Aligning EU research funding with key sustainability challenges

Research and innovation are key drivers of sustainable transformation. At European level, the Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation play an important role. With a view to the tenth framework program (FP10), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has held a workshop with experts in order to gain recommendations for the future direction of EU sustainability research.

On February 19 and 20, 2024, the BMBF hosted a workshop with the motto "Research for a sustainable Europe: Challenges and ideas on the horizon" in Bonn. Around 30 experts from science, industry, civil society and administration discussed how the successor program to Horizon Europe should be designed to maximize its impact for sustainable transformation. The recently completed results paper is intended to serve as input for a German position on the design of FP10 in the area of sustainability research.

The results paper identifies twelve key points for effective sustainability research:

  • Prioritise sustainability challenges
  • Approach sustainable transformation holistically
  • Effective sustainability research requires close cooperations
  • Further strengthen transfer to application
  • Global challenges demand international cooperation
  • Expand openness for diverse solution approaches
  • Further develop criteria for research assessment with a view to societal impact
  • Simplify procedures
  • Support new target groups in terms of creativity
  • Design permeable and innovation accelerating funding measures and structures
  • Further develop Partnerships and Missions
  • Extend interaction between regional, national and EU funding

Important environmental and climate-related topics with an urgent need for research are:

  • Governance for sustainability
  • Digitalization, data and AI for sustainability
  • Water security for humans and environment
  • Circular economy and material flows
  • Understanding social transformation through transdisciplinary research
  • Multifunctional land use: Connecting nutrition, biodiversity and climate protection

The results paper sets out the key points and describes the research objectives and added value of European cooperation along the thematic areas.