Collaboration in research to help tackle the challenges in environment and health and their policy implications in Europe
A unique network for Environment and Health research in Europe - joining forces and resources to increase the relevance and efficiency of environment and health research in Europe.
There is long-standing evidence of the environmental causes of certain human diseases. Although this relationship is considered to be clear in some cases, many environmental sources of "hazards" that are currently poorly understood remain to be characterised, and are the focus of many scientific studies. The EU Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010 identified the need to strengthen interactions between researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders in environmental health.
To this end, the European Commission co-funded the creation of the ERA-NET scheme with the aim of providing targeted support to the coordination and mutual opening of national and regional research programmes. The goal of the scheme was also to establish long-term cooperation between the national programmes in order to achieve joint transnational research programmes. Given this situation, a network of European research planning organisations in the field of environmental health was established by ANSES in 2008 with EU funding for 4 years. The network created continues since to collaborate striving towards better integrating environment and health research in policy and increasing the visibility of environment and health issues and their importance for policy by facilitating cross-sectoral exchange.
ERA-ENVHEALTH is an active transnational network including stakeholders in the Environment and Health field. It is also an innovative forum for all actors in environment and health to discuss challenges, visions and emerging issues. After years of close collaboration and cooperation, the network has become valuable for the Members and stakeholders in the environment and health sector at large, and in particular for research, by:
- Increasing the visibility of environment and health in Europe and providing a voice for a European perspective on environment and health priorities and research in Europe
- Providing access to a forum to discuss public policies, priorities and strategic visions of the challenges in environment and health research and how to tackle these
- Providing access to a unique source of information including national research results and visions
- Promoting exchange and collaboration among the different actors involved in environment and health and trying to bring research closer to policy
- Enabling the optimisation and pooling of resources, in particular joint calls for research, and providing opportunities for joint work on topics of common interest
- Disseminating relevant information (newsflash, conferences…)
Achievements of the ERA-ENVHEALTH project
During four years of EU-funded collaboration, the network partners pooled their resources and shared their knowledge to help improve the scope and effectiveness of environment and health research in Europe. A number of reports were published (available at www.era-envhealth.eu), including:
- The research landscape on environmental health in Europe
- Strategic and emerging themes and prioritisation
- Creating the link between science and public policy – Improving knowledge transfer: a guide for researchers
A "research" database with information on 40 organisations, 50 programmes, and more than 500 projects was also developed.
Like all ERA-NETs, ERA-ENVHEALTH worked towards launching joint calls for transnational research projects and funded three projects covering different European countries for a total of about 4 million euro. Two calls for transnational projects were launched:
- The first in 2008 with 3 partners on "Climate change, the environment and human health”. - Total co-funding: € 2.8M. 2 projects funded.
- The second in 2012 with 5 partners on "Air pollution in urban areas - health impacts on vulnerable groups under changing conditions". Co-funding: € 1.35M
The final conference of the project took place in Paris on 13-14 June 2012. Nearly 200 people from 16 countries participated to identify research priorities and outcomes expected from European research in environmental health, as well as the approaches that would enable better use of science in public policy.
ERA-ENVHEALTH brought dynamism to environmental and health research in Europe by promoting collaboration and innovative ideas, and increasing the visibility of environment and health as a key area for research.
For more information on the FP7-funded ERA-ENVHEALTH project see: www.era-envhealth.eu
The ERA-ENVHEALTH network
The project funded under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission ended on 31/12/2012 and led to the launch of the ERA-ENVHEALTH network.
The ERA-ENVHEALTH consortium is a unique network for research in environmental health in Europe, both through the variety of stakeholders involved and the diversity of the countries represented, and also by its innovative and multisectoral approach. It provides a single forum to discuss future challenges, visions and emerging themes in the environment and health domain. Despite the discontinuation of European funding, the members have chosen to maintain the network and its activities continue focusing on information exchange, communication and implementation of joint activities such as seminars, workshops..., expanding to other organisations wishing to join the network.
An annual open conference is organised and a biannual newsletter is disseminated.