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Call: User-oriented solutions building on environmental observation to monitor critical ecosystems and biodiversity loss and vulnerability in the European Union

Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 7: Innovative Governance, Environmental Oberservations and Digital Solutions in Support of the Green Deal"

Transformative changes such as the ones required within the Green Deal are dynamic processes that require appropriate governance. At the same time, to ensure coordination and for collaborative decision-making, governance requires multiple channels and networks that provide readily available data and information coming from different sources.

R&I activities under this destination aim at both: experimenting with new ways to govern the transition process and modernising the governance, in particular by making information and knowledge available and accessible. R&I for governance to support the Green Deal shall provide insights into institutional barriers such as lock-ins, path dependency, political and cultural inertia power imbalances and regulatory inconsistencies or weaknesses.

Innovative governance supporting the Green Deal objectives needs to recognise, cope with and promote resilience in the face of on-going shocks and disruptions both globally and across Europe, whether these be climatic, ecological, economic, social, geo-political or related to health. Critical risk assessment and reduction strategies need to be incorporated, including the diversification of infrastructures, resources and knowledge through more self-sufficiency and autonomy.

Taking advantage of the use, uptake, deployment and exploitation of environmental observations[[The capacity to observe the environment, including space-based, in-situ-based (air, sea, land) observation, and citizen observations]] as well as digital solutions, assessed through the “do not harm” principle of the Green Deal, is key for innovative governance models and a more science-based policy design, implementation and monitoring. To maximise impacts of R&I on the ground and spark behavioural and socio-economic change, the knowledge and innovation produced throughout the whole cluster should be widely disseminated to key stakeholders of the relevant sectors of the cluster. In particular, the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) needs to be reinforced to accelerate the required transformative changes.

Data and information obtained through Environmental Observation is of great value when assessing the state of the planet and is delivering crucial information to support the Green Deal and the climate and ecological transition. Integration of this information from different sources (space-based, airborne including drones, in-situ and citizens observations) with other relevant data and knowledge while ensuring (better) accessible, interoperable or deployable information, delivers information necessary for shaping the direction of the development of policies in the broad context of Cluster 6 of Horizon Europe. A strong link to the European Earth observations programme Copernicus (in Cluster 4) and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth observation programme, as well as support to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), its European regional initiative (EuroGEO) and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) is foreseen for topics on environmental observations under this destination. R&I activities relevant to ocean, seas and coastal waters will complement and support the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and UN Decade on Restoration, the G7 Future of the Seas and Oceans Initiative, the pan-Commission Destination Earth initiative, the European Global Ocean Observing System (EOOS) and the GOOS 2030 strategy.

Digital innovation, in complementarity with Cluster 4 and Digital Europe Programmes activities, should bring benefits for citizens, businesses, researchers, the environment, society at large and policy-makers. The potential of the ongoing digital transformation, and its wider impacts, positive and negative, need to be better understood and monitored in view of future policy design and implementation, governance, and solution development

This destination will develop innovative digital and data based solutions to support communities and society at large, and economic sectors relevant for this cluster to achieve sustainability objectives. R&I activities will add value to the knowledge and cost-effectiveness of innovative technologies in and across primary production sectors, food systems, bioeconomy, ocean and biodiversity.

Knowledge and advice to all actors relevant to this cluster are key to improve sustainability. For instance, primary producers have a particular need for impartial and tailored advice on sustainable management choices. Knowledge and Innovation Systems are key drivers to enhance co-creation and thus speed up innovation and the take-up of results needed to achieve the Green Deal objectives and targets. This will include promoting interactive innovation and co-ownership of results by users, as well as strengthening synergies with other EU Funds in particular the CAP, reinforcing the multi-actor approach and setting up structural networking within national/regional/local AKISs. AKIS goes beyond agriculture, farming and rural activities and covers environment, climate, biodiversity, landscape, bio-based economy, consumers and citizens, i.e., all food and bio-based systems including transformation and distribution chains up until the consumer.

Expected impacts

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to innovative governance and sound decision making in policy for the green transition, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Innovative governance models enabling sustainability and resilience notably to achieve better informed decision-making processes, societal engagement and innovation;
  • Green Deal related domains benefit from further deployment and exploitation of Environmental Observation data and products ;
  • A strengthened Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) [[The European Commission is a member and co-chair of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), as such the European Commission adopted the GEO Canberra Declaration ( and Commission Decision C(2019)7337/F1) and committed to contribute to the GEO objectives, including to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).]];
  • Sustainability performance and competitiveness in the domains covered by Cluster 6 are enhanced through further deployment of digital and data technologies as key enablers;
  • More informed and engaged stakeholders and end users including primary producers and consumers thanks to effective platforms such as Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS)
  • Strengthened EU and international science-policy interfaces to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

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 areas: “Climate change mitigation and adaptation”; “Clean and healthy air, water and soil”; “Enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity on land and in water”; “Sustainable food systems from farm to fork on land and sea”; “High quality digital services for all”; and “A Competitive and secure data-economy”.

Social innovation is recommended when the solution is at the socio-technical interface and requires social change, new social practices, social ownership or market uptake.

Link Link to Programme
User-oriented solutions building on environmental observation to monitor critical ecosystems and biodiversity loss and vulnerability in the European Union
Description of call
"User-oriented solutions building on environmental observation to monitor critical ecosystems and biodiversity loss and vulnerability in the European Union"

Expected Outcome:

A successful proposal will support the delivery of services and solutions for the implementation of the European Green Deal and the biodiversity strategy, through the deployment and exploitation of environmental observations, benefiting a broad range of end users and helping them restore biodiversity and ecosystems under threat, thus contributing to the global observation and monitoring of the living realm.

Proposals are expected to contribute to at least four of the following outcomes:

  • Better informed policy formulation for biodiversity & ecosystem services on European/national and regional level, built on enhanced understanding of better quantified and characterised changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services and the prediction of their trajectories;
  • Enhanced understanding of the adverse cumulative impacts of climate change and anthropogenic activities on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and in particular on habitats and key species at risk of extinction in sensitive ecosystems to define enhanced management, adaptation and mitigation actions;
  • Enhanced planning and ecosystem-based management of land and sea with the objectives to minimise the adverse effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities on ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • Dependable data, information and knowledge to support adaptation and mitigation of biodiversity loss resulting from climate change and anthropogenic activities, through maximised exploitation of information and data from European data infrastructures, European programmes (such as EMODnet and European research infrastructures) and GEO initiatives;
  • Support to the development of the European service sector regarding end-user climate services related to biodiversity and ecosystems and deliver usable results to the monitoring framework of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030;
  • A contribution to the EC-ESA joint Earth system science initiative (in particular to the flagship action on biodiversity and ocean health);
  • Improved governance of biodiversity monitoring and reporting, in particular together with the ‘Rescuing biodiversity to safeguard live on Earth’ partnership, the EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity and GEOBON.


The projects are expected to further the harmonisation, mobilisation, and uptake of monitoring and environmental data to better characterise and understand the natural and anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity, the extent of the destruction of natural biological resources and its connection with ecosystem conditions within safe planetary boundaries. There is a need for knowledge of both better quantified and more precisely characterised changes in biodiversity and related ecosystem services (in coastal, marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems), and of ecosystem status and quantified impacts of the main direct drivers of changes (i.e. land and sea use changes, pollutions, climate change, invasive alien species and exploitation of natural resources) on European natural capital.

The projects should deliver new Earth observation (EO) data services building on the potential of EO capabilities in order to address end-user needs facing the deterioration and destruction of their living environment and ecosystems. The projects under this topic should tackle issues raised within the European Green Deal calls and provide solutions to halt biodiversity loss and protect vulnerable ecosystems, and ensuring ecosystem capacity to continue to provide services to society and the environment. The projects should make mapping tools and information solutions available, which are needed by a wide variety of end users in order to meet targets for conservation and restoration of diverse terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems. Hence, the development of tools to support decision-making and participatory management are crucial in this context. Solutions related to improving ecosystem health and resilience should be integrated into best practice monitoring activities within respective monitoring governance schemes. This should enable stakeholders and policy makers to take the right conservation and restoration measures, in particular with the use of a holistic ecosystem-based management in response to the urgent need for halting biodiversity loss and, consequently, alterations to ecosystem functions and sustain the delivery of precious ecosystem services.

Building on existing services and frameworks provided through GEO, EuroGEO, European research infrastructures, European Ocean Observing Systems, EMODnet, Copernicus, ESA Earth Observation programmes and EGNSS, this topic should address the downstream part of the value chain to support mitigation and adaptation to climate change impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. The consortia should engage with end users and stakeholders, contribute to customising of data and exploitation platforms, deliver scaling-up and replication of existing service models, and brokerage of knowledge and dissemination to the public. The successful proposals should build on outcomes of EU funded projects such as Horizon 2020 projects like ECOPOTENTIAL, initiatives like EuropaBON and programmes like LIFE, and should feed into the EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity, and deliver usable results to the monitoring framework of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030.

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, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Administration & Governance, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management, Rural & Peripheral Development, Regional Development & Regional Planning
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Public Services, 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 3.00 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 20.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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