Sixth Framework Programme : sustainable development, global change and ecosystems

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Sixth Framework Programme : sustainable development, global change and ecosystems

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Sixth Framework Programme : sustainable development, global change and ecosystems


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Research and innovation > General framework

Sixth Framework Programme (2000-2006): sustainable development, global change and ecosystems

This programme aims to strengthen necessary scientific and technological capacity by integrating environmental, economic and social objectives, in particular with regard to renewable energy sources, transport and the sustainable management of terrestrial and marine resources in Europe.

Document or Iniciative

Council decision 2002/835/EC of 30 September 2002 adopting a specific programme for research, technological development and demonstration: “structuring the European Research Area” (2002-2006) [Official Journal L 294 of 29.10.2002].



Considerable progress has been made in the field of environmental sciences and technologies, making it possible to strengthen the scientific and social basis for introducing sustainable development.

In this context, the European Union (EU) promotes developments in scientific knowledge and its application through the funding available under the Framework Programmes for research, and with coordination work in connection with the European Research Area.

Current methods of research in life science, agronomy, the exploitation of marine resources, developments in the information society, transport, novel materials, industrial technology, energy, in short, in all areas of development today, are becoming increasingly eco-friendly.

The European strategy focuses on the need to ensure the dissemination or exploitation of the results of environmental research, with a view to changing habits regarding energy consumption and mobility, and achieving a more rational use of natural resources.

The budget of the 6th Framework Programme for this priority is 2 120 million euros, with action focussing on the following three main areas:

Renewable energy sources

An energy policy for sustainable development must both meet the growing need for energy, and prevent climate change. Research is being carried out in the EU to develop new energy vectors and converters such as hydrogen, fuel cells and photovoltaic cells. Community research is centred on:

  • the technological development and integration of renewable sources in all aspects of energy supply (storage, distribution, use);
  • energy and efficiency savings, including the use of primary renewable energy sources;
  • the development of alternative fuels;
  • the development and application of fuel cells;
  • improving transport and storage technology, in particular hydrogen technology;
  • reducing CO2 emissions by using cleaner fossil fuel installations.

Sustainable inland transport

Sustainable development in the field of transport is closely linked to European citizens’ quality of life. In this context, the Commission’s Green Paper on security of energy supply and White Paper on transport policy place the spotlight on energy and on transport, the sources of over 80% of total greenhouse gas emissions and over 90% of CO2 emissions. The transport sector is likely to see the largest increase in energy use, with a 16% rise expected by 2010. Research is being carried out into:

  • new technologies and new concepts for inland transport, including propulsion systems and the use of fuel cells;
  • advanced design and production techniques to improve quality, safety, recylability, comfort and economy;
  • the stability, integration and interoperability of modes of transport at urban and regional level;
  • increasing safety and combating urban congestion using electronic and telematic solutions, as well as advanced satellite navigation systems.

Global change and ecosystems

On the one hand, the aim of research financed in this field is to improve the understanding, detection and prediction of global change and develop the necessary prevention, mitigation and adaptation strategies in close cooperation with international research programmes, and in the framework of international conventions.

On the other hand, the research also aims to protect biodiversity and preserve ecosystems, which should contribute to the sustainable use of land and marine resources. Efforts to ensure the integrated and sustainable use of farm and forest ecosystems are particularly important for the conservation of such ecosystems and sustainable development as a whole in Europe. Research work is focused on:

  • reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from different energy sectors, transport, industry and agriculture, and assessing solutions offered by carbon sinks (oceans, forests, earth);
  • ozone depletion;
  • the water cycle;
  • our understanding and protection of land and marine biodiversity and genetic resources, and the sustainable management of human intervention in ecosystems;
  • land management, in particular the integrated development of coastal zones, and integrated approaches for different land uses in agriculture and forestry;
  • the mechanisms of desertification and the prediction of natural catastrophes;
  • prediction and modelling techniques, in particular of climate change;
  • risk assessment and methods of assessing environmental quality.


Act Date
of entry into force
Final date for implementation in the Member States
Decision 1513/2002/EC Application date: 01.01.2003
Expiry date: 31.12.2006

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