| Newsletter EU Research for the Environment


On 3 September 2008 the Work Programme 2009 was published with 49 research topics under the Environment theme. For the third time during FP7, DG Research launched a major call for researchers from all Europe, associated countries and third countries to submit original research projects in areas such as climate change, environment and health, biodiversity, environmental technologies and earth observation, among others. A budget of €193.5 million has been allocated for this call, which is open until 8 January 2009. I hope that participation and quality of proposals will be high and wish the best success to all applicants.

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In focus

European Water Research Day – making a splash

EU-funded water research activities past, present and future were the main focus of the European Water Research Day on 8 September 2008 at the Expo Zaragoza 2008 in Spain. The event, organised by the European Commission Directorate-General for Research, was attended by more than 200 delegates. Participants included Marcelino Iglesias, President of the Regional Government of Aragon, Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research, and Cristina Garmendia, the Spanish Minister of Science and Innovation.

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European water research: past experience, future challenges

The EU has been supporting water-related research through its research framework programmes (FPs) for more than two decades. The research has expanded in terms of both budget and scope since the first FP was launched in 1984. The many projects funded in this time by the EU have generated a wealth of experience when it comes to promoting the sustainable use of water resources and developing water-related technologies. This experience also helps inform our understanding of how to tackle future water challenges: as was the European Commission’s message at the European Water Research Day on 8 September 2008 at the Expo Zaragoza 2008 in Spain, flexible and integrated water management is needed to deal with issues like climate change.

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Water desalination research: worth its salt

Cheap and easily available supplies of water for drinking and sanitation can no longer be taken for granted, and as the world’s population increases, water resources are likely to come under increasing strain. Nor is this a problem that only affects developing countries, as episodes of persistent drought in parts of the developed world become more common. Hence the importance of desalination of seawater as one of the potential answers to the planet’s water shortage problems. EU research is helping to make this a more energy- and cost-efficient technology, as well as minimising its impact on the environment.

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Assessing Climatic change and impacts on the Quantity and quality of Water

A new FP7 project is preparing for its kick-off. The ACQWA project (Assessing climatic change and impact on the quantity and quality of water) will evaluate the impact that climate change is having on water originating in mountain regions. With a budget of around €6.5 million over five years and 37 partners, ACQWA will take advantage of advanced modelling techniques to best determine impacts of climate change on alpine water sources around the globe.

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EU project highlights

Research for better health: indoor air quality to EnVIE

Efforts to tackle air pollution have traditionally tended to focus on the quality of air outdoors and on measuring and controlling pollutants from industry and transport. EnVIE, a European Coordination Action on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Health Effects, aimed to increase our understanding of the Europe-wide public health impacts of indoor air quality, acting as an interface between science and policy-making in this area. The EU-funded project - starting in March 2004 and ending in October 2008 - was one of those carried out under the “impact of environmental issues on health” research priority of the EU’s Sixth Research Framework Programme. It set out to investigate typologies and levels of indoor air pollution in Europe and its effects on health.

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GEO workshop projects

In view of the 2009 call for proposals, the European Commission intends to strengthen its ongoing commitment to Group on Earth Observations (GEO) activities. The 2007 call covered all Societal Benefit Areas foreseen in the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan, whereas the 2008 call was launched with the objective of contributing to the Initial Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Common Infrastructure. The time has come to effectively integrate European activities into GEO.

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The urgency to enhance sustainable development in developing countries is at its peak. Land-use patterns and change in developing countries are considered critical to sustainable development. Therefore, it is essential to understand the linkages between land-use policy and sustainable development in the specific context of a range of developing countries, and policy options on biodiversity, climate and trade.

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Science meets policy

European strategy charts course for marine and maritime research

Taking an integrated approach to marine and maritime research will help boost our knowledge of the oceans and our ability to manage sea-related activities in a sustainable way. This is the thrust of the European Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research* adopted on September 3 2008 by the European Commission. The strategy aims to overcome fragmentation of research across different sectors and themes in this complex area by promoting integration of knowledge and by moving towards a concerted definition of marine and maritime research needs and priorities.

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‘Science for the Environment’ news alert service

Directorate-General Environment has extended the weekly news alerts on new scientific environmental findings to include thematic issues with topics chosen according to the environmental policy agenda.

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EU and Africa: a mutual concern for the environment

On 7 November 2008 a workshop organised by the FP6 project INTERLINK – with the support of the European Commission – will take place on Africa–Europe collaboration in the field of science and technology collaboration for the environment.

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Evaluating FP6 to improve European research

In September 2007 the European Commission started the process of the ex-post evaluation of FP6. This evaluation will look at issues of rationale, impacts and achievements and is hoped to make FP7 a better and more efficient research tool. In particular, the FP5 and FP6 sub-priority area of Global change and ecosystems is being given particular attention.

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Open access

In August 2008 the European Commission launched the open access pilot as part of FP7. The pilot will require grant recipients in seven research areas – energy, environment, health, parts of information and communication technologies, research infrastructures, science in society and social sciences and humanities – to deposit their research articles online and ensure open access to these articles within 6–12 months of publication.

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Sustainable development: conference and call for papers

The European Commission is gearing up for a major conference to be held 26–28 May 2009 on Sustainable development: a challenge for European research. A call for papers was published here. The Scientific Committee of the conference, chaired by Prof Carlo Jaeger of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, will review the submissions and select the papers that will be a part of the conference programme.

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Funding for researchers in Japan

The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) launched a call for proposals on 24 September 2008 for researchers in Japan involved in EU consortia – the first time a non-EU country is providing funding for researchers in EU consortia.

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For your agenda

10–14 November 2008, Ljubljana (SI) – Cultural Heritage Research Meets Practice

The goal of CHRESP – the 8th European conference on research for protection, conservation and enhancement of cultural heritage – is to foster the exploitation and spin-off of EU research results. Scientists, policy makers and end-users will work to identify future needs and development of funding strategies, while new technologies and tools will be presented, with special attention given to pooling of expertise of key players in cultural heritage. http://chresp.eu/

11–15 November 2008, Valencia (ES) – First World Conference on Marine Biodiversity

This conference will review the current understanding of marine biodiversity, its role in marine ecosystem functioning and its socio-economic context. In addition, threats and mitigation strategies for conservation and regulation of marine resources will be assessed, and research priorities identified. Initiated and organised by MARBEF – the Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning EU Network of Excellence – this conference is co-sponsored by various regional, national, European and international organisations. http://www.marbef.org/

19–20 November 2008, Bucharest (RO) – Group on Earth Observations Plenary V

This will be the fifth plenary session of the representatives of the countries and organisations which have joined the international initiative on earth observations. Following the adoption of the Cape Town declaration, endorsed at the last Ministerial Summit, the Ministers expressed their commitment to provide further formal guidance towards the successful implementation of GEOSS. The highlights of the plenary will encompass the last achievements of the common infrastructure which allows the user of Earth observations to access, search and use the data, information, tools and services available through GEOSS. A continued emphasis will be granted on capacity development as a key issue in the implementation of all aspects of GEOSS. http://earthobservations.org/

1–12 December 2008, Poznań (PL) – Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention

Held in conjunction with the 4th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol, COP 14 will provide the opportunity to draw together the advances made in 2008 and move from the discursive to the negotiating mode in 2009. With environmental NGOs, together with politicians and goare due to take partthe Poznan conference will be the next major step to COP 15 in Copenhagen where a new global deal on tackling climate change is expected. http://unfccc.int/meetings/

25–30 January 2009, Nice (FR) – special session on Thresholds and Regime Shifts in Aquatic Ecosystems

The capacity to anticipate regime shifts, predict the thresholds and tipping points of the pressures conducive to these changes, and understanding the traits that render ecosystem components and processes prone to non-linear behaviour is a fundamental direction of research within aquatic sciences. As such, a special session on Thresholds and Regime Shifts in Aquatic Ecosystems will be held during the Aquatic Sciences ASLO (Advancing the Science of Limnology and Oceanography) Meeting. http://www.aslo.org/

New publications

EU research for the environment

Summarising EU-funded environmental research, this publication is divided into two parts: the first provides the context of environmental research, while the second gives an overview of the 10 research priorities within the Environment (including climate change) theme, and highlights some of the most successful projects in environmental research.

Marine Genomics MGE (FP6 NoE) publications

Edited by some partners of the FP6 Network of Excellence Marine Genomics Europe, this new scientific journal will publish papers on all structural, functional and evolutionary aspects of genes, chromatin, chromosomes and genomes of marine (and fresh water) organisms.

Water Research: FP7 catalogue

The publication presents a short overview of water research projects resulting from FP7 calls in 2007 and 2008 under the Environment (including climate change) theme. For each project, a brief abstract, partner and funding details, and duration is presented.

Nanotechnologies for water treatment: FP7 catalogue

The publication presents a short overview of projects relating to nanotechnologies for water treatment resulting from FP7 calls in 2007 and 2008 under the Environment (including climate change) and Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies themes. For each project, a brief abstract, partner and funding details, and duration is presented.

Environmental Technologies Research

This newsletter provides information about initiatives and RTD project results relating to the FP7 activity Environmental technologies under the Environment (including climate change) theme. The September 2008 issues looks at, among others, the call for proposals launched on 3 September, with a 8 January deadline for submission.