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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:

Photo of a bee on a flower

Preserving the pollinators to protect human health

It is a quiet, modest process which rarely grabs the headlines, but the pollination of plants, trees and crops is a function which is vital both for human wellbeing and for the environment. While some pollination occurs as a result of the wind, the vast majority - especially that which matters most to humans - is carried out by insects.

Bridging European biodiversity research with policy

Biodiversity is the abundance and variety of species, genes and ecosystems on the planet that underpins ecosystems functioning properly. Our food, drinking water and the air we breathe all depend on this system. Yet humans are also one of the greatest threats to the earth's biodiversity. Over seven billion people live on our planet today and by 2050, that figure is predicted to have reached eight billion. To ensure sustainability, EU policymakers have made greening European economies and social systems a central part of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), which runs from 2007 to 2013. However, because biodiversity research is very complex, the exchange of knowledge and requirements between policymakers and scientists is not always simple.

 

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