Commission to seek more developing country links at sustainable development summit

July 9, 2002

Brussels, 08 July 2002

The European Commission will use the World summit on sustainable development (WSSD) to explore ways of increasing the participation of developing country researchers in EU research projects, according to Christian Patermann, Director of the Research DG's 'preserving the ecosystem: research actions for the environment' directorate, speaking at the University of East Anglia, UK, at the beginning of July.

The Commission will take a number of 'concrete proposals and projects' to Johannesburg, South Africa for the 'Science forum' meeting organised by the South African government to run in parallel to the main WSSD meeting on 2 and 3 September

Mr Patermann highlighted the fact that 'sustainable development' is one of the Commission's thematic priorities in the Sixth Framework programme (FP6), and that FP6 will also operate on a cost sharing basis to researchers from outside the EU.

'This is something of a revolution,' said Mr Patermann. 'It means an enormous leap forward. We will have to do a lot to find the right customers, colleagues and partners.'

Mr Patermann said that the Commission is participating in the Science forum to promote the role of science and technology in sustainable development, demonstrate the openness of FP6 and the European research area (ERA) to the rest of the world and to gain an understanding of developing countries' needs in this area.

'We feel that we can offer a lot in these areas, and see important brokerage possibilities with our colleagues in the Third World,' said Mr Patermann. 'We want to bring a variety of very concrete proposals and projects to Johannesburg to show what can be done. In addition, I can be pretty sure that there is also a lot of adaptive innovation in these countries that the 'North' can learn from,' said Mr Patermann.

Meanwhile the lack of science in the preparations for the WSSD has been criticised by Jonathon Poritt, chair of the UK Commission on sustainable development. 'Science plays no part in most of the policies being promulgated by the World trade organisation and many national governments,' said Mr Poritt at a briefing on the WSSD in London on 1 July. This point was echoed by Tony Juniper, director designate of Friends of the Earth: 'Science is not what is driving the summit, but rather domestic political issues. There is a disconnection between politics and science,' he said.

For further information on the World summit on sustainable development, please consult the following web address: http://www.johannesburgsummit.org

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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