The world’s major complex challenges such as climate change and natural disasters will be the focus of a new, collaborative centre co-funded by the European Commission and based at the University of Melbourne.

To be launched tomorrow in Canberra, the University of Melbourne EU Centre on Shared Complex Challenges will be funded by an €800,000 EUR ($1.2 million AUD) award from the European Commission. 

It will be a focal point for research that enhances EU-Australian collaboration. The Centre will be hosted by the University of Melbourne’s ‘Carlton Connect Initiative’, the emerging sustainability and resilience precinct that will open its first stage this year on the former Royal Women’s Hospital site.

As well as hosting regular visits from EU experts, the Centre will also support a number of PhD students who are completing research on themes in line with the European Union Commission’s priorities, particularly in the realm of international collaboration, and regional governance and business innovation.

Professor James McCluskey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) said the Centre was a valuable addition to the ‘Carlton Connect Initiative’, as the University continues to align its research efforts towards tackling the world’s grand challenges.

“This new Centre will be a critical element in our multi-disciplinary engagement with the challenges of complex problems that do not respect borders, such as climate change and natural disasters.

“It will create an opportunity for dialogue on positive actions across the full spectrum of these challenges including their diplomatic, scientific and economic dimensions,” he said.

Speaking ahead of the launch, the inaugural Executive Director of the Centre Marian Schoen said the Centre would be an important regional hub. "The Centre provides a unique platform for engaging researchers, business and the wider community within Australia and the Asia-Pacific region to foster greater co-operation and understanding of EU developments in such areas of critical global interest.'

The Centre at the University of Melbourne will work collaboratively with the RMIT EU Centre, which was announced to be re-funded through the same grant scheme.  They join other centres at ANU, the University of Adelaide and University of South Australia.

The centres act as advocates for the EU in Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region, distributing information and knowledge about the EU and its activities to government, business, and the community, and promote partnerships between Australian and European Union businesses and researchers.