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Fifth Framework Programme - External Advisory Groups

Opinion of the External Advisory Group for the Key Action "Global Change, Climate and Biodiversity"

This report is also available as PDF-file: global1.pdf (43 Kb)

Final report

1. Introduction

An External Advisory Group has been set up for the above key action according to the Commission decision of 20 November 1998. The Commission has nominated fifteen external advisors. Their mandate is to advise the Commission on the content and orientation of the Key Action "Global Change, Climate and Biodiversity".
The Key Action is focusing on global problems that have a strong impact on European regions such as climate change, ozone depletion, biodiversity loss, loss of habitats and fertile land, disruptions to ocean circulation. The Key Action comprises four main research themes. The first two, aim primarily at improving the understanding of fundamental processes in order to enable predictions and assessments of global change impacts on natural systems, economic sectors and society. The third theme deals with the socio-economic consequences of global change in the context of sustainable development and theme four ensures that the necessary observation capacity for global change research is developed.

2. Consistency with the aims of the 5th Framework Programme

The Group appreciates that one of the main concepts in FP5, the society driven and problem oriented approach, is adopted in the work program. The close linkages between the key action and the implementation and commitments associated with international environmental agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, the Montreal Protocol and the Biodiversity Convention on one side, and with the related European policies and programmes, on the other side, are very well elaborated. The novel approach of integrating multidisciplinary fundamental research and socio-economic issues is well utilised which, in an area as complex as global change, climate and biodiversity, poses a big challenge.

3. Objectives and strategies

Despite the fact that the programme is meant to focus on European issues, the EAG recommends further analysis of global issues. This will require to secure the access to the necessary data and knowledge outside Europe, integrating atmospheric, cryospheric, oceanographic and geospheric/biospheric research.
As unexpected events may occur, we should be prepared for surprises in the future by allowing basic research beside specific known problem oriented research and hence allow possible re-directions of the programme.
The work programme should be prepared also to address new policy questions and encourage proactive approaches to ensure compatibility between EU and international policies.
In order to implement the overall strategy, an adequate data policy should be established to ensure that the necessary data is made available satisfactorily.
Finally it is recommended that the components of the key action (climate and biodiversity) are addressed in a more balanced manner in the programme.

Minor remark: The definitions and the terminology should be clearer and be used consistently in the different chapters (e.g. global change).

4. Tasks and deliverables

The Group underpins the importance of the multi-disciplinary approach. It is essential that this approach is fully adopted through the use of measurements from multiple sources and integrated climate models involving the components of the earth system (atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere and biosphere). This will help to better understand natural and anthropogenic causes and to improve the prediction of global change processes.

Understanding the basic processes of climate should receive more attention. In this context the objectives should not only focus on climate changes but should also improve the understanding of the climate itself through studies of long term processes including comparisons with paleo-climates.
The Group stresses the importance of studying stratospheric ozone depletion. It recommends to extend the stratospheric ozone depletion analysis to include other stratospheric processes such as atmospheric chemistry and interactions between stratosphere and troposphere.
Furthermore, the group recommends that the land use change analysis should consider the loss of fertile lands, habitats and biodiversity but also how climate change may affect them. Better understanding of the ecosystems is a promising part of the work programme. Of particular importance are those aspects dealing with improving the knowledge of ecological and evolutionary processes involved in biodiversity dynamics and functioning of ecosystems leading to biodiversity loss. The Group recommends giving the analysis of the role of the soils in the terrestrial carbon and nitrogen cycles and also of the contribution of sediment dynamics in deep oceans to the global carbon cycle special attention. In parallel, options relative to the maintenance and enhancement of sinks and their capacity to sequester carbon should be developed.

Within the socio-economic component of the work programme, the group underpins that the enhancement of public/private partnerships and the participation of multi-sectoral interests in all aspects should be promoted in the policy section of the work programme.
In the context of the Kyoto Protocol implementation the Group recommends that the implications of the flexible mechanisms for environmental effectiveness, cost-efficiency and equity considerations at the European and international level should be analysed. There is also a need to collect improved bunker fuels data and to develop options for effective regulations of these emissions, which should be added to the work programme. Furthermore, the program should include the analyses and development of options for implementing international commitments, including the benefits and drawbacks of co-ordination and measures at the national, regional and international level. In addition synergies between international agreements, including co-ordination and implementation strategies across global issues and policy monitoring of their effectiveness, should be examined.
The work programme should ensure that analysis and adaptation options, and the capacity to cope with ecological vulnerabilities are examined. This should include scientific, technical, political, socio-economic, institutional and behavioural considerations. Finally, work on improving and clarifying techniques and procedures for overall monitoring, verification and compliance capability should be enhanced.

In order to fully utilise the observation potential, the Group recommends strengthening the following issue:
Networked integrated multi-purpose capabilities and solutions should be promoted in order to enhance the European component of the global observing systems. The work programme should ensure that reliable data and information are provided by using both, in-situ and space systems. The data should allow model calibration and validation.
Generation and updating of consistent databases should be facilitated and the necessary support for the data management (global approaches, information systems, quality control, validation and operational distribution) has to be organised. Dissemination of the information-integration of data and models- should be organised in a way that will allow serving a full spectrum of users, such as scientists, policy makers, industry and individuals.

The importance of the multi-scale approach in space, from the global to the regional levels, as well as in time should be stressed. 5. Priorities for 1999

The Group recommends that priorities are set along four lines:

  • Research to be continued for the applications of the Montreal Protocol. In particular research on stratospheric ozone depletion and its relation to changes in atmospheric composition should be focused on.
  • Research to be continued and enlarged for the future applications of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. This should include the improvement of climate prediction and assessments of regional climate changes and impacts, including the natural climate variability at all time scales, and climate change detection and attribution. Of particular importance are the better understanding of the bio-geochemical cycles in particular carbon and nitrogen sinks. The reduction of greenhouse gases concentration for mitigation purposes should be analysed. The development of integrated assessment models should also be taken into account.
  • Research should be launched immediately in response to the Biodiversity Convention. The understanding of biodiversity dynamics and the conservation of biodiversity through sustainable use of biological resources together with the vulnerability of ecosystems, which are new elements in the programme, are of particular importance.
  • In parallel,

    In order to properly develop all these activities, global monitoring and databank generation should be initiated by the exploitation and the dissemination of existing data and the adaptation of existing observing capacity to fill gaps in data coverage if necessary.

1. Implementation

It is understood that the implementation of the key action is to be conducted through calls for proposals according to the work programme and its priorities. It is then important that the emphasis and content of the work program is kept up to date with latest results from research in this area.

2. Co-ordination

A well-managed co-ordination of the key action with other related key actions, generic activities, infrastructure and other programmes is crucial. This is not only to avoid duplication of efforts or omission of important tasks but also to take advantage of synergetic effects.
There are great benefits to be gained from sharing data with other key actions and programmes. Common data sets also serving applications such as agriculture, forestry, coastal zones, should be established. Technology transfer and drawing from experience in related areas should be considered

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External Advisory groups | Fifth Framework Programme | 17.02.2000

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