Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

The 20th Anniversary of ESFRI – Related conference and considerations from the eLTER perspective

19 July 2022

ESFRI (The European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures) was founded in 2002 for the purpose of further developing large-scale research facilities and research infrastructure networks in Europe in a strategy-driven and jointly coordinated process. ESFRI consists of delegates from the EU Member States and states associated with the EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development along with a representative from the European Commission.

The creation of the “ESFRI Roadmap” was a milestone of ESFRI. It lists the priority European research infrastructures for the coming 10-20 years to be jointly set up, as well as RIs already in the implementation phase (ESFRI Landmarks).

The ESFRI Roadmap is updated about every two years in an iterative process and currently contains 18 ESFRI Projects and 37 ESFRI Landmarks covering the domains of energy, health & food, environment, physical sciences & engineering, social & cultural innovation and computing (as of 2018). In collaboration with the European Commission, ESFRI developed a framework for a sustainable legal entity to establish European research infrastructures. These legal entities are designated European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERIC) enable a permanent institutional status. eLTER now aims at such eLTER ERIC.

The 20th Anniversary Conference of ESFRI, took place on 25 March 2022 in Paris, France, as part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and emphasized RIs decisive role for scientific discoveries. From the perspective of Europe´s diverse environments and the need for representative information across the continent´s natural and socioeconomic gradients, it is important that the ESFRI framework allows for single-sited, but also distributed research infrastructures. Distributed RIs consist of a Central Hub and interlinked National Nodes/Facilities.

This enables the integration of long-lasting networking and project based efforts of the European LTER with a formalized infrastructure development. The work towards secured common services and long-term funded eLTER Sites and eLTSER Platforms is driven by the national eLTER ESFRI processes in >20 countries. These processes mirror the European scale strategy represented by the ESFRI Roadmap, which has proved as decisive door opener for concerted RI development.