The fifth edition of The Innovation Platform discusses innovative research to bring forth a sustainable future and furthers the fields of physics, space science, aquaculture, healthcare, and more.
In my last introduction to this publication, my focus rested on two things – the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential for a green and sustainable recovery. These two issues remain as poignant today as they did three months ago; we are yet to see the end of the coronavirus – and are unlikely to for some time – but progress towards a more sustainable future continues.
Yet, even as the green and digital transitions are being prioritised in Europe, several dimensions remain to be fully explored. One such area is the important role of citizens who, when fully informed, can help to provide critical oversight of policy priorities and, moreover, can ensure that the institutions providing governance are meeting their obligations. With citizens’ behaviour as consumers at the core of sustainable societies, their inclusion is of growing importance moving forwards, and this is therefore the focus of the Inter-Institutional Group ‘SDGs for well-being and consumers’ protection’, which is being promoted by Active Citizenship Network (ACN) and supported by numerous MEPs and other organisations.
Working alongside ACN, I have conducted interviews with a selection of these actors around some of the issues pertaining to the role of citizens in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and they can be found in the following pages.
Alongside this Special Feature, this edition’s Research & Development section includes articles on Space (featuring an interview with Jan Wörner as he prepared to leave his position of Director General of the European Space Agency, and another with René Laureijs from ESA’s Euclid mission) and Physics – including articles from and interviews with the US National Science Foundation, SLAC, and CERN. The Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Professor Manuel Heitor, also provides insight into both Portugal’s and the Council of the European Union’s focus on science and innovation, while Kitti Nyitrai, a member of Kadri Simson’s (European Commissioner for Energy) cabinet, discusses the EU Hydrogen strategy.
In the Health section, Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, discusses the role of the Commission’s civil protection and crisis handling mechanisms in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, and Willem Jonker, CEO of EIT Digital, writes about COVID-19 tracing apps and alternative technologies. Elsewhere, Sheffield University’s Professor Ivan Minev talks about his work developing 3D printing biointerfaces for the treatment of epilepsy. Other sections feature content on areas such as cancer, stroke, and radiation exposure.
In the Environment & Sustainability section, alongside the aforementioned articles on citizens and the SDGs, I speak to Matthias Halwart, Senior Aquaculture Officer at the Food and Agriculture Origanization of the United Nations (UN FAO), about the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) 2020 report. Other sections include topics such as climate change and disaster management, water, and agriculture.
These are just a few highlights from what can be found in the following pages, and I hope that you find them all as interesting and informative as I have found in their creation. I also welcome any comments you may have.
The Innovation Platform