Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, welcomed Ukraine as a full member of Horizon 2020 last month.
Climate change, war, water security, energy – these are issues that cross borders and span continents. That’s why science diplomacy is bringing together researchers to help solve problems that politics frequently struggles to address.
During April, we delve into some of the cross-border research projects that are uniting scientists and helping to bridge divides between countries.
We also find out how science diplomacy can help create the conditions for sustainable development to the east and south of the EU, and we follow Commissioner Moedas as he travels to Amman in Jordan to foster research cooperation between the EU and the Middle East.
The challenge of how to rebuild society following conflict is a difficult question that arises all too frequently, but recent studies have demonstrated that putting people at the centre of the process and enabling cooperation on politically neutral issues can help build peace.
The SESAME synchrotron in Jordan shows that science can make positive things happen among countries in a region which is facing political tensions, according to Dr Jean-Pierre Koutchouk, coordinator of the EU-funded CESSAMag project.
This month, Horizon explores the global challenge of biodiversity loss. Many experts believe we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, where human-caused factors such as land use and pollution are causing a decline in biodiversity – something that threatens the future of our own species. We speak to British ecologist Professor Georgina Mace about how bad the situation is and what we can do about it. We explore marine ecosystems, where species relocation outpaces that of terrestrial populations, and examine how we can help these environments adapt. We also look into the link between food insecurity and biodiversity degradation, and find out what’s in store for bees – our pollinators. Finally, we investigate the services nature provides for people – from cleaning our water to acting as a carbon sink – and ask whether putting a value on natural capital could help save it.
Fifty years after humans first set foot on the moon, Earth’s only permanent natural satellite is back in the news with China’s successful landing on the moon’s as-yet-unexplored far side. This month, Horizon looks at how Europe is contributing to moon research. We hear from the European Space Agency’s director of human and robotic exploration about their plans to send a robot and then humans to the lunar surface in the 2020s, and speak to the scientists trying to fill the holes in our understanding of how the moon was formed. We also hear how we could solve the puzzle of where water on Earth originated by analysing volatile substances from the moon, and take a look at the methods and facilities being developed to protect precious extra-terrestrial samples from human contamination.
Nature provides people with everything from food and water to timber, textiles, medicinal resources and pollination of crops. Now, a new approach aims to measure exactly what a specific ecosystem supplies in order to incentivise decision-makers and businesses to help combat biodiversity loss.
Europe’s position on privacy, regulation and competition could be a key way to attract entrepreneurs who share those values but there is still some work to do in encouraging ambition, according to Nicklas Bergman, a Swedish entrepreneur and technology investor. Over the past two years, he and other entrepreneurs have advised the European Commission on the design of the European Innovation Council (EIC), an initiative to support companies, researchers and entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business or scale up their projects internationally. The second phase of the pilot was launched on 18 March 2019.
To protect species, we need to speak the language of business, say experts.
He has advised the EU on its new European Innovation Council.
Species loss needs urgent international action, says Prof. Georgina Mace.