European Lifestyles and Marine Ecosystems

Project: Other projectResearch collaboration

Project Details


The "European Lifestyles and Marine Ecosystems" (ELME) Project was a multidisciplinary research project consisting of a consortium of 28 research groups from 15 European countries. The project involved a DPSIR analysis of the environmental changes in Europe's regional seas utilizing scenario forecasting and modelling. Total budget for the project was €2.5million.

Layman's description

Marine ecosystems possess great intrinsic value as reserves of biological diversity and are vital providers of goods and services to humanity. However, they are often disregarded during economic and social development. Europe 's four sea areas; the Baltic, NE Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea have each paid a heavy price for unsustainable development within their catchments and sea areas. Their ecosystems have suffered to differing degrees from eutrophication, chemical pollution, unsustainable fisheries and physical destruction of habitats. This damage is closely connected with human lifestyles throughout the continent. The future integrity of marine systems depends on our approach to European development in the coming decades. Bringing marine ecosystems into policies for sustainable development requires better information on the causal connections between human pressures and the changing state of the systems. This is particularly important at a time when the European Community is expanding, re-examining its agricultural and chemical policies, implementing a new fisheries policy and exploring new ways to protect marine systems. ELME enhances understanding of causality, forecast the impacts of divergent development scenarios and inform evolving Community policies.

Current interdisciplinary knowledge linking lifestyles with their marine environmental consequences is widely dispersed. ELME brought together a necessarily large consortium, covering all relevant disciplines and regions. It integrated existing knowledge of environmental state changes, sectoral pressures and social and economic drivers using a common conceptual model. It used contextual indicators for each causal level and modelled the relationships between them. These models were applied to plausible development scenarios with particular focus on the accession process, to explore possible consequences for the stated four marine ecosystems.

Key findings
Effective start/end date20/03/0320/03/07