News13 May 2019Milan, ItalyResearch and Innovation
Commission and European Space Agency plan Earth-system science initiative to address critical environmental challenges
Satellites provide critical information on climate change, delivering the evidence needed to make informed decisions related to critical resources like water, food, land and marine ecosystems, pollution and biodiversity. One excellent example of this kind of services is provided by the Copernicus programme.
Recognising the importance of collaboration in the field of Earth-system science, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation and the European Space Agency (ESA) have announced today their intention to establish a joint initiative to align selected activities in terms of goals, content, and planning under the research programmes of both institutions. The announcement was made by Deputy Director General for Research and Innovation, Patrick Child and ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes Josef Aschbacher at the Living Planet Symposium, one of the biggest Earth observation conferences in the world.
Speaking at the opening session of the symposium, Patrick Child said
By working together, the ESA and the Commission can better shape how we contribute to the challenges of achieving a sustainable Europe by 2030 and goals set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate. We will be able to build on the experience gathered with the climate monitoring service of the Copernicus programme.
Josef Aschbacher added
It is so important that environmental and climatic issues are tackled before it’s too late. Here in Europe, we are well-placed to make a real difference. We have the infrastructure and the expertise and we are thrilled to strengthen our cooperation with the Commission to further Earth-system science
The intention of the joint Commission-ESA initiative is to align the scientific programme of Horizon Europe with that of FutureEO, ESA’s research programme, with the objective of reducing inefficiencies and fragmentation in the European research area and amplify the scientific and societal impact of ESA and EU investments.
Our natural world is changing faster than at any other time in history, and science is fundamental to understanding the effect on the environment. In the next decades, population growth is expected to amplify current pressures on critical resources such as fresh water and food, intensify the stress on land and marine ecosystems and increase environmental pollution and its impacts on heath and biodiversity. These problems will be further exacerbated by the likely impacts of climate change on the Earth system. This is expected to lead to rising sea levels and more frequent and intense extreme events such as floods, heat waves and droughts, endangering human lives and property, especially those of the most vulnerable populations.
The Commission and the ESA are the biggest funding bodies for Earth observation in Europe, and with Copernicus Europe is home to one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated space-based observation systems in the world. This new collaboration between the Commission and ESA on science will further advance their shared mission to respond to global challenges, particularly those brought about by climate change.