Last week, the European Commission awarded a grant worth € 2.2 million to a consortium including the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen Faculty of Arts. The goal of the project EU-PolarNet. Connecting Science with Society is to work with academic and societal partners from sixteen different European countries to develop a research programme for the polar regions. This also involves collaboration with institutes in Canada, Russia and the United States.
Arctic Centre coordinator Annette Scheepstra has been closely involved with the application process. She says, ‘This is the first project in the European research programme to be entirely oriented towards polar research. It’s quite exceptional that there is particular attention for the human element, both within the research itself and by including Arctic peoples in the research. There has been little funding for this in the past. Thankfully, polar research is paying more and more attention to the human side, alongside a focus on climate research, for example. We are proud to have been specially asked to be a partner in this consortium thanks to our expertise in the human element.’
The consortium will use the grant over the next five years not only to arrange visits between the institutions, but also to organize meetings with stakeholders in the various countries. The eventual goal is to set a research agenda to give direction to European polar research in the coming decades. This research agenda is expected to lead to funded research programmes, and to contribute to attaining the European climate goals.
The project is being funded by the European framework programme Horizon2020, which will run between 2014 and 2020 and has a budget of € 70 billion. This framework programme funds ‘free’ academic research as well as socially challenging research, for example in the fields of energy, health, security and climate.
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