Research, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore launches debate in Brussels on how to bridge gap between science and decision-making to overcome societal challenges

| December 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

MILMilanUniversitaCattolicachiostro1On 11 December, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore launched a debate to address the gap between science and policymaking to overcome one of the most important challenges of our time in Europe: demographic change.

Reconnecting policy making and science: How do we do it? This was the topic of the meeting, organized by the Italian university in Brussels in the framework of the Italian Presidency of the European Union, which will gather together MEPs and representatives of the EU Parliament, the European Commission, the Italian Permanent Representation, Researchers, industry and relevant associations.

The University has shared today its research activity and its international collaborations right at the heart of the EU institutions in the European Parliament to provide policy makers with the right tools and evidence for decision making.

The guests were welcomed by the vice chairman of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy of the European Parliament Patrizia Toia. Key note speeches were addressed by Riccardo Ribera d’Alcala, Director General of the European Parliament; and Mario Melazzini, Regional Minister for research and innovation of the Lombardy Region. Rector Franco Anelli, rector of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, officially presented the contribution that the scientific research can offer to the policy making process to best influence society. Lorenzo Morelli, coordinator of the Committee on the Research Strategy of the University and Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science will present UCloud – Connecting Knowledge, the tool developed by the Cattolica University to foster dialogue in Europe and around the world between science and society.

The project consists in two tools: a newsletter, sent to a selected number of people every six months to launch a virtual debate on specific subject; a website, which includes the research conducted by the University, but also contributions, comments, suggestions and ideas from academic partners, entrepreneurs, politicians. This online tool will become, a virtual spot hosting various contributions. With a multistakeholders and a multidisciplinary approach, UCloud will develop new partnerships and initiate new research paths, always keeping the discussion at a scientific level. The first theme that the Università Cattolica has brought to the attention of European policy makers is the active ageing and healthy living. This means demographic change as a challenge, and at the same time as an opportunity to encourage social innovation and promote q global well-being in an ageing society.

About this topic during the event was presented also the international publication Active Ageing and Healthy Living, edited by Professors Giuseppe Riva, Paolo Ajmone Marsan and Claudio Grassi, which gathers various contributions from Università Cattolica, in a multi and interdisciplinary perspective, all available in Open Access.

In the publication you will find a range of research contributions going from the medical field to the psychology, from the nutrition sciences to the social sciences, from the mathematical models to the role of information technology on aging, to name just a few. A part of the contents presented are the result of investigations on the theme that the university has funded and is funding on aging, with an economic and human resources investment that confirms the commitment to research of our university. “This is just an example of the ability of the university to conduct, and also self-finance, interdisciplinary researches with a European perspective. We need to combine the most relevant points of view and establish a virtuous dialogue between them that is our proposal in Brussels “concludes Professor Lorenzo Morelli.

The event in Brussels will be divided in two sessions. The first will be dedicated to Demographic Change: a significant challenge and a great social opportunity in Europe, the second will be about Demographic Change: an opportunity to promote ‘healthy nutrition for healthy aging.

Two contributions from DG CONNECT (Peter Wintlev Jensen) and DG SANCO (Jorge Pinto Antunes), touched the most significant aspects of the current European Strategies and Initiatives in the field of active and health ageing. Started from the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing and continuing with the opportunity of promoting a Silver Economy in Europe. The first session has seen the participation of the Research Attaché of the Italian Permanent Representation of Italy to the EU. Luca Moretti has indeed helped to define the contribution that European research policy is trying to give in bridging the gap between science and policy looking at the current societal challenge. During the two sessions three examples from relevant Joint Programming Initiatives, that are contributing to make a better use of Europe’s public funds in the field of demographic change, will be debated. The JPI More Years and Better Lives was presented by the current Chair representing the Italian Ministry for Research and Education, Paolo Maria Rossini, Professor of Neurology from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. In addition to this, the JPI Urban Europe and the JPI Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life were presented and discussed by respectively Margit Noll and Rafael De Andres Medina. The three listed JPIs are promoting a transnational and multidisciplinary approach to the subject. The second session has ended with a focus on nutrition and ageing from both the industry and research perspectives. Dirk Jacobs has talked on behalf of Food Drink Europe and Francesco Landi, professor of geriatrics from Università Cattolica with relevant international collaborations explained the link between nutrition and ageing and listed life styles as one of the determinant for active and healthy ageing as recently recognized during a Presidency event.

Franco Anelli, Rector of the Cattolica University, said: “The complexity of the social consequences of scientific research, and the difficulty of predicting and dominate all outcomes, make very problematic the choices of research policy. It is increasingly difficult – and it would be a big mistake – to treat search as a “simple” problem which refers only to the process of acquiring new knowledge, the elaboration of new methods or technologies. For this reason the research policies require, in order to be legitimated from the social and moral point of view, transparency, information, public participation in decision making process. In this context, the universities, that have the goal of unifying the research with the educational activities, have the task of forming people able to tackle these difficult choices. “

Patrizia Toia, vice chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy said: “Since years we fight in the European Parliament to give room and resources to the scientific research, this is the key to regain competitivity and come out from the crisis. Europe is not going to win his challenge for knowledge without the capacity of establish a net with, research centers in various countries, politicians, researchers and enterprises in a dialog that could put in evidence the complexity of a topic in continuous evolution. The Project of the Cattolica University goes in this good direction.” 

Mario Melazzini, Regional Minister for research and innovation of the Lombardy Region, said: This event represents an important moment for discussion of active aging, which has a significant impact on the sustainable growth of our societies, as it affects the central theme of the health and quality of life. Today, in fact, we focus on the critical question of how to combine the efforts of science and research with the development of effective policies, as well as asking how they can both support society in addressing the emerging demographic challenges. Our society can and must address these challenges by converting them into new opportunities of harmonious growth and sustainability.

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