EU conference on research agenda for the environment, climate and health – Örebro University as host

“We need to move away from simplistic lines of reasoning as to the underlying causes of the challenges we are facing in today’s society,” says Åke Bergman, professor of environmental chemistry at Örebro University.
With Sweden holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, the third conference on the EU research agenda for the environment, climate and health, was last week held in Stockholm with Åke Bergman at the helm.

“We need to adopt a systemic perspective, where Sweden and the EU can take the lead in developing solutions for managing the integrated multiple crises that face humanity, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and health risks,” says Åke Bergman.

Jointly hosted by Örebro University, the Swedish Chemicals Agency, the research council Formas and the Health Environment Research Agenda for Europe, HERA, the conference gathered policy-makers, scientists and business representatives. The preceding two conferences were held in France and Czech Republic during the two countries’ respective presidencies in 2022.

Åke Bergman and Johan Kuylenstierna.

Åke Bergman and Johan Kuylenstierna, Director General of Formas, both have long experience of working with questions relating to climate and the environment.

“The purpose of this conference was to make decision-makers at all levels of society aware of the need for a broader perspective across research, policy and decision-making,” says Frans Prenkert, professor of business administration at Örebro University and chair of the university’s Platform for a Sustainable Future, one of the co-organisers of the conference.

“The challenges facing our communities are extraordinarily complex and interlinked and need to be managed accordingly. Research and policies that take a holistic approach to these issues are needed if we are to achieve a sustainable future.”

Per Ängquist

After a welcome address by Vice-Chancellor Johan Schnürer, Per Ängquist, director general of the Swedish Chemicals Agency, introduced the theme for the day.

The morning programme included two panel discussions. The first dealt with biodiversity, climate and pollution and how society by engaging with research can identify solutions that work for all three areas.

The panel on stage.

Riikka Paloniemi, the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke), Manolis Kogevinas, Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Johan Kuylenstierna, Formas, Gerardo Sanchez, European Environment Agency, Jana Klánová, Masaryk University, Czech Republic. Moderator Kateřina Šebková, National Centre of Toxic Compounds, Czech Republic.

The second looked at sustainable material flows and renewable energy technology in a modern circular economy, where we need a much better understanding of the side-effects of material extraction and processing of, for instance, battery minerals, to avoid the risk of unwanted harmful effects on health, society and the environment.

Panel two on stage.

Shane Colgan, the European Environmental Agency EEA, Samuel Carrara, European Commission, Elin Bergman, Cradlenet, Magnus Ericsson, Luleå University of Technology and moderator Kateřina Šebková.

“The panels discussed the need for a holistic approach to meet the EU’s ambitious goals, but also the risks involved in a reductionist approach and regulations that hinder the development towards a sustainable future,” says Åke Bergman.

He has worked for the UN and the EU, headed up EU-projects and contributed to developing EU’s new framework for research on sustainable environment, climate and health for 2021-2030. Efforts that now continue within the network Single Planet HERA (SPHERA).

After lunch, the SPHERA network converged to take the results from the conference further with the aim of setting up a European think tank for research policy.

“After this, we will further the efforts within SPHERA and pass the baton over to Spain as they embark on their presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 July,” says Frans Prenkert.

Vice-chancellor and Jana talks.

Vice-chancellor Johan Schnürer and Jana Klánová, expert on pollution and honorary doctor at Örebro University.