| Newsletter EU Research for the Environment


Doing more with less

In a globalised world, it’s not only people who are interconnected. From climate change to global economics, public policy arenas are increasingly linked as well. Addressing these transnational challenges requires the EU to take action using a unified approach – particularly as it relates to sustainable development. True development can only come about through adopting policies that enable people to engage in economic activities that encourage environmental sustainability. This requires important investments in multidisciplinary, collaborative research.

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In focus

Cultural heritage meets practice

The eighth European Commission conference "Cultural heritage research meets practice" was held in Ljubljana (Slovenia) on 10–14 November 2008. The conference focused on research, education, knowledge transfer and the dissemination of results of European research for cultural heritage. Also included as part of the conference was an exhibition of 25 EC-funded cultural heritage projects.

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A word from the Commissioner…

EU Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik gave the keynote speech at the "Cultural heritage research meets practice" conference held in his home town of Ljubljana (Slovenia) on 10–14 November 2008. He underscored the importance of cultural heritage for the European economy as well as its contribution to the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, the knowledge-based economy and the European Research Area.

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Fostering built cultural heritage within the urban setting

Cultural tourism is important for local communities across Europe and given this sector’s expansion, in recent years, proper attention needs to be paid so that it may grow in a sustainable way. This requires that tourism policies bring social benefits, stimulate the local economy and enhance the environment.

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Understanding the impact of the indoor environment

Museums, galleries and archives across Europe are not immune to damage caused by pollution. Most institutions are aware of the problem; however they lack the technical ability and know-how to properly address it. The costs of properly counteracting pollution damage are high and only the most prestigious institutions have the budget to employ conservators or scientists with knowledge in the field. The EU, however, is supporting and has supported a variety of projects which are creating technologies which allow museum staff, architects and engineers to make the best decisions possible regarding pollution control for their organisations.

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EU project highlights

MOBI-KIDS: a follow-up study to the INTERPHONE study to be launched by the EU

MOBI-KIDS (Risk of brain cancer from exposure to radiofrequency fields in childhood and adolescence) is a five-year research project to be launched on 1 March 2009. It has 14 partners and the EU contribution is €3.5 million.

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NOAHS ARK: Global Climate Change Impact on Built Heritage and Cultural Landscapes

Climate change over the next 100 years will exhibit a range of direct and indirect effects on the natural and material environment, including historic buildings. Linking global changes to the response of material surfaces of archaeological and historic structures remains a challenge.

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EU project highlights: MGE and BASIN

Marine environment is an important part of European environmental research. The EU has supported numerous projects in this field and the research has yielded interesting results which have allowed researchers to better understand the ocean and its ecosystems as well at the interaction between the ocean and other Earth systems. Two such projects are Marine Genomics Europe (MGE) and BASIN which have both achieved interesting results about marine organisms and and contributed to improving our understanding of the marine ecosystems

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Science meets policy

Newly launched EC–Russia Working Group on Environmental Research

The EU and Russia are taking concrete steps to enhance an already significant science and technology (S&T) partnership. During last year’s Joint Committee meeting of the EC-Russia Cooperation Agreement, both parties agreed to create a bilateral working group to determine priority areas of mutual scientific cooperation.

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Research at COP 14

Poznan (Poland) was host to the 14th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 14) and the 4th Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol on 1–12 December 2008, drawing almost 11 000 participants, including government delegates and representatives from business and industry. The two-week meeting was a step in the negotiations on an international climate change deal to be clinched in Copenhagen in December 2009. DG Research organised five side events during the conference contributing to the programme in the EU Pavilion and followed other Parties side events related to climate science. A special leaflet was also produced for the participation of DG Research in COP 14. Focus here centres on two side events organised by DG Research on 4 and 5 December.

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FP6 environment research: assessing its impact

EU-funded environment research is leading in several environmental research areas and contributes to the development of tools for environmental policy. Economic and social potential impacts in all areas are genuine. These were the principal results of the Environment Impact Assessment of the FP6 sub-priority Sustainable development,Global change and ecosystems released on 15 December 2008.

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Networking our way to a research future

On 7–8 May 2009, scientists, researchers and industry will come to Prague, Czech Republic for the biggest research event of the year – the EU research connection conference. The goal is to bring attendees into contact with experienced researchers from successful European projects, giving them the opportunity to meet reliable partners for their projects.

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Sustainable development a challenge for European research

On 26–28 May 2009, Brussels (Belgium) will host the conference Sustainable development: a challenge for European research. Near the midpoint of FP7, this three-day conference will take stock of the progress made so far and identify how European research can contribute to sustainable development.

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Building the science-policy bridge in the water sector

An initiative was presented by the French Ministry of Ecology to the EU Water Directors under the French Presidency last year to develop a science-policy interface within the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) framework, which is linked to EU water policies, in particular the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Over the course of 2009, a preliminary activity will be carried out with voluntary countries, stakeholders, with an active participation of DG Research.

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For your agenda

16–22 March 2009, Istanbul (TR) – 5th World Water Forum

The World Water Forum is the main water-related event in the world, aimed at putting water firmly on the international agenda. The Forum offers the water community and policy-and-decision-makers from all over the world the unique opportunity to come together to create links, debate and attempts to find solutions to achieve water security.

It is organised every three year by the World Water Council, in collaboration with the host country. This year’s overarching theme will be Bridging divides for water. http://www.worldwaterforum5.org/

26–27 March 2009, Brussels (BE) – European Business Summit: eco-innovation: sustainable solutions?

With the sub-title of ‘Dare and care’, the 7th edition of the European Business Summit takes ‘greening’ as one of its core themes. The afternoon session on 26 March called Eco-innovation: sustainable solutions? will focus on this issue, with speeches from Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research, together with representatives from government and industry.

The Summit will comprise plenary sessions and workshops. Business leaders will discuss with high-level decision-makers, academics and NGOs from around the world on issues like the financial crisis, clean tech innovation, skills, climate change, energy and ageing. http://www.ebsummit.eu

31 March–1 April 2009, Berlin (DE) – Final MBR network workshop

Four European projects dedicated to the development of the membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology and gathering about 50 European and international partners have been working together as MBR Network cluster (www.mbr-network.eu). This workshop will present the results of two main projects of the MBR Network (Amedeus and Eurombra), which will finish in May.

The audience targeted will be mainly the European water industry and research community, including universities and research centres, but also as much as possible end-users and operators, equipment providers, consultants, regulators etc http://www.iwahq.org/templates

7–8 May 2009, Prague (CZ) – EU Research Connection

Targeted at scientists, researchers and industry, this conference will aim to bring attendees into contact with experienced researchers from successful European projects, giving them the opportunity to meet reliable partners for their projects.

Three major ongoing research initiatives – FP7, the Structural Funds and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme – will be presented. In addition, selected EU-funded projects will be exhibited. This will promote the networking and integration of research activities in Europe. http://ec.europa.eu/research/

26–28 May 2009, Brussels (BE) – Sustainable development: a challenge for European research

Coming close to mid-term of FP7 implementation, this three-day conference will take stock of the progress made so far and identify ways and means for putting the European research system at the service of sustainable development.

This conference – organised in cooperation with the Czech Presidency of the EU – will initiate a structured dialogue on how to reform European research to best respond to sustainable development challenges, many of which are of international scope. It will also investigate ways for improving the science-policy link and the relationship between science and society. http://ec.europa.eu/research/

New publications

Research on climate change

This publication presents an overview of FP6 research projects and priorities for the first calls under FP7 addressing key challenges in the areas of climate change impacts, vulnerability of carbon stocks on managed lands, natural hazards, mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change, and international cooperation in this field. It is the second brochure in a series of publications designed to provide information on European Commission research activities on climate change presented at COP-MOP/UNFCCC meetings.

Staff Working Document: Integrated climate change

The Commission adopted the Staff Working Document: Integrated climate change research following the release of the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the most recent developments, prepared by DG Research. The EC Staff Working document, which received very good comments from other DGs, was sent to the Council, European Parliament, the Social and Economic Committee and the Committee of the Regions. We believe it will help also the preparation of the Work Programme 2010.

Gender equality report – Framework Programme 6

Released in October 2008, this publication looks at progress that has been made towards the Commission’s aim of at least a 40% representation of women in Marie Curie scholarships, advisory groups, assessment panels and monitoring panels, in order to promote female participation in research. Data is presented, which was collected through IT applications used by the Commission and via DG Research officers. In addition, the report proposes some recommendations, focusing on the importance of reaching and possibly increasing the 40% target, together with the importance of ensuring systematic follow-up of data collection on women in Framework Programme research.