Running from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of just over €70 billion, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020 (HOR2020) aims to tackle societal challenges by helping to bridge the gap between research and the market by, for instance, helping innovative companies to develop their technological breakthroughs into viable products with high commercial potentials. This market-driven approach is fostered by creating partnerships between European private and public sectors, either research and innovation centres, decision-makers and stakeholders.
This approach is also developed by the European Technological Platform on Industrial Safety, ETPIS. ETPIS addresses safety of industrial installations and production systems. It deals with occupational health and safety of the workers in industry, environmental safety, and the prevention of major accidents with off-site consequences. Since July 2013, ETPIS has been recognized as a cross-ETP initiative where safety dimension should be present in all innovations but also in every industrial installation, in every production system, and more generally in the overall environment.
The environmental safety, which covers Environment and Health (E-H) topics, is only addressed indirectly in the first call of H2020 (period 2014-2015), through cross-cutting topics (in the Health, Demographic Change and Well being societal challenge mainly). In order to promote R&D on Environment & Health topics and to structure the interested stakeholders, ETPIS and INERIS organized this European workshop. About 30 participants from research, industry and the European Commission shared Information on various running projects, research priorities and research initiatives on topics such as endocrine disrupters, exposome approaches, indoor air quality and human biomonitoring.
The participants identified a clear need for a common language synthesizing the views of scientists, experts, industry and NGOs on Environment & Health topics. For example, economic and competitive advantages of E-H research through avoidance of Environment & Health costs and through upstream design of more successful -because safer- products should be stressed.
A European strategic research agenda is also strongly needed on these topics. It could be elaborated thanks to a multipartite collaborative process gathering the scientific and technological challenges identified by research organizations, industry, policy makers and NGOs.
ETPIS appears as a right umbrella for such Environment & Health topics because:
- it includes scientists, experts and industrials;
- as a cross-ETPIS initiative on industrial safety, it is strongly linked to sectorial and thematic ETPs and can promote an integrated approach for risk management combining all issues related to the uses of hazardous substances.
Besides, ETPIS can build on its past experience of developing a strategic research agenda for industrial safety.
The participants decided to create a ETPIS working group dedicated to Environment & Health topics. The first task of this working group will be to develop a strategic research agenda. This initiative was welcomed by the representatives of the European Commission (DG Environment, DG Research and Innovation - Directorates for Industrial Technologies and for Health). This working group will be open to all stakeholders. Its work will be coordinated by Emmanuel Lemazurier (INERIS). Next steps will be:
- the redaction of the objectives, and scope of work and roadmap of the working group;
- the invitation to all interested stakeholders to join this initiative;
- the collection and selection of main topics through a participative process (survey).
The working group will also explore the possibility of integrating (part of) its activity in a COST initiative on the topic “coordinating research action on Environment & Health”.