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Proposals for Council Decisions
concerning the specific programmes implementing the
Fifth Framework Programme of the European Community
for research, technological development and demonstration activities (1998-2002)

Preserving the ecosystem


  • The fight against major natural and technological hazards

Objectives and RTD activities

The aim is, through a better understanding of processes, mechanisms and events generating natural and technological hazards, to develop technologies and methods for environmental impact assessment, risk forecasting, prevention, evaluation and mitigation. Support to improved decision-making systems, including evaluation and validation tools for assessing hazards and for emergency management would be provided.

RTD priorities

: identification and analysis of factors which increase the level of natural risks; development and improvement of methods, models and tools for hazard vulnerability and risk assessment including quantification of the present and future levels of risk; development of effective tools and methods for information management; development of innovative methods and technologies to combat disasters and alleviate their consequences; improvement of the operational safety of hazardous installations.
  • Development of earth observation satellite technologies (36)

Objectives and RTD activities

The strategic aim is to provide a sustainable European capability in operational services for monitoring the Earth from space, leading to improvements in our understanding of the planet, more effective conservation of our natural heritage, enhanced management of resources, and mitigation of major hazards. The RTD action will provide applications, products and services based on earth observation, linked to environmental monitoring and management of resources, land use and ecosystems. The focus will be on meeting the needs of a wide range of users, particularly those in Member State authorities. In this way, earth observation will naturally be integrated with other relevant technologies as required, such as airborne remote sensing, space telecommunications, navigation and global information systems.

The following research priorities will be implemented in line with the objectives of the Centre for Earth Observation initiative:

RTD priorities

: innovative pilot applications and focused methodological research to improve the effectiveness of activities in priority areas for EU policies; investigations into technical, legal and economic aspects; requirement and feasibility studies to help specify new services and mission; new scenarios to prepare for self-sustaining operational services; promotion, education and training to make better use of existing and planned earth observation data and information sources.
  • Socio-economic aspects of environmental change in the perspective of sustainable development

Objectives and RTD activities

The overall aim is to develop a sound scientific basis for, and advance the application and use of, models for sustainable development and to facilitate the integration of sustainability considerations into key EU sectoral policies (industry, transport, tourism, etc.) and into the key actions of the fifth framework programme.

This integration is to be achieved by identification and assessment of the key interrelations between socio-economic driving forces of technological change, economic globalisation, societal behaviour and environmental change, and their socio-economic impacts. Effective utilisation of this knowledge in policy formulation depends upon the development and testing of improved methods and policy tools.

RTD priorities

: identification and evaluation of the key relationships between socio-economic development and environmental change; driving forces and impacts are to be assessed in terms of policies, institutions, demography, production and consumption, technological development, distribution, security, culture and ethics. Development and application of methods and tools for the integration and promotion of economic, social and environmental objectives; descriptive and performance measures of sustainable development, development of sustainable development indicators and analysis of ecological footprints. Design and comparative assessments of various approaches to eco-efficiency, including rational use of resources and industrial ecology; sustainable consumption; environmental governance principles for sustainability.
  • Socio-economic aspects of energy within the perspective of sustainable development (the impact on society, the economy and employment)

Objectives and RTD priorities

The aim is to develop and apply tools for assessing and monitoring the socio-economic aspects of energy technologies, systems and services using a "technology assessment" approach at the project level and a "global systems analysis" approach at a much more general level.

RTD priorities:

for technology assessment - the social dimension (e.g. behaviour, acceptance), the innovation dimension, including the "command and control" measures and the impact of other policies, the assessment of the externalities and their internalisation and, finally, comparative assessment; for systems analysis - the understanding of the relationship between energy, environment, technologies and economic growth taking into account societal values and natural and human resources.



  • To encourage the transnational use of public or private facilities which address critical needs in order to further improve their exploitation while avoiding unnecessary duplication, and to cover emerging priority needs.

Activitie s

In order to reinforce the European added value and optimise the efforts made, the Community support will be directed towards:

  • Transnational coordination, integrated management of specific aspects of operation, access to and improvement of existing facilities;

  • Coordination and complementarity of national or multinational initiatives to support facilities needed at the European level;

  • Networking of communities of researchers and users through research projects and specific training activities centred on appropriate infrastructures, or cooperation of several partners to form an integrated service provider;

  • Increasing the compatibility of dispersed systems aiming to provide rapid and effective integration of facilities and resources.


Supporting infrastructure for assessing and observing the earth systems (e.g. ocean), in order to improve prediction of natural hazards and global changes will include more specifically:

  • Climate and global change research facilities. Centres for climate prediction, super-computer facilities; archiving facilities; centres for integrated assessment; climate and global change databases; simulation chambers, ground-based stations and aircraft for the observation of atmosphere; devices and networks for observation of palaeo-environmental information; support to taxonomy.

  • Marine research facilities. Marine databases; collection of marine samples, support to taxonomy; test basins; research vessels; platforms and centres for forecasting of ocean state; manned, robotic, and automatic observation systems.

  • Natural hazards research facilities. Facilities and key operational networks for data on earthquakes, floods, tidal waves and storms, landslides, volcanoes and forest fires.

36. Space-related activities are subject to central coordination across the various programmes.

NB : While the Commission Services do their utmost to avoid any errors or omissions, the Commission disclaims all liability for the documents circulated, and the only authentic version is that published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

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