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The Right Environment for IST

Important! Information available on the Unit 'Environment' pages is related to activities undertaken during EU's Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002). Follow this link to access the Sixth Framework Programme site .


Global warming, natural disasters, pollution... Though frequently cited topics in the media, are Europeans reliably informed about the environment? Society needs credible, timely and readily available information about:

  • pollution controls on land, sea & air;
  • disaster prevention;
  • risk assessment & management; and
  • sustainability issues, ... to name just a few.

The work of the Environment and Humanitarian Demining Unit of DG Information Society helps industry and public authorities focus their research and development (R&D) in these important areas by coordinating projects to generate and disseminate environmental information throughout society.

Funded projects sharing common themes in this unit are organised into co-operative clusters. These 'thematic clusters' serve as value-adding networks to support the projects and the various participants involved, be they researchers, universities, government agencies, industry or general-interest groups.

Humanitarian Demining

Today, there are over 10 million landmines lying undetected in war zones across the globe - around 500,000 estimated in Bosnia Herzegovina alone. Immediate action is needed to stop the injuries, fatalities, property damage and economic hardship resulting from landmine proliferation.

As current technologies are incapable of detecting vast numbers of mines within an acceptable time frame, the EU has provided impetus to European R&D and demonstration activities, applying new IST technologies to underpin its commitment to clearing mines in the Stability Pact Region - meeting its obligations as a signatory to the Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel mines, 18 September 1997.

The target is to encourage economic and social rehabilitation within the Stability Pact Region by clearing all mines in the area within 10 to 15 years.


In line with the specific needs of the sector and the IST Programme as a whole, the objectives of the Environment & Humanitarian Demining Unit are as follows:


  • To facilitate development of monitoring, forecasting and decision-support systems and services for the environment;
  • To stimulate the development of new systems and services to prevent and/or control emergency situations, whether natural (e.g. floods, volcanic eruption) or man-made (e.g. landmines, industrial pollution); and
  • To support the development of integrated information tools and support systems for sustainable development (e.g. more efficient use of resources and observance of ecological issues).

Humanitarian Demining

  • To support the development of new data fusion technologies to integrate data from different sensors for mine detection and identification;
  • To guide and support the technology sector in developing new - and improving existing - smart sensors for the 'humanitarian demining' effort; and
  • To encourage further research and development in this field.


The Environment & Humanitarian Demining Unit is actively involved in research and projects in the following areas:


  • Air quality & emissions: modelling tools for improved smog management, real-time mobile warning systems, online information networks on air pollution;
  • Water management: pollution monitoring via underwater video imaging, data warehousing and exchange networks on Europe's coastal and inland waters, integrated information services for maritime traffic and resources;
  • Natural resources (ecosystems): evaluation of the impacts of solar radiation, the integration of earth observation data into environmental impact studies on mining, forest monitoring and management; and
  • Natural disasters (& climate): monitoring river levels for flood prevention and management, robotic systems to analyse volcanic/seismic activity, climate reporting - combining satellite, weather, ice and ocean data.

Humanitarian Demining

  • Developing new smart sensors and sensor platforms for mine detection systems, aimed at reducing the 'false alarm' rate persistent in current technologies;
  • More accurate detection of mines through improved interpretation of sensor data (achieved through new robust data fusion algorithms); and
  • Integrated data systems for accurate mapping of mined areas.