7th EAP — The new EU Environment Action Programme to 2020

The programme identifies three priority areas where more action is needed to protect nature and strengthen ecological resilience, boost resource-efficient, low-carbon growth, and reduce threats to human health and wellbeing linked to pollution, chemical substances, and the impacts of climate change:

  1. The first action area is linked to “natural capital” – from fertile soil and productive land and seas to fresh water and clean air – as well as the biodiversity that supports it. Natural capital includes vital services such as pollination of plants, natural protection against flooding, and the regulation of our climate. Biodiversity and safeguarding of water is also a concern .
  2. The second action area concerns the conditions that will help transform the EU into a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy.
  3. The third key action area covers challenges to human health and wellbeing, such as air and water pollution, excessive noise, and toxic chemicals.

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GEOSSS and COPERNICUS – Earth observation systems


The GEO’s Mission aims at  building  the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). GEOSS is a collection of coordinated, independent Earth observation for users in both public and private sectors. GEOSS  facilitates the sharing of environmental data and information collected from an array of observing systems.  The system  ensures the data is  of identified quality, and is interoperable to support the development of tools and the delivery of information services to enhance predictive capabilities for decision-making in line with the open access policy of the EU.

As examples of data available through monitoring, flood risk monitoring can be mentioned as well as  environmental parameters , space and security issues.

The ‘GEOSS Portal’ offers a single Internet access point for users seeking data, imagery and analytical software packages relevant to all parts of the globe. It connects users to existing data bases and portals and provides reliable, up-to-date and user friendly information – vital for the work of decision makers, planners and emergency managers.


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IPR protection in Horizon 2020 projects

General considerations

Clarification of the four most common IP protection:

Trademarks. Registered property which in fact can last indefinitely. It needs to be renewed every 20 years. If not, it ends automatically after the said period.

Patents.  The most extensive  IP right.  Patent is an exclusive right issued to the applicant in exchange for making  the invention public. It is originally designed for industrial novelties, but has gradually been expanded to cover other fields.  The patent is restricted to 20 years, 25 in the pharmaceutical industry since testing of drugs often takes  many years. The invention is made public 18 months after the date of application.  It takes about 30 months from application date to issue a patent and the application prosess can cost up to 100 thous. euros.

Design.  Design is another registered right. It concentrates on the design on industrial products. Initially it can cover a period of 5 years or longer. This right has to be renewed regularly up to 25 years – the maximum period of design protection.

Copyright. The only IP right which iscreated  as soon as an intellectual property is created.   That means it comes into existense without registration.  It is also the most long-lived of all protection. It is valid for 70 years after the death of the author.

Project proposal

At the proposal stage relevant IP protection issues should be examined.  Background knowledge, that is the knowledge the partners bring to the project, should be defined and opened up for the partners, where relevant. Confidentiality  issues need to be clarifired and managed, a non-disclossure  agreement (NDA) signed if necessary. As in all projects, a plan for dissemination and exploitation including open access issues shoul be considered.

A state of the art investigation is also necessary. In some cases this can be done by the project partners. In others, this is a complicated task best left to experts.

Grant received, project implemented

In funding negotiations 2  agreements,  namely the Grant Agreement (GA) and Consortiun Agreement (CA)  are prepared. The consortiun agreement is entered between the project partners. It clarifies  the management of knowledge in a project, rights to background knowledge, ownership and transfer of results as well as dissemination. This also includes IP management. Dissemination should be discusssed in relation to confidentiality.  It is important to emphasize that IP protection  with necessary confidentiality is not contadictory to dissemination of the results. It all depends on the right order.

Having the CA ready the Commission and the consortium can negotiate the grant agreement. The grant agreement needs to be constantly reviewed and should have provisions to handle  internal conflicts and disputes.

After the end of project

IP issues at the end of project and beyond neeed to be addressed at this stage. That includes the evaluation and valorisation of intellectual peoperty.  Dissemination of resulets, including open access, needs to be clarified.


Some useful sites:




Using satelites for measurements of the Earth´s ice sheet

Modern measurements of the Earth´s ice sheet can be carried out using satellites. Two methods are mainly used:

  1. Altimetry methods. In this category it is possible to use narrow laser beams. They give high resolution and can be used even for steep slopes. The drawback is that lasers are blocked by the cloud cover.  The second method is the use of radar. Their beam is broad, which means the resolution is low and they cannot be used on sleep slopes.  Their big advantage is that they are not blocked by the cloud cover. These two methods have been used together to combine the strength of each of them.
  2. Gravimetry. Two satellites are now running in parallel around the Earth under the program name GRACE. The distance between them is 200 kilometers. But this distance changes slightly due to tiny changes in the Earth´s gravitational field. These tiny changes reflect local changes in the Earth´s mass which is affected by, inter alia, ice on and near the Earth´s surface.  With repeated measurements of the same area and a little bit of maths and modelling it is possible to literally weigh the icesheet from space!

Taking Iceland as an example, 11.000 square kilometers  of the island are covered by glaciers. Among them is Europe´s biggest glacier – Vatnajökull.  In the period 2000 – 2013 these  glaciers have receeded about 500 square kilommeters yearly.  That  is similar to half of  the Reykjavík area.

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