EASAC Newsletter July 2016

News | Latest publications | Programme updates Energy Biosciences Environment | Upcoming Events


EASAC’S 15th Anniversary Celebration at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of EASAC – the network of the National Science Academies of the EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland – a special event took place on 11-12 May 2016, just ahead of the Spring 2016 EASAC Council Meeting. The event was hosted by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo and keynote speakers were Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Edvard Moser (Trondheim, NO) and Professor William J. Sutherland (Cambridge, UK). Read more...

At the celebration, an EASAC Anniversary Booklet was presented. It contains two essays on EASAC’s history and on its contribution to independent science-based advice at EU level, together with a list of all EASAC reports and statements and publications in science journals.

Joint Statement by EASAC and FEAM Presidents on Antimicrobial Resistance

Based on EASAC’s activities in the field of antimicrobial resistance over many years, a joint statement has been drafted by the EASAC President together with the President of FEAM – the Federation of European Academies of Medicine – in response to the recent report “Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally” by the O’Neill Commission. Read more...

EASAC Letter to Jean Claude Juncker on COP21

As an outcome of discussions between EASAC’s three Steering Panels (Environment, Energy, and Biosciences) in May 2016, a letter was sent to Jean Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, in which EASAC re-emphasised earlier science-based recommendations of relevance to European climate policies in the light of the commitments made at COP21 in Paris. Read more...

Latest publications

Commentary on Circular Economy

The Circular Economy has been a controversial issue since the Juncker Commission cancelled previous 2014 proposals and undertook to issue a new Circular Economy package by the end of 2015. In response, EASAC set up a working group of scientists and economists to provide inputs from the natural and social sciences to the debate on the principles and objectives of the European Commission’s policy. The result was an EASAC commentary on the Circular Economy which includes a detailed discussion from natural and social science perspectives of the underlying issues. Read more...

Report on Marine Sustainability in an Age of Changing Oceans and Seas

For several years, EASAC’s member academies wanted to contribute to the European debate on marine sustainability. To this end, they joined forces with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and recently published a report on “Marine Sustainability in an Age of Changing Oceans and Seas”. Oceans and seas play a crucial role in regulating our climate, nurturing biodiversity, and providing income and food to people around the world. At COP21, governments across the globe agreed that a more aggressive limit for global warming has to be set. This limit is one essential step toward a more stable relationship between the oceans and seas and the world’s climate. The report, which was published jointly by EASAC and the JRC, claims that in spite of this positive direction, marine sustainability faces many challenges. Read more...

Statement on Greenhouse Gas Footprints of Different Oil Feedstocks

In future, road transport will be required to make a stronger contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union. How to account for the different greenhouse gas footprints of transport fuels derived from different sources of fossil oil feedstock is a contentious issue and was extensively debated in the context of proposed amendments to the European Union’s Fuel Quality Directive. EASAC therefore decided to examine the issues in its latest statement. Read more...

Programme updates

Biosciences Programme

Continued work on “Gain of Function”

Following the launch of the EASAC Gain of Function report in October 2015, this work was presented at a symposium in Washington, DC organised by the U.S. National Academies. Senior scientists and policy-makers there expressed their “admiration” for the “ground-breaking progress” made by the EASAC report (see also full documentation of event and EASAC’s presentation). Furthermore, contributions by EASAC on the issue of gain of function experiments in virology have been published in Nature, the Journal of Virology, eLife, and International Innovation. Read more...

New project on Genome Editing

A project has been initiated to take a broad view of the science and applications related to genome editing. The first meeting of the EASAC Working Group was held on 29 June 2016 in Brussels. Among the key topics to be covered in this project are: opportunities coming within range from advances in the fundamental science and biological modelling; specific applications for human somatic, human germline, xenotransplantation, gene drive, laboratory animal models, animals in agriculture, plant breeding, micro-organisms and other applications for the bioeconomy; ethics and other societal issues; and governance, including regulatory frameworks. EASAC welcomes contributions of written evidence on any of these topics. Please provide written evidence to: info@easac.eu.

Study on Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture (European arm of IAP global project)

EASAC is one of four networks that form part of IAP, the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), the global network of all National Academies of Science and Medicine with over 130 members worldwide. IAP launched a global project in 2015, aiming to provide science-based advice to policy-makers and the public at a global level. The project wants to show how science can be engaged to promote and support food and nutrition security. This goal encompasses both 1) the better use of the scientific evidence already available to inform policy options and stimulate innovation, and 2) the identification of knowledge gaps in order to advise on research priorities to fill those gaps and improve the evidence base for public policy and resource for innovation.

The first meeting of the EASAC working group on Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture was held on 11-12 April 2016 in Brussels and participating experts contributed to a wide range of themes, including: developing integrated frameworks for public policy, animal and plant science, food science and technology, nutrition and food choices, soil science and other environmental considerations, generating and using big/open data and agricultural economics. EASAC welcomes contributions of written evidence on any of these topics. Please provide written evidence to: info@easac.eu.

Energy Programme

Project on Electricity Storage

This EASAC project focuses on grid-scale energy storage integrated into the power system (both inputs and outputs in the form of electricity) from large-scale pumped hydro storage to small-scale dedicated demand-side storage, which can be aggregated to provide grid services. The fourth and last working group meeting was held in Dublin on 23-24 March 2016, together with an open workshop to which international experts had been invited. The publication of an EASAC report with a final launch meeting in Brussels is planned for September 2016. The drafting of the report is on schedule, and its contents, main conclusions, and advice for policy makers have been discussed informally with the European Commission in Brussels on 18 May 2016.

Environment Programme

Circular Economy – Follow-up Studies on Indicators and Critical Materials

EASAC’s commentary on the implications of natural and social sciences for the design and implementation of a Circular Economy had identified four potential sub-projects, two of which coincided with specific undertakings by the Commission to develop further policy announcements by 2017. These focused on 1) the indicators that should be used in a circular economy and 2) critical materials for the circular economy. After a decision by its Council, EASAC is now working on two follow-up studies on the circular economy in these areas. Publication of the final reports is planned for autumn 2016.

Joint Programme Activities

Project on Multifunctional Forestry

The EASAC Environment and Energy Programmes are leading jointly on the project “Multifunctional Forestry”. The project was initiated by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. There have been three meetings so far of the large and diverse expert group. In addition, there was a stakeholder meeting in Brussels on 16 February 2016, which heard from several Commission directorates on their particular angle of interest in the subject. The project has been through a selection process on key policy issues and identified the main policy messages as related to: 1) forests, climate change, and carbon uptake/release 2) forest management and biodiversity 3) implications and sustainable forest management. The publication of the final report is planned for autumn 2016.


EASAC - the European Academies' Science Advisory Council - is formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States to enable them to collaborate with each other in providing advice to European policy-makers. Find Out More

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