The acceleration of globalisation processes creates opportunities
for economic development as well as higher risks of negative impacts,
such as financial crisis, over-exploitation and degradation of
natural resources, and food insecurity.
The consequences of the above-mentioned negative impacts are
greater inequalities (between and within countries), greater instability
(social as well as in the global economy), and environmental unsustainability
(local, regional or global).
Research on inequality, instability and unsustainability targets
the understanding of cause and effect relationships over variable
time frames and cutting across local, national, regional and international
dimensions. These are issues the complexity of which requires
varied and multidimensional research approaches and methodologies,
necessarily interdisciplinary in nature.
At the centre of this type of research will be individual behaviour
and social dynamics under varying conditions of political, sociological
and economic transition. A feature of the research will be the
essential heterogeneity in cultural and educational features that
influence and determine value systems and social structures. For
this reason, a special role is assigned to the joint participation
of the relevant 'hard' sciences directly related to the various
sectors of human activity, as well as social sciences such as
anthropology, sociology, economics, history and political science.
In addition to research on sustainability, research constitutes
an irreplaceable mechanism in developing the knowledge required
to tap the opportunities created by globalisation while preventing
or controlling its negative impacts. This is the realm of 'research
for development', a domain pioneered by the Union over the past
two decades, in full partnership with developing countries.
Priority setting in research for development is necessarily
based on a comprehensive dialogue with developing countries. This
dialogue is carried out at multiple levels, ranging from international
fora, such as the various UN conferences during the 1990s, to
institutionalised bi-regional meetings such as ASEM, ALCUE, the
Mediterranean Partnership and the Europe-Africa Summit, bilateral
arrangements and informal trans-regional meetings of scientists
Addressing these priorities requires means for transnational
and trans-regional S&T cooperation. The Union has provided
support to some of these priorities under all its RTD Framework
Programmes, thus creating an international image of relevance
and scientific credibility. Credible and effective S&T cooperation
requires balanced human and institutional assets on both sides.