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EIROforum statement on Earth Day 2021

visual for earth dayThe theme of Earth Day 2021 is ‘Restore Our Earth’. Last year, despite significant slowdowns in global economic and social activity due to the pandemic, only a short, sharp reduction of -7.7% in carbon emissions was observed in Europe, compared to 2019. The impact of the coronavirus has captured much of our attention over the past year and in most parts of the world we are yet to restore day-to-day life. However, this has not diminished the threat that our planet faces from human activity, and the world must urgently focus its attention on the environmental challenges that remain to be solved. The rapidly accelerating loss of biodiversity across the globe and the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly visible. In our cities, air pollution continues to threaten lives and demonstrates how closely the health of the environment is linked to human well-being.

Thanks to state-of-the-art scientific knowledge and exceptional research efforts, the development of vaccines to counter COVID-19 happened far more rapidly than expected, illustrating what can be achieved through global scientific collaboration, collective focus, and investment in research. A path out of the pandemic is in sight and as we emerge, we have an opportunity to exploit this same drive across society to fight the threats that our Earth is facing.

On the heels of the extraordinary achievements of life sciences research in mobilising to fight the pandemic, it is crucial to recognise how the scientific community is also tackling environmental challenges – conducting fundamental research that will equip us with the tools to halt the damage to our planet and find solutions to restore it. Through advanced monitoring and analysis of the natural world, we are advancing our capabilities to protect the environment every day. From world-leading environmental science, geological research and Earth observation to the development of state-of-the-art materials and new, clean energy sources, the research and datasets produced by the EIROforum communities give us a foundation on which to build technologies that not only mitigate the impact of climate change, but also help us protect the Earth’s ecosystems, including human populations around the world vulnerable to a wide array of environmental threats.

The members of EIROforum also recognise that there is work to be done closer to home. All EIROforum organisations are developing ways to minimise the environmental impact of their scientific research and associated activities. Such considerations will be especially important as it becomes possible for the global scientific community to travel and access our facilities again, and also more broadly with regards scientific meetings and conferences. The potential to contribute to solutions that improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and eliminate reliance on non-renewable sources, thus helping mitigate climate change, are strong factors in decisions now being made across all of our organisations.

In the year that the long-awaited COP26 climate change conference will take place, we encourage scientists around the world to continue drawing attention to the importance of sustainable research and to get involved with the mission of Earth Day 2021.

The Directors General of CERN, EMBL, ESA, ESO, ESRF, EUROfusion, European XFEL, and ILL.

NLDC and EIROforum meeting - Teaser image

Joint Statement by the EIROforum Council and the National Laboratory Directors’ Council

The National Laboratory Directors’ Council and the EIROforum Council held a remote meeting on 13 January, 2021, to discuss general areas for stronger collaboration including the scientific response to the present COVID-19 pandemic. They affirmed their common commitment to explore collaboration avenues and sharing of best practices.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates what many of us hold as a firm belief: scientific knowledge and its transformation into technological and healthcare know-how, are our best tools to control and master any kind of sanitary threat.  In fact, techniques and procedures developed over decades of fundamental and applied research in our quest to understand the mechanisms of life at microscopic level should enable us to overcome rapidly the present pandemic. By virtue of these techniques, we were able to perform rapidly the tests required to identify the virus and track down its whereabouts. By transforming scientific knowledge into healthcare, the community of researchers has contributed to slowing down the virus’s progress with sophisticated vaccines developed in less than a year.

Our past investments in science and scientific infrastructure prepared us to face this particular challenge and today’s investments will ensure our societies’ resilience and further progress in the future. Society benefits enormously from these investments.

Although the pandemic occupies the centre of our attention today, other challenges lie ahead, that’s why we must remain active on all fronts. On our path to shed light on the fundamentally unknown, we are often pushed to the highest levels of inventiveness.

Scientific research is, by definition, a preparation for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The directors of major US and European Research Laboratories are fully aware of their responsibilities to enable R&D at the highest levels of excellence. At their January meeting, they discussed ways to jointly enhance their capacity to fulfil their respective missions. Sharing the same values, and convinced that science performs best through collaboration, the National Laboratory Directors’ Council and EIROforum Council have decided to explore ways to strengthen co-ordination by exchanging best practices and developing the interests they hold in common for the benefit of humanity.


CERN’s newest accelerator, LINAC4, began commissioning in August 2020 as part of the LHC Injectors Upgrade, LIU, project (Image: Andrew Hara/CERN).

EIROforum – renewing facilities for a bright research future

The eight EIROforum research organisations are all in the vanguard of their respective fields, and constantly innovating in order to stay there. All are currently engaged in preparing new facilities or upgrading existing ones to ensure a bright future for European research in the coming decades. This article takes a look at the range of work going on around the labs.

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