Joining forces on Earth science to benefit society

Stephen Kuper

With human activity leaving its indelible mark on the landscape and affecting the climate, our natural world is changing faster than at any other time in history. Science is fundamental to understanding environmental change so that these challenges can be tackled.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission (EC) are working to join forces to ensure a more efficient approach on Earth-system science and to bring direct benefits to society. 

We are already in the grip of global change, and in the coming decades, Earth’s growing population will place even more pressure on vital resources such as fresh water and food production. Along with the risk of further pollution, damage to ecosystems, declining biodiversity, global issues such as sea-level rise and the likelihood of more extreme weather events, there are some serious concerns to address.

Satellites orbiting high above our heads witness change and provide critical information to understand what’s going on and, ultimately, deliver the evidence needed to make informed decisions.

Since it has one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated space-based observation systems in the world, Europe has a unique opportunity to lead global efforts in addressing big environmental challenges.

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The EC’s Horizon Europe and ESA’s Future Earth Observation (FutureEO) programs both aim to provide concrete contributions to address environmental challenges.

The alignment of the scientific actions funded under both programs offers a unique opportunity for Europe to ensure that the complementary roles of both institutions serve a common purpose: to jointly advance Earth-system science and its contribution to responding to the global challenges that society faces.

Sharing this vision, the EC’s deputy director general for research and innovation, Patrick Child, and ESA’s director of Earth observation programs, Josef Aschbacher, are working to advance their existing co-operation in the field of science and research and towards the definition of a joint Earth-system science initiative.

Child said, “By working together, ESA and the EC will be able to shape better how we contribute to the challenges of achieving a sustainable Europe by 2030 and goals set in the 2015 Paris agreement on climate.”

Aschbacher added, “It is so important that environmental and climatic issues are tackled before it’s too late. Here in Europe, we are well placed to make a real difference. We have the infrastructure and the expertise and we are thrilled to strengthen our cooperation with the EC to further Earth-system science.”

 

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