Cross-border research centre tackles environmental and health problems

Environmental pollution in the Greek-Bulgarian border region requires joint monitoring, research and health controls, as well as strengthened information exchange between the authorities in both countries. The new Cross-border Research Centre for Environment and Health in Kardzhali, on the Bulgarian side of the border, is fostering territorial cooperation on these topics.

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Façade of the new Environment and Health Cross-border Research Centre © Jeni Staykova Façade of the new Environment and Health Cross-border Research Centre © Jeni Staykova

" The new research centre is important for the region and for both countries. It will provide ecology students with better conditions for developing higher vocational and practical skills in a laboratory environment. This will improve the quality of their professional training and give them a better chance on the labour market. "

Assoc. Prof. Jeni Staykova, Cross-border Research Centre 'Environment and Health' Project Manager

The project aims to improve the quality of life and health of the local population through control of environmental conditions and their impact on health. To this end, a cross-border system for monitoring and analysing links between the environment and health has been created, generating increased regional research capacity, and building a cross-border public health and social service cooperation network and informing the public about health risks from pollution.

The main outcomes are the establishment of the Research Centre and its accredited laboratory, and an information exchange system for local stakeholders, which can serve as an early warning system against health threats from pollution. The Centre provides training and equipment to Bulgarian and Greek partners, performs pilot studies and gives university students practical experience of field work, analysis and research.

Data collection and monitoring work

Work in the Centre includes data collection on pollution levels and monitoring of the impact of pollution on health. Data is disseminated to project partners, interested parties in the region, and the public, so as to raise awareness of environmental problems, leading to pressure to reduce pollution.

In the laboratory, samples of components found in air, water and soil are analysed with a view to developing a common quality standard in accordance with national environment and health action plans. Portable sampling equipment and an off-road vehicle can be used for ad hoc or emergency sampling.

Strengthened knowledge for future benefits

Increased capacity among regional experts, greater awareness of environmental and health issues, and networks of stakeholders created by the project should support future joint actions and continued strengthening of regional capacity for tackling health and environmental problems. This should further improve the health of people in the region.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “RCEH - Cross-border Research Centre 'Environment and Health'” is EUR 1 903 715, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 618 158 from the Operational Programme “Greece - Bulgaria” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date