Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
  Current framework programme
  Economic development and cohesion
  Enlargement
  European Research Area
  Past framework programmes
  Regional dimension of innovation
  Scientific support to policies
  Sixth Framework Programme
  Other
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Jamaica
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Malta
  Mexico
  Morocco
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Senegal
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Sri Lanka
  Swaziland
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Uganda
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


This page was published on 14/03/2006
Published: 14/03/2006

   Headlines

Last Update: 14-03-2006  
Related category(ies):
Information society  |  Research policy

 

Add to PDF "basket"

Model solution to sustaining Europe's less-than-model regions

As an intangible quality, ‘sustainability' is not something you can typically count or carry by the truckload. Yet it is considered vital to policy-making and carefully observed in relation to Europe's regions. EU-funded researchers were convinced they could create a mathematical model and related geo-information tool to crystalise this fluid concept and help planners and policy-makers make meaningful decisions on regional development.

Models to help planners and policy-makers assess the repercussions of their decisions on regional development. © PhotoDisc
Models to help planners and policy-makers assess the repercussions of their decisions on regional development.
© PhotoDisc
If fuels are taxed, what is the impact on emissions, the economy or citizens? Policy-makers favour one policy over another and budgets are adapted accordingly. The new mathematical model, created by the EU-funded EPSILON project, will give Europe's regional leaders a quantitative idea of the overall impacts on sustainability in their area.

“There's been a lot of talk about sustainability in Europe for a number of years, but it's an intangible quality,” comments Marc Bonazountas, who heads the Environmental Systems Unit at Athens University and was technical adviser on the three-year project. EPSILON was one of 36 projects funded within the EPROS (European Plan for Research in Official Statistics) scheme of the IST programme which brought together national statistical institutes, universities, administrations and private companies and was managed by Eurostat – the EU's statistical office.

Being able to predict the impact of a policy decision is a powerful tool. But Bonazountas warns that no model is perfect: “No model can be an absolute reference, but within the same model it is possible to judge the relative merits between two competing policies,” he told IST Results.

For example, the authorities in the Italian region of Calabria tested the model to assess the sustainable management of water resources. Users are given a snapshot of a region's sustainability or they can drill down to examine just one aspect of the model. The authorities were so pleased with the results that they intend to expand their use of it, according to IST Results.

Enter the matrix
At the heart of the model are four pillars – environmental, economic, social and institutional – each subdivided into four themes, the so-called ‘sustainability matrix', for data collection. Under the water theme, for instance, you find fresh water quantity, surface water quality, coastal and ground water.

Very accurate data collected (to the Eurostat-defined NUTS III level) is entered into a mathematical model that estimates sustainability indices for themes and pillars per region. This model is also processed by a Geographical Information System (GIS) which then produces colour-coded maps showing and comparing the sustainability of particular regions under different scenarios.

Using new GeoSpace ‘clustering' techniques, EPSILON also developed alternative ways of displaying the data, where the geometry of the maps is created from the data itself. So-called ‘space models' like this provide real added value over conventional approaches, as they make peculiarities in the data easier to find.

A working version of the team's modelling software is now complete and being made available for testing purposes which will help refine the software and algorithms. But these systems take time to roll out, laments Bonazountas. It could take 20 years before the tool can become a widely accepted and reliable standard for modelling sustainability.

“It takes five years for a model to become well-known and another five for it to be tested. Finally, it takes probably ten years before a model's reputation and reliability are truly established,” he predicts.

IST Results

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

EPSILON project website

EPSILON fact sheet on CORDIS

Related projects researching in this area

Environment Policy Relevance


Contacts
Research DG contacts
  Top   Research Information Center