Brussels, 28 May 2003
The European Science Foundation (ESF) has called for the establishment of a 'global change board' to ensure a more collaborative approach to research into earth system science in Europe.
The recommendation is made in the recently published Forward Look report entitled 'Global problems, global, science - Europe's contribution to global research'. The report focuses on the multidisciplinary and international nature of global change research, suggesting that due to the scale and complexity of scientific questions related to global change, unprecedented global collaboration between scientists from a broad range of disciplines, both in the natural sciences and in the social sciences, is necessary. At the same time, it notes that the requirements for infrastructures for global change research increasingly extend beyond the capabilities of a single nation.
The report also refers to the European Research Area (ERA), noting that in order to apply such a concept to earth system science, a science-driven and policy relevant body is required that is capable of bringing together players such as scientific experts, ESF, the European Commission and its framework programmes, and other agencies at European and national level.
Some of the tasks of the board, according to the report, would include identifying barriers to international scientific collaboration imposed by national and European funding mechanisms; proposing alternative solutions in situations where existing instruments and mechanisms fail; facilitating dialogue between the scientific community and the public on questions concerning global change; and initiating sustainable scientific efforts.
Another area in which the proposed board could play an important role is in the development of global monitoring of environment and security (GMES) initiatives in Europe. Considering how crucial data monitoring is for research into global change, the report suggests that the proposed board could ensure that closer collaboration between the scientific community, the science funding agencies and the bodies operating the monitoring systems, is maintained.
Other recommendations made by the report include developing cost effective and access-for-all databases for social science research within earth system science, and investing in the human resources necessary for the development of global change research. Of the latter, the report calls on European science funding agencies to stimulate multidisciplinary science projects among young scientists and develop multilateral efforts to support capacity building at an earlier stage in researchers' careers.
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