Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Turning the tide on environmental degradation

30.05.2003


The EU examines ways to reverse damage in the Mediterranean and Black Seas



Fifty years of intense development and exploitation have resulted in significant change to the fragile natural resources of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and their coastal areas. Agreeing ways to prevent further environmental degradation will be the focus of the “International Conference on the Sustainable Development of the Mediterranean and Black Sea Environment” (IASON), to be held from 28 May to 1June in Thessaloniki (Greece), sponsored by the Greek Presidency and the European Commission. The conference will devise sustainable strategies for managing and preserving marine ecosystems, also taking into consideration economic and social factors. The event aims to strengthen the scientific and technological collaboration between the European Union and countries in the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, in particular candidate countries. Researchers and policy-makers will address a range of related issues such as climate change, sustainable land use and coastal management, bio-diversity, biotechnology, the impact of human activities, sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and environmental economy.

“The time has come for co-ordinated European action to turn the tide on environmental threats,” said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. “For too long, we have exploited the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas, without considering the eventual consequences of our actions. We must invest in integrated programmes of research to deliver sustainable development solutions and long-term environmental protection for the benefit of our future generations.”


A constant degradation

Enclosed seas are more sensitive to human pressures than the open ocean. Amongst such enclosed seas the Mediterranean Sea and its adjacent basin, the Black Sea, experience the severe impact of human activities, due to the population expansion of the last 50 years, urban growth, tourism, intensive agriculture and pollution, eutrophication, soil degradation, disposal of industrial and domestic waste and desertification. Rivers feeding into the Black Sea are increasingly polluted as the 17 countries in the region become more industrialised.

Strained natural resources

Between 1973 and 1990, 60 million tonnes of bottom-living animals were found dead, including 5 000 tonnes of fish. The sewage systems of over 10 million people drain into the Black Sea and its environs. Over 100 000 tonnes of oil are transported via the Black Sea every year. Heavy flooding in central Europe last year caused significant damage to the river Danube and, in turn, to the coastal regions of the Black Sea. Ecological deterioration in this region is also a growing concern for scientists, governments and the public at large.

In the Black Sea regions the effect of human activities is accompanied by changes in natural and climatic conditions, causing dramatic changes in the ecosystem and natural resources. In recent years there has been an alarming 80 % reduction in the total number of fish caught, with only six out of the 26 species of fish caught commercially in the 1960’s remaining in exploitable quantities. Sustainable development of these regions is of strategic importance for the European Union, especially in view of its enlargement.



However there is no consistent information for the two regions that could help tackle these issues and develop policies and strategies for sustainable development. According to a report on the marine environment in the Mediterranean Sea and its coastal zone, a dearth of comparable and reliable data was listed as one of the major concerns by its authors. The report, prepared by the European Environment Agency and the UN Environment Programme – in co-operation with the European Tropical Centre and Mediterranean Action Plan – called for more multidisciplinary research to determine with more certainty how Europe’s marine ecosystems is holding up.

EU action to preserve fragile eco-systems

The EU, through its recently adopted Sixth Environment Action Plan, aims therefore to promote the adoption of policies and approaches that contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in Europe, including the candidate countries.

Innovative and interdisciplinary approaches should be used to define, prioritise and propose future actions to address environmental problems of the Mediterranean and Black Seas and estimate their environmental thresholds. Modern methods for the dissemination of information, including the establishment of Internet fora for interactive involvement should be at the heart of these activities. The involvement of stakeholders from the private and public sectors, and the end-users from the business, industrial and policy-making communities will be essential.

The need for more research

In the past, several environmental research projects of the European Commission (EROS 21, Mediterranean Targeted Project, ARENA, MAMA, INTERPOL, CYCLOPS) and of other international organisations focussed on the different aspects of the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean environment but mostly in a fragmented way. The diverse trans-national and multidisciplinary environmental problems need to be assessed in an integrated way, leading to solutions and policy actions to feed into long-lasting strategies for sustainable development.

Several sessions of the conference will be devoted to sustainability, marine environmental problems, as well as a range of research and technology issues – informed by the EU’s research objectives and its current 6th Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006). Themes to be covered include climate change and related processes; sustainable land use and coastal management; bio-diversity changes; biotechnology towards environmental sustainability; impact of human activities; sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; thresholds of environmental sustainability; and environmental economy.

EU R&D projects

EROS 21 looked into the bio-geochemical interactions between the Danube River and the northwestern Black Sea. The Mediterranean Targeted Project (MTP) showed evidence of human-induced rapid changes, such as in surface temperature and in salinity, that could profoundly influence the functioning of the Mediterranean Sea, and therefore the climate of the region, over the next few decades. ARENA is a regional capacity-building and networking programme to upgrade monitoring and forecasting activity in the Black Sea Basin.

MAMA aims to establish a Mediterranean network to assess and upgrade monitoring and forecasting of human activity in the region, and its impact on land and seaside resources. The Mediterranean coastal zones experience intense trawling activity and severe storm surges inducing significant resuspension-release of nutrients, pollutants and toxic elements: INTERPOL looked into the impact of natural and trawling events on resuspension, dispersion and fate of pollutants. CYCLOPS studied the formation and cycling of phosphorus in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The conference

The meeting’s welcome addresses will be given by A. Tzohatzopoulos, Greek Minister of Development, Mr. G. Paschalidis Greek Minister of Macedonia and Thrace. Introductory speeches will be given by the Director General of the Commission’s Research Directorate-General, Mr A. Mitsos, and the Secretary of State for scientific and technological research of Greece Mr. M. Deniozos.

Greece is the only EU Member State situated in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. During its presidency it has given emphasis to the environmental problem of this region and their social and economic context in the perspective of sustainable development, which is amongst the Presidency’s priorities as part of the implementation of the Lisbon process.

Expected results of the conference

The conference aims to create a lasting platform for discussion and solutions for environmental sustainability problems between private and public stakeholders in the spirit of the European Research Area (ERA), as well as to identify operational methods and tools for decision-making.

Fabio Fabbi | European Commission
Further information:
http://www.iasonnet.gr/materials/registration.html
http://www.eu2003.gr/en/
http://www.cordis.lu/sustdev/environment/home.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>