Amazon's indigenous people hunt animals feeding in areas contaminated by oil spills

A study by the ICTA-UAB and the UAB Department of Animal Health and Anatomy demonstrates that the main species hunted by the indigenous popoulations of the Peruvian Amazon ingest water and soil contaminated with hidrocarbons and heavy metals.

The new Planttes app warns of allergy risks in different urban areas

The Planttes application is a citizen science project which aims to encourage people to identify and locate on a map the existence of allergy-causing plants and indicate their phenological state.

Global climate treaty easier to negotiate if guided by Human Development Index

A study by ICTA-UAB concludes that agreements against climate change would be more attractive to rich countries if they were analyzed taking into account the Human Development Index, instead of GDP.



New Project to Link Extreme Weather Events, Atmospheric Biodiversity and Human Health

A new ICTA-UAB project led by researcher Jordina Belmonte will study the effects of extreme meteorological events on the biological biodiversity present in the atmosphere in order to predict changes in the environment and possible affectations on human health.

Bolivian Amazon on road to deforestation

Amazon biodiversity hotspot to suffer even more “alarming” losses after contentious law passed, according to a study involving ICTA-UAB researchers.

ICTA-UAB’s success: five ERC grants in two years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded five European Research Council (ERC) grants in two years, which is about ten per cent of all ERC grants arriving in Catalonia over the period from the end of 2015 to the end of 2017.

Scientists Alert of Swift Degradation of Marine Ecosystems and Grave Consequences for the Planet

A book edited by researchers from the ICTA-UAB, the UB, the CNRS and the IEO addresses the concept of "animal forest" and highlights the importance of the role seas and oceans have in combating climate change.

New ICTA-UAB map shows success, concerns and challenges of the transition away from fossil fuels and coal industry in Australia

Resistance against massive coal-mining in Australia and a growing movement for a ‘just transition’ from fossil fuels have enjoyed some success but face massive challenges, as shown in a new map developed by researchers from the international ACKnowl-EJ project of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB)  and the Australian Environmental Justice (AEJ) research team at the Centre for Urban Research (RMIT University.

ICTA-UAB researcher Victoria Reyes-García receives an ERC Consolidator Grant

ICREA researcher at ICTA-UAB Victoria Reyes- García has been graced with a Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) for the development of a project aimed at bringing insights from local knowledge to climate change research.

Research to study the health effects of forests

The ICTA-UAB, CREAF and the "la Caixa" Bank Foundation recently presented the project "Healthy Forests for a Healthy Society".

Blockadia map by ICTA-UAB reveals global scale of anti-fossil fuel movement

A new interactive map by researchers of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) reveals the worldwide impact of resistance direct actions by people putting their own bodies in the way of fossil fuel projects.

Launch of the Alliance of Severo Ochoa Centres and Maria de Maeztu Units of Excellence

​ The Secretary of State for R&D+i, Carmen Vela, chaired the kickoff meeting of the new Severo Ochoa and Maria Maeztu Alliance of Excellence.

Green gentrification can limit the favourable effects of green areas on health

A scientific research conducted by ICTA-UAB and IMIM suggests that more socially disadvantaged neighbours do not benefit equally from the effects newly created green areas have on health.

ICTA-UAB researchers alert that oil palm plantations produce infertility in tropical lands

Oil palm plantations are replacing 40% of tropical forests and 32% of basic grain crops, according to an ICTA-UAB research conducted in Guatemala.

EJAtlas Includes 2,100 Case Studies on Socio-Environmental Conflicts Around the World

The Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas), created by researchers of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), currently includes 2,100 cases of ecological distribution conflicts identified in different parts of the world.

Ice age thermostat prevented extreme climate cooling

During the ice ages, an unidentified regulatory mechanism prevented atmospheric CO2 concentrations from falling below a level that could have led to runaway cooling, reports a study conducted by researchers of the ICTA-UAB and published online in Nature Geoscience this week.

New ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide'

The new ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide' it is at your disposal now. With this document, we aim to help you discover the basics of the PhD programme, ICTA-UAB’s structure, etc.
The ICTA-UAB Will Assess, in Collaboration with EU Staff, the Effectiveness of EU Sustainability Policies

Date: 2016-06-02

The EU Project MAGIC (H2020) coordinated by the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has the goal to study and develop new strategies for a better use of science for governance. 

The project will consider the existing directives and processes of evaluation of technical innovations by looking at the quality of the scientific evidence used in the process of decision making.  The goal is to avoid the use of “scientific evidence” based on excessive simplifications, leading to decisions that ignore relevant information, the existence of contrasting but legitimate perspectives about the issue to be tackled, and the unavoidable presence of large doses of uncertainty.

Very often policies enforced by the European Union to deal with the issue of sustainability are based on “scientific evidence” that is based on scientific models which do not consider the full range of implications of the chosen problem across different scales and dimensions of analysis.  As a result of this fact, “scientific evidence” based on reductionist science not always tackles relevant issues and very rarely proves to be effective in providing the expected results.
This is the starting assumption of the MAGIC project coordinated by the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) which has been funded with 7.5 million Euros by the European Union (Programme Horizon 2020).  The project aims to analyze the role of “scientific evidence” in the process of decision making within the European Union and carry out a reflection together with EU staff about the possibility of adopting more effective procedures when using science in the process of governance.

The title of the Project is “Moving towards Adaptive Governance in Complexity: Informing Nexus Security” and the consortium coordinated by ICTA-UAB includes eight more partners from Spain, Scotland, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and Germany, plus the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

The proposed model is that of “co-production of useful information” in which a trans-disciplinary team of researchers – integrating different disciplinary expertise – will work together with EU staff in order to identify relevant issues to be considered in the problem structuring and develop an effective integrated analysis supplying useful information for the decision making process.  This model of co-production should guarantee a better quality for the scientific evidence needed to implement the Strategy 2020 of the EU and a better informed discussion at the international level on global questions such as climate change and food security.

MAGIC will start with a critical appraisal of the existing narratives about sustainability, proposing alternative views and “thinking out of the box”.  In particular, the critical appraisal will be based on a quantitative analysis based on the concept of the nexus: establishing a link between food security, energy security, water security (in relation to the patterns of consumption), climate and land use.  This integrated analysis across multiple scales is based on an innovative approach mixing theoretical concepts developed in complex systems theory, system ecology, bio-economics and science and technology studies.

This integrated approach will be applied to two lines of discussions: (i) an analysis of the factors to be considered when dealing with the assessment of technical innovations – e.g. fracking, second generation of biofuels, technical changes required for a circular economy, what to do with Genetically Modified Organisms, the potential role of desalination; and (ii) a critical appraisal of the existing directives used for dealing with the predicament of sustainability.  The goal is to generate a reflection on the risks associated with an excessive confidence in the “Cartesian dream” that science can given to humans the power of absolute prediction and control.  “Every time we base our decision on the quantitative output of models based on the adoption of just a single scientific discipline and scale at the time, we are missing alternative narratives about the identified problem that can be perceived only using different disciplines and scales.  This implies that the consequences of the chosen policies not only are unknown, but also that they may be counterproductive in relation to the original goal”, says Mario Giampietro, ICREA Researcher at ICTA-UAB and coordinator of the project.  “A clear example of this fact has been given by the production of the first generation of biofuels.  The large demand of land, water and other resources needed to generate biofuels implied a major negative effect on food security in many areas of the world”, explains Giampietro.

An analysis based on the nexus between water, energy, food, and land use at the scale of the whole planet in relation to the implication for the population and the climate will make easier to detect systemic problems or negative consequences of innovations and policies implemented by the European Union.

The project is organized in three structural/functional components: a “Nexus Dialogue Space” coordinated by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, which will guarantee the collaboration of the researchers with staff of the European Commission (in the different DGs and other EU institutions);  “Nexus Information Space”, which will coordinate and integrate the scientific assessment of the different teams expert in food production, energy, water and land use, in order to guarantee the congruence with the constraints provided by the nexus, and a “Nexus Knowledge Hub”, an interactive platform used to bring into the discussion other social actors such as the industry, NGOs, Universities, and the rest of society.

The impact expected from the MAGIC project is twofold: (i) the generation of new methodologies and procedures to guarantee a quality control on the process of production and use of scientific information in the process of decision making.  This result will be particularly relevant for the policy makers (in this case the DGs of the EU), which will have analytical tools capable of better handling the implication of complexity, such as the unavoidable presence of uncertainty, the co-existence of legitimate but contrasting perspectives about what to do, the implication of the existence of multiple scales; (ii) a critical appraisal and an informed reflection on the feasibility, viability and desirability of the policies actually implemented by the EU – e.g. water directive, CAP (agricultural policy), low-carbon economy, circular economy – and a critical appraisal of the methods currently used to discuss the pros and cons of innovations – e.g. fracking, biofuels, tradable permits, GMOs, desalination.

The other partners of the consortium led by ICTA-UAB are: Hutton Institute James (Scotland), Wageningen University (The Netherlands), Twente University (The Netherlands), University of Bergen (Norway), European Commission - Joint Research Centre, University of Naples Federico II (Italy), Climate Analytics (Germany), and the Institute of Technology of Canary Islands (Spain).

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