The conference – organised in cooperation with the Czech Presidency of the EU – will celebrate the multiple ways through which European research contributes to global sustainable development: improved understanding of the environment, technological solutions, changing mindsets and behaviours, bearing in mind that it is also at the roots of unsustainable trends. The Research DG is seeking to gather scientists, industry, civil society and R&D policy-makers to confront their views and stakes regarding what R&D can and cannot do for sustainability. This will be a key input to further R&D policy-making at EU level.
Putting European R&D at the service of sustainable development is indeed needed from a societal point of view. There is rising concern about the relationship between science and society. Today's surveys show that Europeans have become less attracted by science or less confident that science brings solutions. If the level of public funding for research is to be maintained and indeed increased, it must be ensured and demonstrated that research is bringing value to the citizens, on substantial and tangible issues beyond competitiveness and jobs. Moreover, in today's interdependent world international scientific cooperation opens opportunities for win-win situations and more robust answers as our societies are making efforts to adjust to changing conditions.
Coming close to mid-term of FP7 implementation, this 3-day conference will take stock of the progress made so far and identify ways and means for putting the European research system at the service of sustainable development.