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[EBOOK] Global Change and Ecosystems (Catalogue of projects funded during the Sixth Framework Programme), Edited by the Environment Directorate, Directorate-General for Research Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems

The start of the Sixth Framework Programme for Research (FP6) in 2002 coincided with the Johannesburg Earth Summit, which drew the world’s attention to the importance of sustainable development. Since then, progress towards gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of global change has been achieved.
Improving our natural surroundings
The Sixth Framework programme's priority on Global Change and Ecosystems supports 280 projects selected between 2002 and 2006. Trans-national project teams work together to gain better understanding of global change and its prediction, prevention and mitigation as well as to preserve the ecosystems and protect biodiversity, including sustainable use of land and marine resources.

These research teams study for example the impact and mechanisms of greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollutant on climate, ozone depletion and carbon sinks (oceans and inland waters, forests and soil). They do research to understand the mechanisms and assess the impact of global change on the water cycle, water quality and availability, as well as soil functions and quality to provide the bases for management tools for sustainable water systems. Biodiversity and ecosystems are analysed to understand and minimise the negative impacts of human activities. The mechanisms of desertification and natural hazards, such as earth quakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity, are being elucidated to improve risk assessment, forecasting, prevention and mitigation. Efforts are also deployed to improve, integrate and use Earth Observation systems which are ground-based, airborne and space observing systems, crucial for example in monitoring climate change or for enabling early warning of natural hazards. In addition, strategies and tools for sustainable use of land, with emphasis on coastal zones, agricultural lands and forests are developed to ensure sustainable development at economic, social and environmental levels.

In 2004, the Global Change and Ecosystems priority was oriented to also support the Commission's Action Plans regarding Environmental technologies and Environment and health.

European research is thus delivering sustainable solutions to societal and industrial problems. The 'problem solving' approach combines scientific expertise with industrial involvement to secure reliable and exploitable results with highly marketable potential. Green technologies create a real opportunity to combine long-term economic growth with a better environment. The development of technologies includes reducing the degree of pollution in soil, rivers, lakes and the atmosphere, as well as minimising waste.

Within the 280 projects of the Global Change and Ecosystems priority, a total of 83 projects carry out research directly linked to policy-making, assessing - for example -the impact of environmental issues on health. These projects are part of the Scientific Support to Policies (SSP) activities, which aim to help politicians to make effective policies based on sound evidence. Commission services, outside the Directorate General for Research, with a clear interest in SSP activities (mainly from environment, enterprise, agriculture and regional policy areas) were consulted to establish a list of research topics high on the agenda of EU policy-making.

FP6 research activities aim to strengthen and integrate the European Research Area (ERA). As a novelty within FP6, two new funding instruments, the Networks of Excellence (NoE) and the Integrated Projects (IP), were developed to serve this purpose. These instruments encourage collaboration among Europeans researchers from institutes, companies or universities. In addition, the ERA-NET scheme was designed to support the long-lasting coordination of European research programmes across national boundaries, with the participation of funders and managers of national and regional research programmes.
The calls for proposals for “Global Change and Ecosystems”

A wide consultation process was initiated by the European Commission, involving notably the scientific community, enterprises and the Member States, helped in defining the research areas to be covered by this priority. On this basis, calls for proposals were published by the European Commission in the Official Journal and on the CORDIS website.

Four calls for proposals were launched, as well as one targeted call for Specific Support Actions for Associated Candidate Countries. This helped to prepare the accession of the new 10 Member States and simplified their integration into the European Research Area. In addition, a top-up call was launched to extend ongoing projects with Third Country partners.

These calls have generated high interest within the scientific community of the European Union and also from many Third Countries which were motivated to participate in the environmental research of the Community. In total, more than 1 200 proposals have been submitted to the calls. Based upon independent evaluation procedures, 280 contracts have been or are being signed (data as of January 2007), connecting more than 4 660 partners from all over Europe and the world.

The new instruments and initiative were welcomed. A total of 47 IPs and 8 NoEs were selected and each of them has in average 40 partners! Around 20% of all ERA-NETs are dealing with environmental topics. It demonstrates the importance of this thematic area among the ERA-NETs.

These new instruments are complemented by Specific Targeted Research Projects (STREPs, 146 projects), Co-ordination Actions (CA, 17 projects) and Specific Support Actions (SSA, 62 projects). Financial breakdown per funding instrument is presented in the table below.

[EBOOK] Global Change and Ecosystems (Catalogue of projects funded during the Sixth Framework Programme), Edited by the Environment Directorate, Directorate-General for Research Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems

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