Role of research in the Green Deal
What does the Green Deal have in store for research and how to ensure that knowledge institutions are co-creators? This event, moderated by Jurgen Rienks, director of Neth-ER, aimed to answer these questions. Anastasios Kentarchos, Adviser Climate Science & Innovation at Directorate-General Research & Innovation of the European Commission, kicked off the event by highlighting the policies and possibilities for research in relation to the Green Deal at EU level. Subsequently a panel discussion followed on the Green Deal research activities, ambitions and needs of knowledge institutions and the Dutch government, with Kornelis Blok (Chair of the TU Delft Energy Initiative and Professor of Energy Systems Analysis, Chairman Netherlands Energy Research Alliance), Joep Houterman (Chairman of the Board of Fontys University of applied sciences), Tirza van Daalen (Director of the Geological Survey of the Netherlands at TNO) and Ineke Hoving-Nienhuis (coordinator Horizon Europe at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy).
R&I as key enablers and the impact of Green Deal on research
From the perspective of the European Commission (EC), research and innovation (R&I) is seen as ‘key enabler’ for achieving the goal of climate neutrality in 2050. The main instrument for R&I on the European level is Horizon Europe, which should dedicate 35% of its budget to climate action. The EC urges the research community, member states and other societal stakeholders to work together to accelerate solutions for the climate crisis.
The question during the panel discussion was whether knowledge institutions felt the impact of the actions at the European level related to the Green Deal. But also, whether the knowledge institutions are co-creators of the Green Deal and how the collaboration with the society occurs. According to the panellists the Dutch research agenda was already sustainability oriented, but the Green Deal caused an expansion of the sustainability related topics. Also, the collaboration with societal actors is on a proficient level in the Dutch research field. There are still ways to improve the impact of Green Deal by reaching out to new partners in society.
Three elements to improve the impact of Green Deal
Nevertheless, to increase the speed of the ‘green transition’ and to find new collaboration partners, there are three main elements that should be improved. First, the collaboration of knowledge institutions with the government, NGOs, and industrial partners, especially SME’s, should be incentivised by the funding schemes. Currently European and national funding schemes are focussed on competition, and not necessarily on collaboration. Second, there is a need for long-term funding schemes, instead of short-term project funding. This will allow continuity and accumulation of expertise on sustainability issues. Third, it is key to attract and keep the right people to deliver on the Green Deal research ambitions. In the current ‘war for talent’ it is important that institutions rethink how to motivate researchers to work for them.
A more detailed summary of the event and the videorecording can be found on the Neth-ER website.