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session ‘Nature protects’, which discussed

examples of how Nature-based solutions can

‘effectively mitigate the impacts of natural

hazards’, including climate change, and how

natural infrastructure can have a ‘positive

impact on local livelihoods and the

environment’. In an exclusive interview with

Portal, Smits began by outlining his enthusiasm

for this major conference on European

environmental policy.

“GreenWeek is a fantastic initiative, and it is very

inspiring to see the number of enthusiastic

people that were there, including the young

people who have an enormous commitment to

the green cause.

“During the ‘Nature protects’ workshop, we tried

to remove the idea that the green agenda will be

at the expense of job creation or competitiveness,

which is not the case; the green agenda,

economic growth, competitiveness and job

creation can go hand in hand,” commented the

director general.

AS

the EU’s united investment scheme for research

and innovation, Horizon 2020 has been heralded as

a break from the past compared to previous

framework programmes. With a significant emphasis on

simplification, faster time to grant and addressing the major

challenges facing European society, the European Commission has

allocated nearly €80bn of funding to the R&I framework

programme as it seeks to attract research proposals from across

the university, research and business sectors. By realising its

objectives, Horizon 2020 aims to encourage economic growth, job

creation and bring more innovative and scientific breakthroughs

to market.

One of the areas where the R&I framework programme seeks to bring

particular benefits is helping to address the challenges facing Europe’s

environment. This year’s Green Week 2015 in Brussels at the beginning

of June, focused on Nature and biodiversity, and discussed how

‘protecting Nature and maintaining Europe’s competitiveness must go

hand in hand’ as such ‘policies can play a key role in creating jobs and

stimulating investment’.

Green agenda

During this year’s event, Robert-Jan Smits, director general of DG

Research and Innovation in the European Commission, took part in the

The research agenda

Speaking exclusively to

Portal,

the director general of DG Research and

Innovation,

Robert-Jan Smits,

provided an insight into how Horizon 2020 is

proving a runaway success with Europe’s scientific and business community

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

12

E X C E L L E N T S C I E N C E

Robert-Jan Smits

©EuropeanUnion,2015