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TYPE OF ACTION: (RIA) Research and Innovation action

TOTAL INDICATIVE AMOUNT ALLOCATED TO THIS CALL: EUR 34.7 million

OPENING DATE: Stage 1 Pre-proposals – 25 Jan, 2024

DEADLINE:

Stage 1 Pre-proposals – 04 April, 2024 17:00h Central European Time (CET)
Stage 2 Full proposals –  26 September 2024 17:00h Central European Time (CET) 

STATUS: Open

Water management in the Nexus

Alignment with SRIA

Alignment with EU policies

Thematic area 1 Water management

1.2 Sustainable, integrated water management

European Green Deal,

Water Framework Directive (WFD)

Thematic Area 1-Water management in the Nexus

 

Topic 2.1.1-2024 (RIA*) Effective water accounting approaches under crisis conditions: climate change and external shocks [1]

[1], Please note that the acronym RIA is used  for Section 2. While the rules used in Section 2 are to some extent based on the Horizon 2020 RfP, specific rules, concerning participation and funding rates, apply. As the projects selected in Section 2 are funded directly by the national funding bodies, they will be subject to the respective national regulations. For more details regarding the rules for Section 2 please refer to the guidelines for applicants on the PRIMA website.

 

In Mediterranean countries, sustainable, equitable and reliable delivery of water to households, agriculture, and other water-using sectors, ensuring at the same time adequate environmental flows, has become increasingly complex because of water scarcity and shortages. This is further exacerbated by the impact of climate change and, more recently, the worsening of the food and energy crises caused by external shocks like the Covid-19 pandemic and then the war in Ukraine. These crises, in fact, can disrupt water supply systems, create new demands for water, and worsen existing water-related issues such as water scarcity and contamination.

Water accounting[1] is an essential aspect of water management, particularly in times of crisis, where demand for water often outstrips available supply, since it can provide a better understanding of changes in the hydrological cycle, variations in water availability caused by climate (e.g., floods and droughts) and/or other types of shocks, demand of the different users and access to the resource, investments needed in water infrastructure, etc., allowing for more accurate analyses, more informed decision-making and better governance.

Such frameworks are highly needed in many areas of the Mediterranean, where water policies, planning, investment, and allocation are weak but water scarcity and depletion, as well as competition/conflict among users are high, to help develop a common understanding of the state of water resources among stakeholders and identify water related problems and solutions, including at the transboundary/international level.

However, there are often various constraints to implementing effective water accounting practices, one of which is acceptance by users, that can lead to the illicit use of other resources, such as groundwater or surface water, to avoid paying for water. To address this issue, it is important to build trust and transparency with water users, and to communicate the benefits of proper water accounting practices.

[1] The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations defines water accounting as “the systematic acquisition, analysis and communication of information relating to stocks, flows, and fluxes of water (from source to sinks) in natural, disturbed or heavily engineered environments, within a geographical domain such as an irrigation system, river basin or country” (FAO, 2016).

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This call aims to promote innovative water accounting approaches that can enhance the gathering, analysis and communication of information related to water flows, fluxes, stocks, and consumption in selected watersheds/basins, with a view to improving the management of water resources, even in the face of changing climate as well as geopolitical and socio-economic shocks.  To this end, projects should consider the following activities:

  • Make use of real-time monitoring and leverage new technologies and data sources, including remote sensing, big data analytics, machine learning, block chain, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, to provide more accurate information on water availability and use,
  • Define target levels of sustainable water withdrawal and consumption for water using sectors and/or users (including ecosystems), that match the available resources and natural recharge patterns,
  • Multi-scale (from local to regional) biophysical analyses, climate studies and modelling delivering robust quantitative estimates of water balance components (water accounts) for the selected demonstration sites.
  • Create networks of researchers, water users (incl. farmers and water users’ associations) and managers, policymakers and other stakeholders, adopting a multi/actor approach which considers their needs and perspectives, to share knowledge and improve water decision making and governance, based on the analysis of water related information.
  • Implement awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing initiatives that promote the use of water accounting to facilitate a shared understanding of the state of water resources and related issues among stakeholders, incentivise proper water use and discourage illicit
  • Incorporate economic valuation and the analysis of use-cost-price scenarios into water accounting with a view to improving pricing mechanisms and regulatory frameworks and increasing willingness to pay for the different uses and property rights.
  • Develop insurance programs and models to be employed under water scarcity conditions.

 

Projects selected within this call shall produce a joint policy brief that aligns with the call’s scope and objectives with the aim to translate the main lessons learnt, knowledge and evidence generated through project work into key messages for policy makers. Other forms of collaboration, including data sharing, communication and dissemination, joint deliverables, events, etc., between funded projects are strongly encouraged.

 

  • Improvement of water security and preservation of environmental flows in the Mediterranean region through increased knowledge of patterns of water availability, demand, and distribution.
  • Adoption of sustainable, effective strategies to address water scarcity in different biophysical and societal contexts based on a thorough understanding of the water balance.
  • Better and more transparent decision-making, equitable and balanced water allocations based on the real trade-offs and costs of water supply to different users and sectors in different sectors (urban, agricultural, etc.), while preserving efficiency and productivity.
  • Increased resilience by identifying and addressing water-related risks, such as water scarcity and variability through innovative water accounting approaches.
  • Revision of insurance programs, as well as reallocation of subsidies to vulnerable population and/or strategic sectors based on new subsidy mechanisms to avoid fraud and illicit uses of water.
  • Innovation in pricing and cost recovery mechanisms and instruments for the sustainability of water supply services (e.g., climate price in case of drought and or external shocks) considering the water accounts and footprints.
  • Sustainable Water Scarcity Strategies Adoption KPI (within the project):

Baseline: Number of existing sustainable strategies within the project.

Target: Adopt sustainable strategies within the project based on a thorough understanding of the water balance in various biophysical and societal contexts.

  • Transparency and Equity in Water Allocation KPI (within the project): Percentage improvement in transparency and equity in water allocation decision-making within the project.

Baseline: Baseline levels of transparency and equity in water allocation decisions within the project.

Target: Achieve improvement in transparency and equity in water allocations within the project, considering trade-offs and costs to different users and sectors while preserving efficiency and productivity.

  • Water-Related Risk Reduction and Resilience KPI (within the project): Percentage reduction in water-related risks identified and addressed within the project.

Baseline: Baseline levels of identified water-related risks within the project.

Target: Identify and address water-related risks within the project, such as water scarcity and variability, through innovative water accounting approaches to increase resilience.

  • Water Productivity and Awareness KPI (within the project): Increase in water productivity in selected water-using domains, watersheds, or basins and water footprint in relation to the initial/reference situation (SMART approach).

Baseline: Initial water productivity and water footprint levels within the project.

Target: Achieve increase in water productivity and conduct awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing campaigns within the project with quantified targets for stakeholder involvement.

The proposals should indicate linkages to relevant EU policies and objectives in the context of the European Green Deal and relevant Horizon Europe Missions and Partnerships European .

 

The proposals should contribute to the achievement of several SDGs related to water management and sustainable development. These include:

  • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 14: Life Below Water
  • SDG 15: Life on Land

Farming systems in the Nexus

Alignment with SRIA

Alignment with EU policies

Topic 2.2.1 (RIA*) Revitalizing agroforestry practices for sustainable land use and climate resilience in the Mediterranean Region.

Agroforestry[1] is a dynamic management system that combines trees with crops and/or livestock on the same land, based on ecological principles. It offers a dual benefit by promoting sustainable food production while contributing to carbon sequestration, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing agricultural system resilience. By integrating agroforestry into agricultural practices, it becomes an essential component of the agroecological transition towards sustainable farming and food systems.

Despite its numerous advantages, agroforestry faces considerable challenges in the Mediterranean region, which hinder its widespread adoption and long-term sustainability. One critical issue within agroforestry is the abandonment of forest maintenance practices due to the perception of their lack of economic rewards. This trend has led to unchecked forest growth, significantly increasing the risk of devastating forest fires, particularly in the Mediterranean region’s arid and fire-prone climate.

Smallholder farmers, especially, grapple with the need to identify economically viable alternatives to boost income and farm productivity within agroforestry systems. Moreover, the limited availability of knowledge and technical expertise poses substantial obstacles to the successful adoption and effective management of these intricate systems. By addressing these challenges and providing targeted support, the adoption and success of agroforestry systems can be enhanced. This includes providing technical assistance, knowledge transfer, and financial support to small farmers. Creating favourable policies and institutional frameworks that facilitate access to credit and support services is crucial. Moreover, establishing market linkages and improving market access for agroforestry products can contribute to the economic viability and sustainability of agroforestry systems.

[1] According to the FAO, ‘Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc.) are deliberately used on the same land-management units as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence.

This call for proposals aims to support the revitalization of agroforestry systems, including silvo-arable and silvo-pastoral agroforestry, in the Mediterranean region. The objective is to identify innovative strategies and overcome barriers to the adoption and scaling up of agroforestry practices.

Proposals should focus on identifying and potentially testing innovative agroforestry systems in different demonstration sites, which may include a combination of crops, trees, and animals. The aim is to identify more efficient, productive, and sustainable models, practices and strategies tailored to specific factors such as climate, soil type, market demand, and environmental benefits. This includes considering the benefits of agroforestry systems and landscape management in promoting ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, soil health protection and restoration, water regulation, and biodiversity conservation. Proposals should also assess the impacts on soil health and conduct thorough assessments of the environmental, social, and economic impacts of different agroforestry practices, using indicators aligned with the Mission Soil and the Proposal for a Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience[1].

Proposals should connect with farming practices supported by the Common Agricultural Policy CAP, such as eco-schemes, and quantify the impacts of such farming practices over time. Additionally, the proposals should identify the technical, policy, and socioeconomic barriers preventing the adoption of sustainable agroforestry practices in the Mediterranean region. This should include an analysis of the regulatory and institutional frameworks governing land use and forestry, as well as the financial and technical support mechanisms available to farmers.

Proposals should identify the appropriate ways to identify and improve traditional agroforestry practices, which may include the adaptation of existing machinery and equipment to match the needs of the farmers with the real field conditions. This could involve the use of precision agriculture techniques, such as remote sensing and GPS mapping, to optimize resource use and reduce waste. Proposals could consider water reuse and waste management within a circular bioeconomy context, which could include the use of composting and other sustainable waste management practices to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural activities.

To promote the adoption of sustainable agroforestry practices, proposals should aim to raise awareness and enhance understanding among various stakeholders, including farmers, policymakers, and the general public. This can be achieved through the development of comprehensive training programs, outreach initiatives, and educational materials that are gender-sensitive and tailored to the needs and preferences of women farmers. Special emphasis should be placed on empowering women in agroforestry through training and capacity-building programs that enable them to take on leadership roles within their communities and the agroforestry sector as a whole. Proposals are recommended to use a “multi-actor approach” to include a wide range of actors to ensure that knowledge and needs from various sectors, such as research, farmers, advisory services, are brought together.

Proposals should also investigate ways to improve market access and value chain development for agroforestry products, such as certification schemes, branding, and new business models.

Projects are expected to build links with the Mission “A Soil Deal for Europe”. Proposals should include dedicated tasks and appropriate resources for coordination measures and joint activities with relevant projects funded by the Mission. Proposals should set a clear plan on how they will collaborate with other PRIMA and EU funded projects in agroforestry by participating in joint and common communication and dissemination activities.

This topic presents a comprehensive framework for advancing sustainable agroforestry practices in the Mediterranean region, encompassing diverse elements including innovation, impact assessment, policy formulation, and the cultivation of awareness. Projects selected within this call shall produce a joint policy brief that aligns with the call’s scope and objectives with the aim to translate the main lessons learnt, knowledge and evidence generated through project work into key messages for policy makers. Other forms of collaboration, including data sharing, communication and dissemination, joint deliverables, events, etc., between funded projects are strongly encouraged.

 

[1] A Soil Deal for Europe 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030 Implementation Plan_ Proposed indicators for soil health in support of the mission page 69-70 (https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2021-09/soil_mission_implementation_plan_final_for_publication.pdf)

  • The project results are expected to contribute to:

    • Increased adoption of sustainable agroforestry practices: among farmers in the Mediterranean region, which can lead to increased tree cover on farmland and improved landscape resilience.
    • Improved agricultural productivity.
    • Improved soil health, biodiversity and ecosystem services: such as fertility, carbon sequestration or water use efficiency.
    • Increased resilience to climate change by providing a buffer against extreme weather events, enhancing soil fertility and moisture retention, and providing a diverse range of crops and livestock.
    • Improved livelihoods for farmers.
    • Grouping of needs and challenges (technical, political, socio-economic).
    • Develop and document new agroforestry practices to enhance system efficiency, productivity, or sustainability KPI.

    Baseline: Existing agroforestry practices in the region.

    Target: Develop and document at least two new agroforestry practices during the project.

    • Create and distribute at least 5 unique learning materials each year, including training programs, outreach initiatives, and educational materials KPI.

    Baseline: The number of learning materials and engagement initiatives prior to the project.

    Target: Engage a minimum of 100 individuals annually through these resources.

    • Ensure that women have equal access to project resources KPI, as evidenced by an increase in the percentage of women beneficiaries over the project duration.

    Baseline: At the project’s inception, identify the percentage of women beneficiaries

    Target: Increase the percentage of women beneficiaries by the end of the project.

The proposals should indicate linkages to relevant EU policies and objectives in the context of the European Green Deal and relevant Horizon Europe Missions and Partnerships, in particular with A soil Deal for Europe,European the mission ‘’ Specific Objective 2 “Conserve soil organic carbon stocks” and Specific Objective 6 ‘’Improve soil structure to enhance soil biodiversity’’. Links with the HE candidate partnerships on Forests and forestry for a sustainable Future and with EU Partnership under Horizon Europe One Health AMR should be also made.

The proposals should indicate their contribution to relevant SDGs and methodology to contribute to reporting SDG indicators in particular:

  • SDG 2 – Zero Hunger.
  • SDG 13 – Climate Action
  • SDG 15 – Life on Land
  • SDG 1 – No Poverty
  • SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth

Food value chain in the Nexus

Alignment with SRIA

Alignment with EU policies

-Thematic area 2, Operational Objective 4 (Smart and Sustainable Farming),

-Thematic area 3, Operational Objective 8 (New Agri-Food Business Models)

-Research priorities 3, To integrate small producers into formal supply channels and improve supply chain management to better link agricultural producers to urban markets and reduce post-harvest losses while increasing the adoption of technological, organisational and cultural innovations, as well as new strategies and business models, with the final goal of enhancing their competitiveness and their contribution to Mediterranean food security

Farm to Fork Strategy

Biodiversity Strategy

Topic 2.3.1 (RIA)[1] Leveraging urban and local food systems for sustainable food systems transformation.

[1] Please note that the acronym RIA is used both for Section 1 and Section 2. In Section 1 the rules applying to these actions are the standard Horizon 2020 rules for participation (RfP). While the rules used in Section 2 are to some extent based on the Horizon 2020 RfP, specific rules, concerning participation and funding rates, apply. As the projects selected in Section 2 are funded directly by the national funding bodies, they will be subject to the respective national regulations. For more details regarding the rules for Section 2, please refer to the guidelines for applicants on the PRIMA website.

The Mediterranean region is one of the areas in the world most exposed to the combined effects of urban growth and climate change. The total population of the Mediterranean is predicted to reach 572 million by 2030[1] and remain concentrated in cities and on coastlines. As the Mediterranean region continues to face the challenges of urbanization and climate change, farmers markets have the potential to contribute significantly to the sustainability of food systems in the region. By providing direct access to fresh, locally grown food, farmers markets can enhance food security and safety, promote sustainable production and consumption practices, and reduce the environmental impact of food production and transportation. In addition, farmers markets can contribute to the economic development of local communities by supporting smallholder farmers and promoting local food systems. This can help to create new job opportunities and income streams, while also preserving traditional food cultures and practices that are an important part of the region’s cultural heritage. To fully leverage the potential of farmers markets for sustainable food systems transformation in the Mediterranean region, it is important to develop supportive policy frameworks and infrastructure that support the development and operation of these systems. This includes policies that promote the establishment of new markets, ensure fair competition with other retailers, and provide financial and technical support for market operators. Infrastructure such as market facilities, storage and transportation systems, and information and communication technologies are also critical for the success of farmers markets.

[1] Eurostat. (2019). Population on 1 January by age, sex and NUTS 2 region. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-datasets/-/demo_r_d3densreg.

 

Proposals should aim to strengthen regulatory frameworks for urban and peri-urban agriculture, paying particular attention to the unique challenges faced in the Southern Mediterranean countries. This includes addressing issues related to land use planning, zoning regulations, and the socio-economic aspects of land access. Policies should not only consider but actively incorporate gender-sensitive approaches to issues such as food safety, product labelling, and certification requirements.

Furthermore, proposals should emphasize the role of incentives in encouraging sustainable practices among farmers and food producers. They should also outline comprehensive strategies for integrating agriculture into urban landscapes through effective spatial management and multi-activity planning, ensuring that these approaches foster inclusivity.

Recognizing the significance of informal markets, proposals should pay special attention to these crucial components of the food system. Improving and formalizing informal markets should be a part of the broader strategy for strengthening food systems.

Infrastructure and efficient distribution networks are essential for robust food systems. Therefore, proposals should explore innovative strategies for developing new distribution channels, including those that cater to informal markets. Leveraging information and communication technologies (ICT) to optimize food supply chains is encouraged, as is the inclusion of comprehensive plans to reduce food loss and waste, with particular attention to informal market practices.

 

Proposals should also delve into circular bioeconomy principles, such as composting organic waste and reusing water for irrigation. These principles may require the introduction of new technologies and training initiatives. It is essential to ensure that these initiatives are accessible and beneficial for all members of society, including those involved in informal markets. Applicants should adopt the Multi-actor Approach (MAA)[1] approaches in their proposal. The multi-actor approach described here aims to make the R&I process and its outcomes more reliable, demand driven, shared and relevant to society. It also aims to have these outcomes shared more extensively. This entails more than just widely disseminating a project’s results or listening to the views of a board of stakeholders. A multi-actor project ensures the genuine and sufficient involvement of a targeted array of actors, which serves the objectives of the topic.

Finally, in alignment with the Food 2030 Pathways for action (in particular the Governance and systems change as well as Urban food system transformation pathways), proposals should integrate a robust ‘food and nutrition governance’ component. This involves policies promoting food safety, addressing nutritional needs, and considering public health impacts.

Projects selected within this call shall produce a joint policy brief that aligns with the call’s scope and objectives with the aim to translate the main lessons learnt, knowledge and evidence generated through project work into key messages for policy makers. Other forms of collaboration, including data sharing, communication and dissemination, joint deliverables, events, etc., between funded projects are strongly encouraged.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/horizon/wp-call/2023-2024/wp-9-food-bioeconomy-natural-resources-agriculture-and-environment_horizon-2023-2024_en.pdf agri_agricultural_knowledge_and_innovation_systems_akis_2021_en_web.pdf

  • Enhanced Regulatory Frameworks: Improved regulatory frameworks for urban and peri-urban agriculture, addressing the specific challenges in Southern Mediterranean countries. These frameworks will facilitate sustainable land use planning, zoning regulations, and socio-economic aspects, fostering a more resilient and productive food system.
  • Integration of Agriculture into Urban Landscapes: Effective integration of agriculture into urban areas through spatial management and multi-activity planning, promoting inclusivity and ensuring that urban environments support sustainable food production.
  • Formalization of Informal Markets: Improved informal markets through formalization efforts, enhancing their role in strengthening local food systems. This will contribute to increased access to fresh, locally sourced produce.
  • Innovative Distribution Channels: The development of innovative distribution channels, including leveraging information and communication technologies (ICT), to optimize food supply chains. This will result in more efficient and sustainable food distribution.
  • Reduced Food Loss and Waste: Effective plans for reducing food loss and waste, with a specific focus on practices within informal markets. This will contribute to improved food system sustainability and resource efficiency.
  • Circular Bioeconomy Practices: Adoption of circular bioeconomy principles, such as composting organic waste and reusing water for irrigation. The introduction of new technologies and training initiatives will make these practices accessible and beneficial to all.
  • Increased collaboration and engagement with diverse stakeholders: leading to increased collaboration, engagement, and citizen support.
  • Comprehensive Food Policies> As part of the Food 2030 Governance and systems change Pathway, comprehensive policies that encompass food safety, nutrition requirements, and impacts on public health should be formulated.
      • Policy Recommendations for Urban Agriculture KPI: Number of policy recommendations made to improve regulatory frameworks for urban and peri-urban agriculture addressing the specific challenges in Southern Mediterranean countries.

      Baseline: Existing policy recommendations.

      Target: Elaborate policy recommendations that support the development of urban and peri-urban agriculture with a focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

      • Infrastructure and Food Supply Chain Enhancement KPI: Percentage improvement in infrastructure and distribution networks for short and efficient food supply chains within urban and peri-urban areas.

      Baseline: Baseline levels of infrastructure and distribution network efficiency.

      Target: Achieve a specified percentage improvement in infrastructure and distribution network efficiency to reduce food loss and waste and enhance sustainability and resilience in urban and peri-urban food systems.

      • Number of new distribution channels KPI:

      Baseline: Existing distribution channels

      Target: The proposals should establish new distribution channels increasing their market access, consumer acceptance and commercialization that can help to assess how well these channels are meeting the needs and preferences of consumers.

      • Stakeholder Collaboration and Inclusivity KPI: Percentage increase in collaboration and engagement with diverse stakeholders, including women and marginalized groups, in food systems transformation.

      Baseline: Baseline levels of collaboration and engagement with diverse stakeholders.

      Target: Achieve a minimum 15% increase in collaboration and engagement with diverse stakeholders, leading to enhanced inclusivity and gender equality in food systems transformation.

The proposals should indicate linkages to relevant EU policies and objectives in the context of the European Green Deal, Farm to Fork strategy in alignment with the Food 2030 Governance and systems change Pathway, and  relevant Horizon Europe Cluster 6 Work Programmes[1], and Horizon Europe Missions and Partnerships in particular the EU partnership for Safe and Sustainable Food Systems.

[1] Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-2022 Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/horizon/wp-call/2021-2022/wp-9-food-bioeconomy-natural-resources-agriculture-and-environment_horizon-2021-2022_en.pdf

Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023-2024 Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/horizon/wp-call/2023-2024/wp-9-food-bioeconomy-natural-resources-agriculture-and-environment_horizon-2023-2024_en.pdf

The proposals should indicate their contribution to relevant SDGs and methodology to contribute to reporting SDG indicators, including:

  • SDG 2: Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 15: Life on Land

Table 5. Supporting information for Section 2 call for Proposals

For questions related to this call for proposals, please contact Nur Eda Demir at [email protected] or Marco Orlando at [email protected]

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