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Editorial

Dear Reader,

Acting Together for Sustainable Development.

The issue of 'sustainable development' is now a key part of political and institutional discourse.

Since the Gothenburg European Council (2001), this theme clarifies the Lisbon strategy, the aim of which is the building of a knowledge society at the European level. But it also reveals the tensions and contradictions current in our societies, and leads us to question the relevance of our instruments to evaluate and measure the results of policies that have been implemented. It is remarkable that the main indicator cited in social and political discourse is GDP, which is 'blind' as regards sustainable development.

Since the goal of sustainable development touches the ensemble of human activities, and concerns the behaviour of individuals and social groups, it becomes a favoured subject of research in social science and humanities. It concerns research which by its nature is interdisciplinary, combining social, economic and environmental dimensions, which implies international action since sustainable development only makes sense if it is global; and for the reasons mentioned, if it deals with questions of governance. The first pieces of research undertaken under the Fifth Research Framework Programme have recently given rise to a policy review around the principal question "sustainability of what, why, and for whom?" Other projects are currently underway under the Sixth Framework Programme. The new framework programme will build on this research by favouring the development of concepts, methodologies, and comparative analyses, and by analysing the different political, economic, social and environmental factors that interact in the sustainable development strategy.

Starting this year, the first research subjects of the Seventh Framework Programme are proposed to the scientific community. They concern in particular the trajectories of socio-economic development in different European countries, and relations and synergies between the different aspects of sustainable development, as well as analysing whether or not this objective is taken into account by the political communities, and analysing their impact.

Throughout the whole of the Seventh Research Framework Programme we must encourage research to better understand the challenges facing Europe and the world in the pursuit of sustainable development. This is an important mission as well as a great responsibility which involves the Commission services, our colleagues in the Member States and Associated Countries and above all the research community. Together we can make progress.

Jean-Michel Baer
Director, Directorate L
Science, Economy and Society