Research into global change and ecosystems plays a major supporting role to the EU strategy for Sustainable Development which was agreed at Göteborg in 2001 and subsequently expanded onto an international scale in the context of the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development (SD) in 2002.
The Sub-Priority 'Global Change and Ecosystems' offers a programme of activity which will increase the scientific knowledge necessary for the future orientation of the sustainable development strategy and the 6th Environment Action Programme and will also provide the requisite socio-economic tools and assessments and the overall management practices. Furthermore it will ensure that these are implemented successfully at the enlarged EU level and (where relevant) the world level.
The best way to achieve these objectives will be through activities aimed at the development of common integrated approaches necessary to implement sustainable development, taking into account its environmental, economic and social aspects, as well as the impact of global change on all regions and countries of the world. This will foster the convergence of European and national research efforts for common definitions of thresholds of sustainability and common estimation methods, and will encourage international co-operation in order to achieve common strategies to respond to issues relating to global change.
The Global Change and Ecosystems sub-programme is designed to strengthen the necessary scientific knowledge for the future orientation of the sustainable development strategy and the 6th Environment Action Programme, and to achieve this aim it addresses the following more specific objectives:
- to strengthen the capacity to understand, detect and forecast global change and develop strategies for prevention, mitigation and adaptation, in close liaison with the relevant international research programmes and in the context of relevant conventions;
- to preserve ecosystems and protect biodiversity which would also contribute to the sustainable use of land and marine resources.
In respect of global change, the strategies for integrated, sustainable management of agricultural and forest ecosystems are of particular importance for the preservation of these ecosystems and will contribute substantially in sustainable development in Europe.
The Global Change and Ecosystems sub-programme addresses seven research areas, which are further subdivided into sub-areas. It is also complemented by a cross-cutting sustainable development dimension horizontal to these areas and by specific support actions.
The seven research areas (and the sub-areas within each of these) are as follows:
I. Impact on mechanisms of greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollutants on climate, ozone depletion and carbon sinks:
I.1. Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles: sources and sinks
I.2. Atmospheric pollutants and their regional impacts
I.3. Climate dynamics and variability
I.4. Prediction of climatic change and its impacts
I.5. Stratospheric ozone and climate interactions
I.6. Adaptation and mitigation strategies
II. Water cycle, including soil-related aspects:
II.1. Hydrology and climate processes
II.2. Ecological impact of global change, soil functioning and water quality
II.3. Integrated management strategies and mitigation technologies
II.4. Scenarios of water demand and availability
III. Biodiversity and ecosystems:
III.1. Assessing and forecasting changes in biodiversity, structure, function and dynamics of ecosystems and their services,
with emphasis on marine ecosystems functioning
III.2. Relationships between society, economy, biodiversity and habitats
III.3. Integrated assessment of drivers affecting ecosystems functioning and biodiversity, and mitigation options
III.4. Risk assessment, management, conservation and rehabilitation options in relation to terrestrial and marine ecosystems
IV. Mechanisms of desertification and natural disasters:
IV.1. Mechanisms of desertification
The indicative budget allocated to the Global Change and Ecosystems sub-programme is EUR 700 million.