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International Day for Biological Diversity: EU Research

The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

Biodiversity is the complex web of life on Earth, incorporating humans and our social and economic systems. The number of life-forms on Earth is unknown, but it may be some 20–30 million species, of which only about 1.8 million are known to science. Biodiversity can be studied at the level of the whole planet or confined to a mountain lake. However, whatever the level, the organisms interact in a complex, dynamic manner – both among themselves and with the non-living environment they share. Animals, plants and micro-organisms are a vital resource for humans, forming important elements in many processes on which we depend. .

European research is directed towards assessing and forecasting changes in biodiversity and understanding the dynamics of ecosystems, particularly marine ecosystems. The relationships between the environment, the society and the economy are analysed in order to identify – and mitigate – potentially harmful effects on the environment and on human health and society. Risk assessments based on European research allow us to better manage, conserve and rehabilitate our ecosystems in a sustainable manner for future generations.

Here are two examples of successful, EU-funded biodiversity-related research projects:

picture of healty meal

Stepping up the fight against food contamination

They may sound exotic or obscure to most of us, but they are an integral part of our everyday lives, whether we know about them or not. Known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), they are chemical compounds which are used in a wide variety of industrial products, from food and drink packaging to fire-fighting foams, to dirt- or water-proofing treatments for carpets or clothing. The drawback is that these chemicals have now spread throughout the environment.

Photo life beneath the surface of the ocean

Exploring the depths of the ocean-the new frontier in biotechnology

As society strives to produce more effective medicines, cosmetics and other industrial materials, while at the same time minimising the effect on the environment and the depletion of the earth's resources, one major source of renewable natural materials has remained tantalisingly beyond our reach: the deepest, most inaccessible and hostile parts of the ocean. MAMBA is a pioneering European Union (EU)-funded research project, which is changing that.

 

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