“EE meets EP” – Helmholtz Program “Earth and Environment” meets European Parliament

A delegation of researchers from seven Helmholtz centers traveled to Brussels to engage with political and other stakeholders around the European Union

Our research always aims to benefit society and environment, but there is no general answer to the question how this can be practically achieved. However, two important prerequisites are (1) to synthesize research outcomes to make them applicable, and (2) to communicate results to stakeholders and decision makers and enter a dialogue. SynCom (https://earthenvironment.helmholtz.de/changing-earth/syncom/) of the Helmholtz research field “Earth and Environment” supports these two aspects by promoting networking across the Helmholtz program “Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future” and exchange with stakeholders, e.g. in politics.

In this context, Helmholtz SynCom and a delegation comprising selected scientists from the seven Helmholtz Centers in the field Earth and Environment (AWI, FZJ, GEOMAR, GFZ, Hereon, KIT, UFZ) traveled to Brussels in December 2023, to engage in an exchange of ideas with the European Parliament and various stakeholders. Dr. Martina Klose, head of the Helmholtz Young Investigator Group on Mineral Dust at IMKTRO, participated as KIT delegate. The excursion was extended upon the invitation of Niklas Nienaß, Member of the European Parliament (MEP). The program included, amongst other things, meetings with Jutta Paulus, MEP, representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DG DEFIS), the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and subsequent to the trip with the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Group picture with MEP Niklas Nienaß and Stella Schübel.
Presentation by Dr. Martina Klose during the meeting with Dušan Chrenek
of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Climate Action

During each of the stakeholder exchanges, the researchers from the seven centers each briefly presented current research topics, after which the Helmholtz delegation learned from the stakeholders about current policy topics and processes, concluded by a discussion evolving around open questions. Topics included, for example, methane and PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ legislation, digital transformation, climate interventions, including cloud brightening and stratospheric aerosol injection, or how to better communicate research findings to MEPs, given that efficient policy-making hinges on evidence-based strategies. The commitment of the European Union to continue to implement ambitious Earth observation programs to support evidence- and science-based policy decisions was of great interest to the delegation as those data is crucial to quantify environmental change and therefore a fundamental input for Earth sciences. Besides the meetings with stakeholders, the delegation also had the opportunity to listen to committee meetings of the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research, Telecoms & Energy (ITRE) and the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), and to attend the lunch debate “Copernicus Data at the Service of the EU Arctic Policy”.

“The trip to Brussels organized by SynCom was a great opportunity to meet with stakeholders at and around the European Parliament. I learned a lot about how policies are developed and in what way we as researchers may engage in this development. I will definitely consider this in my future research.” reports M. Klose. ”And of course I very much enjoyed the exchange with my colleagues from the other Helmholtz Centers and SynCom.”

Meeting room visit during the tour through the European Parliament.

It was evident that there is significant interest among the different parties in engaging with scientific endeavors. Determining the most effective means of communicating scientific findings to stakeholders remains important and a key challenge. The trip “EE meets EP” provided valuable insights in this regard and facilitated informative discussions with stakeholders from the European Parliament and various organizations in Brussels.

From Dr. Martina Klose (KIT) based on detailed report from Dr. Marylou Athanase (AWI), Dr. Alison Beamish (GFZ), Dr. Séverine Furst (GEOMAR), David Mengen (FZJ) and further delegation members.

Detailed report: https://earthenvironment.helmholtz.de/assets/changing_earth/user_upload/Brussels2023_EEmeetsEP_report.pdf

Helmholtz Delegation handout: https://earthenvironment.helmholtz.de/assets/changing_earth/user_upload/SynCom_Brussels2023_EEmeetsEP_handout.pdf