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Call: Thematic Area 1-Water Management 2022


Water Management 


1.1.1 (IA) Sustainable and integrated management of natural and artificial water storage systems and distribution infrastructure 


(IA)  Innovation action


EUR 8.2 million


Stage 1 Pre-proposals – 17 Jan, 2022


Stage 1 Pre-proposals – 15 March, 2022 (17:00h Central European Time (CET)
Stage 2 Full proposals – 6 September, 2022 (17:00h Central European Time (CET)

STATUS: Closed




The chronic water scarcity situation in the Mediterranean Region is a consequence of the seasonal mismatch between water sources and demand and the overexploitation of water resources and could be exacerbated due to the effects of climate change.

While efforts are in due course for a more efficient agricultural water demand and the use of non‐conventional resources is increasing, the proper management of natural (through Nature-Based Solutions), artificial water storage, and distribution systems can be improved. This approach should go beyond the engineering construction phase focusing on the efficient management and operation of the existing infrastructures, natural bodies and management mechanisms. Water distribution within the agri‐food value chain should be mainly targeted as one of the main areas of water misuse. This is because water distribution issues are linked to water losses at the micro‐ (farm/ rural) and macro‐level (basin/ regional). By integrating on-farm and site-specific solutions at a basin scale it should be possible to improve the water footprints in the entire area of study. This large-scale assessment is indeed needed to ensure the long-term sustainability in the management of the water-source balance.




Proposals should look into the integrated water resource management aspects by specifically dealing with the water storage and distribution system challenges through innovative technologies and solutions, when possible, nature-based, and considering the effects of climate change. The specific goal is to improve the water storage and distribution capacities in representative demo areas through a combination of soil-water conservation practices integrated into appropriate management regulations. Particular attention should also be given to the governance aspects to understand and deal with the issues of multi-functionality in water use and distribution and water network efficiency (including the use of ICT solutions to improve management of water networks) within the agri‐food sector, avoiding water losses optimising the water storage potential. The entire water cycle (winter/summer) should be considered when approaching dams and reservoirs, including the proper soil and water conservation upstream of the water storage resources. This is required to ensure the optimum and efficient functioning of the entire water regulating infrastructure. The potential capabilities of natural wetlands for storing and purifying water sources should be better valorised, finding optimum equilibrium between ecological water flow and storage and water use by different economic sectors and particularly by the agri‐food industry. This requires a more holistic approach under circular economy perspectives and the whole-year water cycle considering the potential roles of natural wetlands for water retention during the wet part of the seasons, water treatment and purification. Environmental and cost-benefit indicators should be determined to assess the convenience of proposed measures considering different perspectives on water resource management.


Expected impacts


  • Improvement of the availability of water resources through the optimisation of the management, operation and conservation of natural and artificial water storage systems and water distribution infrastructure;
  • Reduction of sedimentation in water storage facilities adopting soil and water conservation practices;
  • New ecological methods for the design of nature-based solutions based on the seasonal water balance;
  • Improvement of the management of natural wetlands for ecological water conservation, water treatment and re‐use and water storage. 
  • Better designed Nature-Based-Solutions to include the whole summer/winter water cycle;


Key Performance Indicators


  • Number of demonstrators
  • New practices for end-users
  • Degree of integrated water resources management implementation (0-100)
  • Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time



Links with EU Policies, HE Mission’s and Partnerships


The proposal should indicate linkages to relevant EU policies and objectives in the context of the European Green Deal, Water Framework Directive (WFD) and relevant Horizon Europe Missions and relevant Partnerships:



Links with SDGs


The proposal should indicate linkages to relevant UN SDGs and methodology to contribute to the reporting of SDGs indicators


  • TARGET 6.4 By 2030 substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • TARGET 6.5 By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate 
  • TARGET 6.6 By 2020, protect and restore water‐related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes 




[1] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions “A Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system”

[2] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions “EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 Bringing nature back into our lives”

Table 1. Supporting information for Section 1 call for Proposals, Topic 1.1.1

More information

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