Operational recommendations for an ERA-Net “ICT for Sustainability”

The screening of ERA-Net activities revealed the lack of a specific action dealing with ICT and sustainability as an integrated research discipline. For a fruitful observation of the dynamic progress in ICT research coupled with the identification of application areas in environmental sustainability, the support of an expert network can be beneficial to ERA. For this task the building of an ERA-Net “ICT for Sustainability” (ICT-Sustain) is recommended to support the work of DG-INFSO in the sphere of “ICT for Sustainable Growth” and to step up the cooperation and coordination of research activities carried out at national or regional level in the Member States. Simultaneously an ERA-Net of this type can be an enabler for the effort to build a SISE, a “Single Information Space in Europe for the Environment”.

From the experience of the ICT-ENSURE project a main challenge has been identified: to integrate knowledge of experts from various disciplines and find ways to exchange information in a fruitful manner. To this end, the EnviroInfo conference series is proving to be a good starting platform for ICT related and sustainability relevant EU research. Building on this and the ICT-ENSURE body of results, an open list of features and objectives that can serve as guidelines for framing a future “ICT for Sustainability” initiative can be found.

  • Foster pan-European communication between scientists, individuals in the private sector and citizens through social-web applications such as the ICT-ENSURE Xing space.
  • Support e-government, e-democracy and e-participation efforts with e-Environment developments
  • Be fully aware of the dynamic development of SEIS “Towards a Shared Environmental Information System.
  • Maintain the ICT-ENSURE information systems as an updated overview of ICT tools and trends: The Research Programmes Information System and the Literature Database to provide free access to full text paper resources of the environmental sustainability community
  • Develop and provide multilingual tools for information access. As a basis the European multilingual thesaurus GEMET and the UDK-Thesaurus (in German and English) could be used.
  • Concerning knowledge and information services and search facilities: Making environmental policies understandable to all stakeholders and supporting outreach for participation in enactment, including eLearning environments such as role-playing and serious games and taking multi-lingual and accessibility issues into account.
  • Discussions with experts during the project events raised the issue that a link between different DG’s would facilitate information exchange and the implementation of interdisciplinary programmes. As an example on a national scale: A steering committee with members of
    involved organisations has successfully supported the continuous development of the environmental information system in Baden-Württemberg (Germany) for two decades.
  • Build a group of independent experts from various disciplines to continue the further development of the ICT-ENSURE project regarding interdisciplinary cooperation and further development of a structured ERA “ICT for sustainability”.
  • Identify further experienced experts from EU organisations (EEA, JRC, other agencies) and EU programmes (FP7, CIP, EIT etc.) to support cooperation and future developments
  • Include experienced experts from Member States, joint programmes and organisations(COST, ERAwatch, ESF etc.) and intensify mutual information exchange between programmes and projects and develop meta-information of the results