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Call: Agroecological approaches for climate change mitigation, resilient agricultural production and enhanced biodiversity

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Programme
Acronym HORIZON-CL6-CLIMATE
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 5: Land, ocean and water for climate action"

Assessing the impacts of climate change on our land and marine environments, natural resources, agriculture and food systems, and identifying mitigation options and adaptation pathways, requires interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and investments across a broad range of activities. Research is needed to better understand who or what is exposed and sensitive to these changes, their underlying vulnerability, the associated costs and adaptive capacity. Research is also required to provide mitigation options that reduce the risk of long-term climate change

The conservation and enhancement of Earth’s natural carbon sinks such as soils and plants, forests, farmed lands, wetlands and the oceans is crucial. The European Green Deal green oath to “do no harm”, requires a careful examination of the trade-offs and synergies among the sustainability goals, including health protection, food and nutrition security, ecosystem services and biodiversity preservation both on land and at sea. R&I has a significant role to play to support the design and implementation of policies that will ensure the achievement of EU climate objectives.

Agriculture has a significant role to play to reduce and mitigate GHG emissions and to enhance carbon sinks. It also needs to strengthen its capacity to adapt to climate change and its resilience. The forestry sector faces similar challenges.

Freshwater resources are increasingly under stress as a consequence of overuse and climate change with wide-ranging consequences for human societies and ecosystems. It is therefore necessary to define the safe operating space in terms of water quantity and availability, reduce the vulnerability to change and enhance our adaptive capacity.

Strengthening the ocean and climate nexus is another priority for the EU. There is growing political awareness of the importance of ocean and polar regions as an integral part of the Earth’s climate system and of the need to ensure the integrity and resilience of these ecosystems.

While new knowledge leading to a better understanding of the impacts of climate change is necessary, a strong priority needs to be granted to the large-scale deployment and uptake of solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation. Environmental observations and related solutions will be necessary throughout, from understanding to deployment.

Understanding the impacts of climate change on primary production and natural systems is a pre-requisite for policy and societal action on climate change adaptation and mitigation. At present, our understanding of the interactions between climate change and ecosystem management, protection and restoration is limited, yet it is crucial to enabling sound decision making for mitigation and adaptation measures. Monitoring and evaluation of the impacts of climate change, land use change and associated biodiversity loss on a range of key issues related to agriculture and forestry are crucial with respect to the transition to net-zero emissions in the EU. R&I are also needed to close knowledge gaps in support of decision-making aimed at preserving the integrity of ocean and aquatic ecosystems through a better understanding of the drivers of change and of emerging threats. Moreover, since water availability is vulnerable to climate change, it is necessary to improve the projections of changes to the water cycle at different relevant scales and projections of the frequency and intensity of extreme events. We also require improved long-term observations and assessment of the effects of climate change on diverse water uses and on the state of ecosystems and their services.

Reducing GHG emissions and enhancing carbon sinks in primary production and natural systems are key elements of the European Green Deal. Achieving sustainable land management and efficient use of natural resources that foster climate change mitigation implies finding the right balance between productivity, climate, biodiversity and environmental goals in the agriculture and forestry sectors, with a long-term perspective. R&I activities will support solutions for climate- and environmentally-friendly practices, to reduce emissions of major greenhouse gases and the environmental footprint of land use changes and agricultural activities. R&I, new technologies and business models are expected to unlock the full potential of LULUCF[[LULUCF stands for land use, land use change and forestry.]] activities in the mitigation of climate change. Results of funded activities will benefit land and forest management and the delivery of multiple services provided by land and forests, such as the provision of goods as long-term carbon stocks in harvested wood products, peatlands and wetlands, the protection of soils, water and biodiversity and finally climate change adaptation and mitigation. Ocean is also a large storage system for the global reservoirs of climate-regulating factors. R&I will advance knowledge innovations to foster ocean-based solutions/mitigation options, helping to close the emissions gap.

Climate action calls also for fostering adaptation to climate change of ecosystems, primary production, food systems and the bioeconomy. Climate change is exacerbating existing risks to livelihoods, biodiversity, human and ecosystem health, infrastructure and food systems. There are growing concerns regarding the role of climate change in the spreading of new plant and terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases, which can jeopardise food safety and security. Human activities relying on the availability and use of water are particularly impacted by variable and extreme weather events, which may at the same time lead to desertification. Agriculture and forestry in the EU are vulnerable to climate change. There is in particular growing evidence about the effects of climate change, and of extreme weather events, on agricultural production and crop yields, which need to be mitigated, and also on the forest sector. Coastal areas are also threatened by sea level rise, saline water intrusion, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, extreme events and a shrinking cryosphere. R&I will, therefore, be critical to foster adaptation and build resilience in agriculture, forestry and coastal areas. They will aim to deliver on the urgent need to foster the adaptation of primary production, notably by providing farmers and other actors in bioeconomy value chains with better-adapted crop varieties and animal breeds with lower impacts on the related ecosystems. R&I efforts are critical to avoiding, reducing and reversing desertification. Water adaptation strategies and approaches will be developed and tested. Appropriate solutions including water allocation schemes will be developed for businesses, farmers and ecosystems. Potential trade-offs, and measures to mitigate and avoid them, will be assessed to ensure environmental sustainability and to keep the objectives of enhancing soil fertility, increasing carbon storage in soils and biomass, benefitting agricultural productivity and food security and reducing biodiversity loss. R&I will also aim at better understanding how institutions and behaviour shape vulnerability and offer opportunities for adaptation.

Expected impacts

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to climate action on land, oceans and water and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Better understanding and enhancing the mitigation potential of ecosystems and sectors based on the sustainable management of natural resources;
  • Advanced understanding and science to support adaptation and resilience of natural and managed ecosystems, water and soil systems and economic sectors in the context of the changing climate;
  • Efficient monitoring, assessment and projections related to climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation potential in order to bring out solutions for tackling emerging threats and support decision-making in climate change mitigation and adaptation policies at European and global levels;
  • Fostered climate change mitigation in the primary sector , including by the reduction of GHG emissions, maintenance of natural carbon sinks and enhancement of sequestration and storage of carbon in ecosystems;
  • Improved adaptive capacity of water and soil systems and sectors including by unlocking the potential of nature-based solutions;
  • Better managed scarce resources, in particular soils and water, thus mitigating climate related risks, in particular desertification and erosion, thanks to informed decision-makers and stakeholders and integration of adaptation measures in relevant EU policies.

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.

This destination contributes to support R&I on climate for areas covered by Cluster 6 notably on the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions while Destination “Climate sciences and responses for the transformation towards climate neutrality” in Cluster 5 concentrates on activities related to climate science and modelling.

Topics under this destination will have impacts in the following impact areas of the Horizon Europe strategic plan for 2021-2024 [[Footnote indicating link to the document.]]: “Climate change mitigation and adaptation”; “Enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity on land and in water”; “Clean and healthy air, water and soil”; “Sustainable food systems from farm to fork on land and sea”; ”A resilient EU prepared for emerging threats”; “A secure and open EU society”; and “Inclusive growth and new job opportunities”.

Link Link to Programme
Call
Agroecological approaches for climate change mitigation, resilient agricultural production and enhanced biodiversity
Description of call
"Agroecological approaches for climate change mitigation, resilient agricultural production and enhanced biodiversity"

Expected Outcome:

A successful proposal should contribute to the European Green Deal and international objectives to foster climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture. It should in particular support the farm to fork's strategy objective of a transition to a fair, healthy and resilient European agriculture, notably its objective to promote agroecology, by unfolding its potential as a farming system based on the sustainable management of natural resources. Activities should improve the knowledge base to inform decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders on how agroecology can contribute to these objectives, while remaining a profitable activity for farmers.

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Increased and robust evidence of the potential of agroecology for climate change (mitigation and adaptation), its climate neutrality potential, impact on biodiversity, and the potential for improving farm socio-economic resilience. This should be achieved through quantitative and qualitative assessments allowing to identify and monitor the implementation and performance of optimal combinations of agroecological practices and strategies, as well as trade-offs or gains, barriers and drivers, for different crops and systems representative of the diversity of EU and Associated Countries farming, and at the farm and landscape level;
  • Qualitative and quantitative data availability of the social, economic and environmental sustainability and performance of agroecological strategies, contributing to a dependable and transparent knowledge base for EU policy design and implementation (common agricultural policy (CAP), European Green Deal, objectives of the farm to fork and biodiversity strategies, etc.);
  • Increased understanding, adoption and implementation of agroecological practices by farmers;
  • Improved understanding of the definition of agroecology and of its application to EU and Associated Countries farming.

Scope:

Achieving sustainable agricultural production that fosters both climate change mitigation and adaptation of agriculture to climate change is a policy objective that implies finding a balance with productivity and wider sustainability goals, such as preserving and enhancing biodiversity. Agroecology can provide an important contribution to achieving these objectives, while at the same time enhancing food and nutrition security, thus contributing to achieving the objectives of the farm to fork and biodiversity strategies and the Sustainable Development Goals. Agroecology is a holistic approach that relies on and maximises the use of ecological processes to support agricultural production. By working more with nature and ecosystem services, agroecology has the potential to increase the circularity, diversification and autonomy of farms, and drive a full transformation of farming systems, from input substitution and beyond. The effectiveness of agroecology is context-specific and practices need to be implemented on a significant proportion of farms to deliver tangible impacts on sustainability. Specific methods and indicators are needed to monitor and quantify the positive effects of these practices on climate change mitigation and adaptation at the farm and landscape levels, along with its impacts on yield stability, farm viability and biodiversity, for different farming systems and pedo-climatic conditions. Moreover, improving farmers’ uptake of agroecological practices calls for specific support measures and for the design of specific business cases at the farm and landscape levels.

Activities should improve knowledge of the contribution of agroecological practices to climate change mitigation, increased adaptation of farming to climate change, and preservation and enhancement of biodiversity, while ensuring farm profitability, thus providing an important contribution to policy design. Proposals should cover the wide range of crops and farming systems present in the EU and Associated Countries agricultural sector, from conventional to organic. Proposals must implement the 'multi-actor approach', and ensure adequate involvement of the farming sector. Projects funded under this topic should build on the results of relevant projects funded under Horizon 2020 and should ensure collaboration with projects funded under calls HORIZON-CL6-2022-FARM2FORK-02-01-two-stage: Agroecological approaches for sustainable weed management and HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01-03: Digitalisation as an enabler of agroecological farming systems in this work programme.

Proposals should identify, evaluate and deliver a method that allows identification of the optimal combinations of agroecological practices and the most suitable agroecological strategies that efficiently contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation while ensuring biodiversity preservation or enhancement and overall farm profitability. Proposals should improve existing indicators and develop new ones where relevant, to monitor and measure the qualitative and quantitative impacts of these strategies, including their climate neutrality potential and trade-offs or gains in biodiversity, and the associated improvement in farm socio-economic resilience. Proposals should develop tools to identify and monitor both the implementation of agroecological practices in farm management and the full-farm agroecological approaches, analysing the scale-dependent effects from farm to landscape level, as well as the opportunities and challenges derived from regulation and market aspects. Proposals should develop and test innovative mechanisms to accompany farmers in implementing and/or switching to agroecological practices that contribute to mitigating climate change and other negative environmental impacts. Proposals should undertake an analysis of the social, environmental and economic sustainability performance of such strategies and analyse the potential to integrate such practices in business cases at farm level, including exploring the potential of labelling of products linked to agroecological practices in support of and complying with the current relevant legal framework and, where the scope of activities would cover the food system, the future EU framework for food sustainability labelling to promote and scale-up their uptake.

This topic requires 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, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Administration & Governance, Competitiveness, SME, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management
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), Public Services, Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Start Up Company, International Organization, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union
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.
Call opens 22.06.2021
Call closes 06.10.2021
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 7.00 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 7.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%

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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