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.
The proposals for the first round of calls for environmental research in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) have been submitted, and the evaluation is now underway. With a tight timeframe and a large number of submissions, some of the first FP7 projects could be up and running by the end of the year.
One of the main novelties of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) was the ERA-NET scheme, which encourages coordination of national and regional research programmes. By the end of FP6, 71 projects had been accepted, around 20 per cent of them dealing with environmental topics.
Following the publication on 4th April 2007 of the Green Paper on the European Research Area (ERA), the European Commission is now launching a broad online consultation to find out the steps still needed to create a unified and attractive ERA. The consultation, is open to all interested parties, including the general public, and will remain open until 31 August 2007.
The extent to which we know about the marine environment around us is still a small amount of what is out there, and what we know is already at serious risk. Our knowledge about marine biodiversity at the European level is also hampered by fragmentation, which prevents our ability to improve both the protection and more sustainable exploitation of the marine resources.
National and EU policies for sectors such as agriculture, energy, transport and tourism can be a major driving force for land use change – sometimes with a dramatic impact on the well-being of citizens and on their environment. Sustainability needs to be ensured, but how can policy-makers predict the long-term implications of their decisions?
That Europe has a rich cultural heritage is a given, and this is perhaps most visibly illustrated through the many historical monuments that dot the continent. That these monuments are threatened by climate change is perhaps less obvious. Climate change research tends to focus on the environment, while building conservation specialists rarely look at future threats. But now this is changing, with the conclusion of the 3-year €1.2 million Noah’s Ark project, funded through the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
Coastal and river flooding is one of the most common natural disasters affecting Europe. In addition, global warming threatens to increase their frequency. The CRUE ERA-NET network aims to improve flood risk management through enhanced coordination between national programmes across Europe. The launch of a new information resource, called CRUISE, now gives users instant access to flood research programmes across Europe.
Fourth EU-Japan Workshop on Climate Change Research
The Fourth EU-Japan Workshop on Climate Change Research was held in Brussels in mid-March 2007 (the joint statement can be accessed here). New research programmes have been launched in both Europe (FP7) and Japan, providing an opportunity for both European and Japanese researchers to build on the successful cooperative activities of the past.
Vienna was the setting in June for the most important meeting on environment and health (E&H) in Europe since 2004. Organised by the World Health Organisation in Europe (WHO Europe), the event was a mid-term review of progress made on E&H issues, in preparation for the next meeting of European environment and health ministers in 2009. The focus was on children’s health, and how better to protect children from existing and emerging threats.
The EurOCEAN conference, held in Aberdeen on the 22 July 2007, brought together around 200 marine and maritime scientists, policymakers, NGOs and other stakeholders from 22 countries in the EU and further afield. The conference was a resounding success, resulting in a final declaration in response to the EU Green Paper on Maritime Policy. To read some of the presentations made, follow the link below:
To strengthen the links between science and policy, DG Environment of the European Commission has recently launched "Science for Environment Policy", a weekly service of easy to read news alerts on new scientific findings in the field of top priority environmental issues. Many of the EU research projects, from both FP5 and FP6, have their results presented in this news alert service. Addressed to policy-makers and the wider public, "Science for Environment Policy" is disseminated weekly by e-mail to over 5.000 subscribers and is completely free of charge.