot housing schemes in Italy, Portugal, Denmark and France. These are demonstrating the feasibility of sustainable housing for all social groups by involving every stakeholder, especially end-users. The project consortium is highlighting the wider benefits of sustainable housing, evaluating and developing new methodologies and technologies, and drawing up a set of best-practice guidelines.
- Structured information for sustainable urban development - 05/07/2005
There is a wealth of data on sustainable urban development in Europe, but locating the best available information has often proved difficult. The SUD-LAB project has changed that by establishing methods for the collection and organisation of information in this sector and making it accessible via a powerful web-based tool. The SUD-LAB web portal enables users to query structured information in a variety of ways, at city and national levels. Rapid comparisons of sustainable development indicators between cities, for example, can now be readily accessed for the first time.
- Non-invasive evaluation of contaminated land - 05/07/2005
Derelict and polluted sites present a crucial challenge for sustainable development. There is an urgent need for reliable non-invasive techniques to evaluate brownfields and contaminated sites, to reduce the financial costs and risks involved in their rehabilitation. The HYGEIA (HYbrid Geophysical technology for the Evaluation of Insidious contaminated Areas) project addresses this problem by developing non-intrusive technology for the subsurface characterisation of contaminated land, based on an integrated approach.
- New structural tests for old buildings - 05/07/2005
Architecture is part of Europe’s cultural heritage, yet many old buildings - and some new ones - are in a poor state of repair. The ONSITEFORMASONRY project brought together a portfolio of different techniques for studying the structural condition of masonry, and showed that combining the results of several complementary methods can yield much more information than individual techniques used alone. The consortium developed four new items of survey equipment, improved mutual understanding between surveyors and building owners, and drew up guidelines for best practice in non-destructive testing.
- Moving ahead with PRT - 05/07/2005
Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is public transport with a difference: you do not have to wait, you have a vehicle for personal use, and you travel straight to your destination. PRT systems are convenient, energy-efficient and cheap to run but, despite their long history of development, to date no European city has been bold enough to commission one. The EDICT project has reinforced the case for PRT by collecting detailed data on passengers’ opinions, energy savings and mobility improvements in five cities. Political issues are the only remaining barrier, the study concludes.
- Innovative tools for dealing with complexity in environmental decision-making - 05/07/2005
Environmental considerations have become an integral part of policy-making for governments and local authorities. However, environmental factors are complex, they are many and they have many interactions, leading to an array of decision-support tools. By consolidating the best parts of these tools, the SusTools project developed an integrated methodology to help decision-makers apply a practical approach to complex issues, such as waste management and the use of fertilisers.
- FP6 Environmental Technologies Info Days - 22/06/2005
Commission Info-days in July focus on water quality, chemical-testing.
On 19 July the European Commission will formally launch its call for proposals for eco-system and climate change technology projects as part of the EU’s Sixth Framework Research Programme.
- Researching to Safeguard the Environment - 14/06/2005
The scientific evidence is mounting that mankind is seriously altering the Earth’s climate, with potentially devastating consequences if consumers, businesses and governments do not modify how they interact with the environment. Changes are needed across the entire spectrum of human activity. Among the first challenges is to effectively communicate the threats and risks of climate change to the public – and ways to reverse the symptoms – as debated vigorously at the European Commission’s Green Week event in Brussels 30 May-3 June.
- GEO elects new leadership in Geneva - 18/05/2005
Government representatives from over 40 countries, 40 international and intergovernmental organisations and the European Commission met at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Geneva, Switzerland, on 3 and 4 May 2005, for the first plenary of the new Group on Earth Observations (GEO). On the agenda were the size, structure and composition of the GEO Executive committee and the selection of GEO co-chairs.
- City of tomorrow and cultural heritage – an overview - 18/04/2005
Most of the projects funded under ‘Key action 4: City of tomorrow and cultural heritage’ of the EU’s Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development have now been completed, with the last ones due to be finalised by the end of 2005. Overall, the results have been extremely positive and demonstrate the considerable potential of R&D to support sustainable development policies in the urban environment.
- Cleaning up Europe’s cultural and historic landmarks - 18/04/2005
Take a walk in any big European city and what do you see? If you look closely you’ll discover cultural landmarks, elaborate architecture and impressive historic monuments – that is if you can see through the layers of dust and dirt. The EU-funded CARAMEL project is studying the ugly patinas that coat our buildings, finding out how they form and how to stop them. This important work has been funded under the EC’s 5th Framework Programme for Research – Key Action: 'City of Tomorrow and Cultural Heritage'.
- Blending government and governance in sustainable towns - 18/04/2005
The EU-backed DISCUS project sought to find ways of boosting the capacity of local authorities to blend ‘government’ and ‘governance’ to manage urban areas sustainably. After conducting a thorough investigation in 40 European cities, the three-year project’s findings led to the formulation of the groundbreaking Fano guidelines for urban sustainability policies.
- Curbing the consumer society – the role of environmental labelling - 18/04/2005
We know that the present levels of production and consumption in modern societies are unsustainable. If we are to seriously address this problem we will need to look at ways of improving the environmental performance of a broad range of products and services - throughout their life cycle. The DEEP project has examined the role of environmental product information schemes (EPIS) in supporting the development of the market for greener products within the context of an integrated product policy (IPP).
- Making land work for sustainable development - 18/04/2005
In comparison to the United States of America, the European continent is very densely populated and there are many, and sometimes conflicting, demands being placed on the land available to us – across the European Union. Two recently launched, large-scale integrated projects will attempt to develop effective new analytical tools for the management of sustainable land use and the impact of policies introduced at the European level.
- Integrating land use and transport policies for cleaner cities - 18/04/2005
Increasing traffic congestion – with its adverse effects on quality of life in Europe’s cities and regions – presents a major challenge for policy-makers. Spatial separation of human activities creates the need for travel and the transport of goods. But transport also makes places more accessible and, thus, more or less attractive for the location of businesses, shops, leisure activities or residential housing. The TRANSPLUS project suggests that the best way forward is through better integration of land use and transport policies.
- CLEARing the air over Europe’s cities - 18/04/2005
When we worry about water quality, we can at least buy it in bottle form. Not so for air. Finding new ways to manage, monitor and mitigate the effects of poor quality air is vital. A group of European projects, assembled under the Cluster of European Air Quality Research (CLEAR), set about to improve scientific understanding of urban air pollution and to provide tools to manage air quality in cities.
- Citizens confer on the ‘City of Tomorrow’ - 18/04/2005
The general public plays a key role in ensuring the success of new approaches to sustainability in urban environments. However, they are rarely consulted on the practicality or acceptability of the various solutions being proposed to revitalise and improve the quality of city living. The RAISE project is setting out to change all that – at least with regard to a certain number of selected urban sustainability projects financed under the EU’s Research Framework Programme. If successful, their ‘Citizen’s Conference’ could provide the impetus for a new type of citizen participation.
- Checking up on climate change - 13/04/2005
The third Japan-European Union Workshop on Climate Change Research was held at the Yokohama Institute for Earth Sciences, Japan, in January 2005. Organised under the framework of the Japan-EU Science and Technology Forum, the workshop’s objective was to further promote closer links and collaboration in the field of climate change research.
- Global partners sign up to implementation plan - 03/03/2005
On 16 February, over 50 countries and 40 international and scientific organisations signed up to create the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, at a summit hosted by the European Commission in Brussels. This boost to co-operation amongst all providers and users of earth observation data will speed up and facilitate a huge range of research work in the environmental field.
- Downtown issues in FP7 - 10/02/2005
Urban areas are focal points for society’s strengths and weaknesses. On one hand they are powerhouses for economic growth, while on the other hand they can be hotspots for social unrest and environmental concerns. And cities and towns are not static, they are cauldrons of change that we must understand if we are to build on their strengths while mitigating their weaknesses. The Super cluster of urban research projects is identifying the research challenges that cities and their planners face.
- Sharing experience in changing housing - 10/02/2005
An ageing housing stock and a shifting population create environmental problems at home. City planners perpetually struggle with how to address the problems that occur in the large post-war housing estates of Europe. The Restate project is a Europe-wide consortium of housing research groups whose members are collecting shared experiences and common approaches across the spectrum of problems encountered. Coordinated from the University of Utrecht, many of the project outcomes are already in print, and a handbook is expected at the end of 2005.
- Strategies for greener milk - 10/02/2005
Farms and farmyards do not come quickly to mind as sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change. Rather the opposite – we think of the green open spaces of the countryside as needing protection from the air pollutants that originate in cities, industrial areas and on motorways. But this bucolic vision is deceptive. On top of issues such as chemical fertilisers, genetically modified crops and intensive animal husbandry, farms are an important source of methane and nitrous oxide – dairy farms in particular. The Midair project seeks to understand and propose options to mitigate these GHG sources.
- Counting economic costs to the environment - 10/02/2005
The Greensense project measures the welfare benefits of meeting environmental sustainability standards and identifies the economic costs of meeting such standards in three EU countries. Now completed, it was the first attempt at combining economic welfare and sustainability limits in environmental accounting at national level. In identifying the economic and environmental impacts, the project conclusions show that more informative welfare and sustainability measures associated with the environment can be offered alongside more traditional economic measures, such as GNP, to better guide policy.
- Commission and UN-HABITAT team up for sustainable cities - 10/02/2005
Lives lived out wholly in the slums of the world are the focus of the uphill struggle to bring urban living up to basic standards and reduce poverty worldwide. The European Commission and UN-HABITAT are collaborating to share research results and disseminate new solutions to cities globally in the cause of poverty reduction and sustainable development. A new joint publication, Creating a World of Sustainable Cities, highlights the importance of research and development.
- Sustainable domestic services bring quality-of-life bonus - 10/02/2005
Substituting product-based consumption with services delivered to the home could promote eco-efficiency, while also providing significant cost savings and an enhanced quality of life for citizens. The partners in the EU-supported Sustainable Homeservices project conducted an in-depth analysis of the actual and potential status of service provision in six countries. The results point to a number of measures that could be taken to align services with the demographic, cultural and economic realities of Europe’s future.
- Greening the city - 10/02/2005
The role of parks and green open spaces in urban areas is often underestimated, while the potential of these areas to improve both the quality of life of city dwellers and urban sustainability is not always being fully realised. Five EU- funded research projects address, from different angles, the function of green space in the urban environment and ways of better integrating the management and planning of these areas into the process of urban development.
- SWIFT methods for monitoring water quality - 03/02/2005
The SWIFT-WFD project will be holding a public workshop on existing methods for monitoring water quality in the European Union and their role in implementing the EU’s Water Framework Directive. The workshop, open to scientists, policy-makers and end users, will be held in Brussels, Belgium, on 7-8 March 2005.
- A blue Danube for a Black Sea - 02/12/2004
The daNUbs project is hosting an international conference on nutrient management in the Danube River and its impacts on the Black Sea. The project partners will present the final results of their work at a conference to be held at the Vienna University of Technology on 16 December 2004.
- Widening the horizons for climate research results - 22/11/2004
Global climate change is one of the key concerns of the 21st century, with serious implications for economies, societies and the environment. Understanding and accessing the results of research being carried out in this field is essential if we are to maximise its impact and more accurately define research needs for the future. By creating a database of climate change related research projects funded by the European Union under its Framework Programmes for Research and Development, the ProPaCC project has created a valuable tool for both researchers and policy-makers.
- The sweet smell of success - 22/11/2004
Europe has more than 1.5 million restaurants and food outlets serving countless meals a day. All of them have extraction systems that take emissions out of their kitchens before venting them into the air outside. Unfortunately this can cause a build-up of unpleasant odours, particularly in urban areas. What is more, cooker-hood extraction systems become clogged up with grease and dust which make them a fire hazard. The NOZONE project offers a solution to both problems through the use intelligent technology that harnesses ozone and ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy odours and particulates.
- Drive to solve car problems - 22/11/2004
There are too many cars in European cities, which is causing both pollution and congestion. Space is at a premium and replacing the private car would free up more of it, making our major conurbations more pleasant places to live in. Improved public transport schemes are an important solution to the problem, but there are times when only a car will do. By establishing car-sharing schemes that are accessible, cost-effective and fully integrated with the local public transport network, the MOSES project offers city dwellers a real incentive to give up their cars.
- Shedding light on cultural heritage - 22/11/2004
Objects of importance to Europe’s cultural heritage – such as old photographs, documents and tapestries – need careful looking after, while remaining accessible to scholars and the public. Museums and galleries must monitor and assess the exposure conditions these delicate artefacts face when being exhibited, otherwise they could fade and suffer irreparable damage. The European Commission-funded LiDo project has devised an easy-to-use product for conservators and other cultural heritage professionals that can show them the environmental impact of light on an object over a period of time.
- Building sustainability into Europe’s construction industry - 22/11/2004
Introducing sustainable development into Europe’s construction industry is a considerable challenge, but success could bring quality-of-life dividends to those who live in towns and cities. Many issues have to be taken into account, from the use of ecologically sound building materials to assessing the environmental impact of urban development strategies. To encourage the take-up of sustainable practices in the construction industry, the CRISP project has devised a database of sustainability indicators that can be used by planners, building firms and developers.
- Sustainable urban management and land use: a gateway to the city of tomorrow - 22/11/2004
European cities are great hives of human activity. They are home to tens of millions of European citizens, and massive motors of the economy. They are also storehouses of knowledge and repositories of cultural and architectural heritage. A recent conference in the charming city of Prague (CZ) highlighted the progress made by EU-backed research aimed at creating the sustainable European city of tomorrow, in which economic growth and urban regeneration go hand in hand with improving quality of life, promoting effective land use, and the protection of the environment.
- EU policy-making - counting the hidden costs - 16/08/2004
‘Externalities’ are the costs of an activity that are not included in its price - such as the impacts of greenhouse gases emitted during a car journey. These are nevertheless real costs that must be paid eventually, usually by society as a whole. Governments are increasingly taking these costs into account when making policy - but there is a lack of information about them. The RED project consolidated worldwide research data in a central database containing the external costs of activities across many sectors, including transport and energy. The online RED database is now available to policy-makers everywhere.
- Software helps to identify sustainable urban policies - 16/08/2004
Without radical and integrated transport and land use policies, the quality of life in European cities is set to decline significantly over the next few decades. Computer models and analytical tools developed by the PROPOLIS project reveal that a sustainable future is possible only if city authorities introduce comprehensive packages of measures that address car use, public transport, and land use together.
- Efficient assessment of contaminated sites - 16/08/2004
Contamination on old industrial sites is a headache for local authorities and developers alike. Regeneration of such sites improves the urban environment and helps to reduce sprawl, and is therefore a key element of urban sustainable development. But assessing the extent of the pollution is costly and unpredictable, so sites are often left disused. The NORISC project has developed a software package that employs a new, integrated approach. It makes the process faster and cheaper by devising an optimum combination of methods for surveying a site.
- Measuring local sustainable development - 16/08/2004
Over 2 000 European local authorities have signed the 1994 Aalborg Charter - committing themselves to implementing sustainable development practices in their communities. Since Aalborg, much has been achieved in local sustainability initiatives, but a lack of networking tools has often left local authorities to work in relative isolation, without benchmarks to compare progress. The new ‘Local Evaluation 21’ tool uses an on-line, multilingual database that allows local authorities to evaluate sustainable development processes in their own communities and to compare their own performances with other local authorities across Europe.
- A place for ecological parks in European sustainability research - 16/08/2004
Eco-centres certainly attract tourists and provide local employment, but are rarely thought of as part of mainstream science. The Ecolink project suggests that this attitude should change. Not only do Europe’s network of ecosites provide an excellent model of local sustainable development, they also have the capacity to conduct research and implement innovative environmental technologies. In partnership with other scientific institutions, they could make an important contribution to Europe’s sustainability agenda.
- Keeping historic cities alive - 16/08/2004
It is vital, but not always easy, to preserve the historic culture of European cities. City authorities must maintain important buildings, landscapes, and contemporary as well as historic culture in the context of ongoing economic development. This is a difficult balancing act which often generates conflict. The SUIT project has produced a set of guidelines to help local authorities make more effective use of Environmental Impact Assessment procedures. Already an established part of European law, these offer a means to assess the effects of programmes, policies or projects on urban heritage values.