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Call: Social innovation in food sharing to strengthen urban communities’ food resilience

Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 6: Resilient, Inclusive, Healthy and Green Rural, Coastal and Urban Communities"

Places and people matter to the achievement of a more sustainable Europe. The Sustainable Development Goals and the ecological and digital transitions brought forward by the European Green Deal [[]] and digital strategy [[]], alongside the recent pandemic, bring challenges and opportunities that differ for different places and people. Rural (including mountains and sparsely populated areas) and coastal areas, play a key role in managing, protecting and using natural resources. The provision of both private and public goods from these areas depends on the resilience and attractiveness of rural and coastal communities and the capacity of people who live and work there to access a sufficient level of well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted deficiencies in digital infrastructures and economic opportunities that hamper resilience. Urban communities generally offer better access to many services but are also more vulnerable to supply-chain disruptions, as shown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, they have a key role to play in fostering sustainable production and consumption as major demand drivers. In all communities, social and behavioural drivers play an important role in enabling or slowing down transitions. Knowledge and innovative solutions need to be developed to enhance every community’s resilience and capacity to contribute to and benefit from the upcoming transitions in an economy that works for all territories and ensures a fair and just transition leaving no one behind.

Under this destination, transdisciplinary R&I with a strong social and behavioural sciences dimension, and attention to gender aspects, will foster a sustainable, balanced and inclusive development of rural [[R&I will support the implementation of an EU-level long-term vision for rural areas to be published in the 2nd quarter of 2021.]], coastal and urban areas in three different ways. Firstly, it will aim to increase our understanding of the differential impacts of climate, environmental, socio-economic and demographic changes on rural, coastal and urban areas in order to identify ways to turn these changes into equal opportunities for people wherever they live, enhancing territorial cohesion and enabling a just transition. Secondly, it will explore innovative ways to tailor policy responses to the place-based challenges identified at various levels of governance. Thirdly, it will support bottom-up community-led innovation to empower communities to develop, test and upscale solutions that answer global challenges in locally adapted ways. Achieving policy goals require providing people with more equitable access to the knowledge and skills required to make informed choices and be actively engaged in the sustainable and circular management of natural resources, from production or service provision to consumption. Rural, coastal and urban communities, in particular women, youth, the most vulnerable groups like indigenous people and those hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, need to see their labour conditions, quality of life and long-term socio-economic prospects improved in the context of major transitions and rising threats to climate, resources and health. Their capacity to drive community-led innovations must be enhanced and their resilience increased across the diversity of European territories including remote places such as mountains and sparsely populated areas. Mobilising the forces of digital transformation, start-up ecosystems, nature-based solutions, as well as social and policy innovation will facilitate necessary changes and support smart, environment and climate friendly and resilient lifestyles.

Activities under this destination are complementary to Cluster 2 activities with attention to spatial differences and specifics in relation with democracy (Destination ‘Innovative research on democracy and governance’), socio-economic transformations (Destination ‘Innovative research on social and economic transformation’) and cultural heritage (Destination ‘Innovative research on the European cultural heritage and the cultural and creative industries). They are also complementary to Cluster 5’s Destination ‘Cross-sectoral solutions for the climate transition’ on cities and communities that should explore place-based approaches to climate, energy and mobility specifically for all places.

To maximise the intended impacts and to ensure uptake by the communities, actions in the cluster should aim for high standards of transparency and openness for the solutions developed, going beyond ex-post documentation of results and extending to aspects such as assumptions, processes, models and data during the life of projects.

Expected impacts

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to resilient, inclusive, healthy and green rural, coastal and urban communities and more specifically one or several of the following expected impacts:

  • Rural, coastal and urban areas are developed in a sustainable, balanced and inclusive manner thanks to a better understanding of the environmental, socio-economic, behavioural, cultural and demographic drivers of change as well as deployment of digital, nature-based, social and community-led innovations.
  • Rural, coastal and urban communities are empowered to act for change, better prepared to achieve climate neutrality, adapt to climate change, and turn digital and ecological transitions into increased resilience to various types of shocks, good health and positive long-term prospects, including jobs, for all including women, young people and vulnerable groups.
  • Rural communities are equipped with innovative and smarter solutions that increase access to services, opportunities and adequate innovation ecosystems, including for women, youth and the most vulnerable groups, improve attractiveness and reduce the feeling of being left behind, even in the most remote locations like mountains.
  • The sustainable development of coastal areas including coastal protection and resilience reaps the benefits of social, digital and community-led innovations, to deliver nature-based and scientifically validated solutions to existing coastal socio-economic and environmental threats. In this way, applications of new social, economic and governance frameworks are enabled.
  • Tourism, recreational and leisure activity development in natural and coastal areas respects long-term environmental carrying capacity, and social goals.
  • Urban and peri-urban communities – including the most vulnerable individuals and families – can access, afford and choose healthier, nutritious and environmental-friendly food.

When considering their impact, proposals also need to assess their compliance with the “Do No Significant Harm” principle [[as per Article 17 of Regulation (EU) No 2020/852 on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (EU Taxonomy Regulation)]] according to which the research and innovation activities of the project should not be supporting or carrying out activities that make a significant harm to any of the six environmental objectives of the EU Taxonomy Regulation.

Topics under this destination will have impacts in the following impact areas of the Horizon Europe strategic plan for 2021-2024 [[[Link to the strategic plan]]]: “Climate change mitigation and adaptation”; “Enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity on land and in water”; “Sustainable food systems from farm to fork”; “Good health and high-quality accessible healthcare”; “A resilient EU prepared for emerging threats”; “A competitive and secure data-economy”; and “Inclusive growth and new job opportunities”.

Link Link to Programme
Social innovation in food sharing to strengthen urban communities’ food resilience
Description of call
"Social innovation in food sharing to strengthen urban communities’ food resilience"

Expected Outcome:

In line with the European Green Deal priorities and the farm to fork strategy for a fair healthy and environmentally friendly food system, as well as of the EU's Climate ambition for 2030 and 2050, the successful proposal will support the development of policies, business models and market conditions contributing to the sustainable, balanced and inclusive development of urban and peri-urban areas and to the empowerment and resilience of their communities, who can access, afford and choose healthier, nutritious and environmental-friendly food.

Projects results are expected to contribute to all following expected outcomes:

  • The concept of urban food-sharing economy and of its impacts on the society, the planet and the economy at urban and peri-urban level are better understood, as well as the drivers to its development and the implementation gaps;
  • Urban and peri-urban communities develop or strengthen their food-sharing economies as a step towards more innovative, inclusive, sustainable and resilient local food systems and supply chains that can also address emerging problems, such as the challenges posed by the measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • Prevention and reduction of food waste.


With the recent Covid-19 pandemic, it is now evident that the risk of disruptions of food systems needs to be given greater attention. Strengthening the resilience of communities (in particular the most vulnerable and isolated, and those at risk of food poverty) to potential food system disruptions is at the heart of this topic.

The Pandemic has contributed to the emergence of territorialised and community-based food economies spontaneously created by citizens. These new sharing and circular economies are based on the redistribution of value, knowledge-sharing and reciprocal support, and are often supported by local governments.

Urban food sharing initiatives have been multiplying across a wide range of diversified cities, far beyond the wealthiest ones, and are often facilitated by new technologies such as apps, websites and social media. Such initiatives develop strategies that support an increase in resilience, social justice and empowerment of vulnerable and marginalised populations.

However, urban food sharing is still an unexplored – and debated – field; there is currently no agreed definition and many activities can be considered as part of it (e.g., kitchen spaces, meal sharing, food business incubators, collaborative delivery services, food donation). The lack of political interest, financing and sufficient data, as well as the existence of regulatory barriers and risks (both real and perceived), are holding back the rise of new food systems economies that work for all people and the planet.

The proposals should foster social innovation, with a special focus on building a more widespread and resilient food sharing economy, where different practices can be considered, while working on 5 distinct areas:

  • Mapping, tracking and monitoring: building on the work of the EU-funded project ‘Sharecity’, proposals should investigate the food sharing landscapes of at least 100 EU/Associated Countries cities to understand how food sharing landscapes differ within and across countries; moreover, proposals should develop automated systems to search, collect and – especially – update existing urban and peri-urban initiatives;
  • Cost-benefit analysis: proposals should define appropriate measures and indicators to assess the social, economic and environmental benefits of urban and peri-urban food sharing, including developing new indices to describe the specificity of food sharing economy. This should include the production of new knowledge on the challenges, implementation gaps and innovative mechanisms to foster for sustainable food sharing in cities, towns and neighbourhoods;
  • Comparative governance analysis: proposals should investigate how different food sharing landscapes evolve and, also through a scenario analysis, how to transform the existing regulatory regimes, governance structures and habits, to promote sustainable food sharing;
  • Strategic planning: proposals should exploit the potential for replicability/scale up of existing food sharing initiatives across the EU and associated countries and bring innovation into urban food systems design to integrate sustainable food sharing and build the urban food systems of the future;
  • Challenging the existing theories: proposals should study the relationship between the evolution of social norms, culture and local conditions, including their change due to the global pandemics, and the rise of food sharing initiatives.

Furthermore, proposals should support the definition of innovative local strategies to overcome the barriers to food and nutrition security in urban areas and boost community resilience. This can include the creation and evaluation of distributive food systems (e.g. mutual aid programmes, local food systems networks) based on local needs and capacities, where value, knowledge and power would be redistributed fairly across actors and territories; tailored solutions - including social innovations, frugal innovation, technologies, new/adapted business models -, as well as new market places.

Proposals should address inequalities in urban food systems, whether they be due to gender, race and other social categories.

Proposals should implement the multi-actor approach by conducting inter and trans-disciplinary research and involving a wide diversity of food system actors, with a special attention to consumers and civil society organisations. They should ensure a strong involvement of citizens and civil society, as well as of academia, industry and public authorities in the development of the methods and approaches to innovation.

Proposals should explain and map how the co-benefits relevant to the four Food 2030 priorities will be achieved: Nutrition for sustainable healthy diets, Climate and environment, Circularity and resource efficiency, Innovation and empowerment of communities.

Proposals should set out a clear plan on how they will collaborate with other proposals selected under this and any other relevant topic/call, e. g. by participating in joint activities, workshops, as well as common communication and dissemination activities.

This topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Administration & Governance, Rural & Peripheral Development, Regional Development & Regional Planning, Demographic Change, Migration, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Employment & Labour Market, Competitiveness, SME, Urban development, Consumer Protection
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Research Institution, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), NGO / NPO, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, Public Services, Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Start Up Company, Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, National Government
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 10.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 10.00 million.
Typ of ActionInnovation actions (IA)
Funding rate70% (except for non-profit legal entities, where a rate of up to 100% applies)

The proposals must use the multi-actor approach.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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