We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
On 11 October, the JRC launched a new online in-house Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies. This platform brings together a wealth of existing data, methods, and tools to support regional and urban policy, covering areas such as demography, air quality and transport. The aim is to ensure user-friendly access to data for EU, national and international policy makers. The Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies will also help identify gaps in scientific knowledge related to territorial policies, as well as carry out related research.
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the JRC, said: "Managing and integrating evidence and data is indispensable for high quality decision making. The Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies will provide a single-access point in order to synthesise and coordinate information that will support Europe's cities and regions in boosting economic growth and job creation."
What is the proportion of population living in cities, towns and suburbs within the European Union and will be in the next 20 years? Are investments to optimise energy production and consumption in regions efficient? Which is the concentration of pollutants in European functional urban areas within and between countries and will be in 2030? The Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies will provide answers to those and other questions, offering one-stop access to data, policy analysis, interactive tools and methods for policy makers, scientists, stakeholders, including the Committee of Regions and the public at large.
The new centre will, for instance, offer access to data and indicators on trends and the status of European urban areas, collected from sources such as EUROSTAT, national statistical services, and the OECD. This data will be displayed in a user-friendly way, through dashboards and maps presenting territorial analyses and trends in territories, including population growth, air quality, and accessibility of regional territories.
The Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies was launched at the JRC annual conference, held in Brussels on 11 October 2016, with Markku Markkula, President of the Committee of Regions, and senior Commission officials including Vladimir Šucha, Director-General of the JRC, Marc Lemaitre, Director General for Regional and Urban Policy, Michel Servoz, Director-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and Jens Nymand Christensen, Deputy Director-General for Education and Culture. Enrico Giovannini, from the University of Rome "Tor Vergata” and visiting fellow at the European Commission’s Political Strategy Centre, gave the keynote lecture on human capital, the most important investment for Europe. Alvaro Pereira, Director of Country Studies in the Economics Department of the OECD presented in a keynote speech the perspectives on global development challenges.
Over 200 participants representing different academic fields, regions, cities, business and international organisations have discussed what science can do better to address the current and future societal challenges related to human capital, such as demographic change, migration, ageing of population, inequality or fairness in cities and regions.
The parallel sessions held in the afternoon focused on the needs of human capital locally and it’s potential to provide solutions to societal challenges; on people and institutions to strengthen innovation in Europe’s cities and regions; on tomorrow’s cities, and innovative approaches to tackling social challenges; and on methods and approaches to measure and enhance human capital in support of local and regional growth.
The conference was preceded by the JRC annual lecture dedicated to the science of fairness. Two of the JRC leading economic researchers, Sven Langedijk and Francesca Campolongo, presented evidence-based insights into various aspects of fairness and how different inequalities inter-act and cumulate. Simon Gaechter, Professor of Psychology of Economic Decision Making at the University of Nottingham, UK responded to the lecture in a discussion with the audience, chaired by Vladimir Šucha. The lecture builds on existing JRC work on topics related to fairness, and also launches a more targeted research activity on the subject pooling together various aspects. This work will be the basis of a large-scale report to be published in 2017.
Recognition of the importance of the territorial dimension is at the core of the European Structural and Investments Funds (ESI Funds) and many other Commission policies. Growth and job creation depends on the capacity to make best use of all territorial assets and to build links with other territories to ensure that common assets are used in an efficient and coordinated way. To achieve so, it is essential to access knowledge on EU regions and cities in a more effective way.
The Knowledge Centre on Territorial Policies is the third Knowledge Centre launched recently, following the one dedicated to disaster risk management (launched in September 2015), and to migration and demography (June 2016). The JRC has started creating specific knowledge centres in different areas of expertise where there is a clear and specific EU policy demand. Ever-greater access to and amount of available knowledge, triggers also a pressing need for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. This is necessary to make sense of the knowledge to inform policy-making. Knowledge centres play the pivotal role of bringing together experts and knowledge from different locations inside and outside the Commission.