Environmental and Marine Research under the Fourth Framework Programme
Outlines of each of the specific programmes within the Fourth Framework Programme were released by the Commission on 10 March 1994. These include an overview of research and technological development during 1994-1998 in the field of the environment: One of the greatest challenges of the coming century is the integration of the totality of human activities in the framework of achieving sustainable economic development while safeguarding the environment. RTD actions undertaken by the European Union will aim to understand the fundamental processes of the climate and natural systems (continental, oceanic and atmospheric). These actions require the implementation of a comprehensive EU policy on the environment which must, when established, increase the competitivity of European enterprises and generate employment. 1) Environment and Climate: The programme on environment and climate will establish networks of excellence and pursue RTD actions in three areas: - "Research on the natural environment, environmental quality and global change", to understand the fundamental mechanisms of the climate and natural systems and to evaluate the impact of human activity on these systems and on natural resources; - "Environmental technologies", with the aim of developing technologies for the observation and protection of the environment (biosensors, waste treatment, etc.), restoration of damaged environments and natural risk management; - "Space technologies applied to earth observation and research in the environmental field", towards an assessment of the condition of the planet on the basis of data gathered by satellite, requiring the development of specific satellite-based instruments (in this context an Earth Observation Centre will be established). Research will also focus on social and economic factors linked to environmental change in order to integrate these into the environmental policy of the European Union. Participation of the Member States in international programmes on global change will be coordinated via the European Network for Research on Global Change (ENRICH). Support measures will also be implemented, particularly concerning exchange of information and international cooperation, and also to encourage the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 2) Marine Science and Technology: Seas and oceans form the "new frontier" of knowledge and, at the same time, play an essential role in climate regulation. Four research areas will be covered: - "Marine sciences", to understand the fundamental processes which control the marine environment, including its extremes (abyssal or ice covered areas, etc.) and particular European zones (Baltic, Mediterranean, etc.); - "Strategic marine research", with a view to bringing together the exploitation of marine resources and their protection, with work dedicated to the identification of risks and negative impacts liable to affect the marine environment; - "Marine technologies", with the aim of developing generic technologies for the supervision, exploitation and protection of the marine environment (oceanographic observation, submarine communication and vision, analysis of natural substances, measurement equipment, remote-controlled vehicles and benthic laboratories); - "Support initiatives", to coordinate European cooperation efforts (training, access to experimental installations, actions related to small and medium-sized enterprises, etc.).