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Preliminary data have been released on the 2008 Environment call for proposals for FP7 (FP7-ENV-2008-1), which was published in November last year and closed in February. Of the 425 submitted proposals, 402 were assessed as being eligible (97%), totalling a requested EC grant of €1 145 million.

In focus

Expo Zaragoza 2008: water and sustainable development
For three months from 14 June to 14 September 2008, the city of Zaragoza will play host to an International Expo with the theme of Water and sustainable development. Looking at the challenges facing water and sustainable development on all levels: global, regional, local and individual, the Expo will explore the themes of water – as a unique resource, water for life, waterscapes, and shared water.

Observing our planet – GEO and GEOSS
The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) was established in 2005 as a response to the 2002 Johannesburg Summit on sustainable development and the subsequent G8 Summit in Evian (France). GEO currently brings together 73 national governments plus the European Commission, along with 52 intergovernmental, international and regional organisations who address Earth observation issues. Together they are creating the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to provide comprehensive environmental data, analyses and information.

Bridging the Gap: responding to changes in the environment – from words to action
For 10 years, the Bridging the Gap conferences have been bringing attention to gaps in the chain from science to policy and from knowledge to action. Bridging the Gap aims to do exactly that – give the information and insight that is necessary to close these gaps. In London the 1998 conference focused on gaps in reporting on the environment, gaps in research within sectors was the focus of the 2001 conference in Stockholm, meanwhile Dublin in 2004 discussed the gaps in communication.

Portal to sustainability
Does the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) live up to the R&D needs expressed by the renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS)? The contribution of EU research to sustainable development is the focus of the recently published web portal Research for Sustainable Development. The web portal acts as a continuously evolving gateway to consolidated information on sustainable development research activities in the EU, its Member States and beyond, showing how EU-supported research meets the expectations of the EU SDS.

EU project highlights

Descartes Research Prize
At a ceremony held at the European Commission in Brussels in early March, the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) was awarded the Descartes prize for transnational collaborative research by the Directorate-General for Research. The prize honours transnational research teams that have achieved outstanding scientific results through collaborative work. EPICA shares the €1.36 million prize with two other  projects.

Science meets policy

Council meeting advances EU sustainability policy
The environment was the centrepiece of the Council meeting on 3 March 2008. The Council adopted conclusions focusing on climate change and energy, halting biodiversity loss, environmental technologies, and sustainable consumption and production. The conclusions were submitted to the spring European Council. The Council also held policy debates on the Climate Action and Renewable Energy (CARE) package, and on a proposal aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from cars. Finally, the Council adopted conclusions on biodiversity and biosafety in preparation for upcoming international conferences.

Roadmap to a White Paper on adaptation to climate change
Climate change is happening; it is a fact that can no longer be ignored. Europe needs to take measures to address global warming and try to prevent possibly catastrophic changes to the climate. The EU is taking steps to lessen Europe’s impact on the changing climate and reduce its ecological footprint. Step one in this process was the adoption of a Green Paper on adaptation to climate change. With input from the public, the EU hopes to draft a White Paper and have a concrete policy for climate change adaptation as soon as possible.

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