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The Horizon Prize for collaborative spectrum sharing

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:

Photo of fish in the water

Cleaning up in aquaculture

Aquaculture is making a vital contribution to feeding the world's growing population. A project involving one African and several European partners has developed new water purification technologies that remove the nitrogen present in effluent from water used in fish farms. They are likely to reduce the costs and environmental impact of aquaculture waste water.

Picture of sewage treatment plant

New life for sewage sludge

Sewage may not look like a particularly precious resource, but it is home to phosphorus and other products, such as metals and biogas. EU-funded researchers are developing and demonstrating more efficient ways to extract these, turning waste into a valuable and renewable resource, creating new opportunities for companies and reducing its impact on the environment.


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