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New studies highlight role of research and development

The European Commission has recently published two studies highlighting the future and sustainable development. Both reports touch on research and development (R&D) and the central part that it can play in addressing challenges facing modern society.

The study entitled 'Peop...
The European Commission has recently published two studies highlighting the future and sustainable development. Both reports touch on research and development (R&D) and the central part that it can play in addressing challenges facing modern society.

The study entitled 'People, the economy and our planet' looks at sustainable development from the socio-economic sciences and humanities, while the 'World in 2025' examines the conclusions of the European Foresight Expert Group.

'Research deals with long-term issues and the need to support a knowledge-based society,' commented Jean-Michael Baer, Director at the Directorate-General for Research. 'Through international collaboration, European research can project its sustainability goals onto the rest of the world in a positive and participatory way.'

An important part of the EU research effort is the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The SSH contribution to sustainable development is highlighted in 'People, the economy and our planet'.

A central theme to the study is the behaviour of complex systems that are under stress and the positive support that can come from innovation across a wide range of technological areas. To create sustainable development will require an unprecedented integration of research and practice across disciplines, and new modes of scientific and political discourse including socio-economic sciences and humanities, says the study.

The themes of innovation, change and future challenges are a major part of a second study called 'The World in 2025'. The research was conducted by the European Foresight Expert Group, launched in 2008 by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Research, in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA).

Group members included representatives from think tanks, universities, industry, the European Commission and governmental bodies. Meeting the challenges of the near future, they write, may mean moving towards a new production and consumption model, new rural-urban dynamics, and a new gender and intergenerational balance.

'European research on its own will not make the world more sustainable, but it is without any doubt a central part of any answer,' continued Jean-Michel Baer. 'A society that derives more wealth creation and prosperity from knowledge will be a more sustainable one, because it will be able to do more with less.'

Source: European Commission

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