Call: Thematic Area 2-Farming systems
THEMATIC AREA: Farming systems
TOPIC: 1.2.1-2023 (IA) Actions to restore and return degraded lands in the Mediterranean region into productive agroecosystems.
TYPE OF ACTION: (IA) Innovation Action
TOTAL INDICATIVE AMOUNT ALLOCATED TO THIS CALL: EUR 8.2 million
OPENING DATE: 25 Jan, 2022
Stage 1 Pre-proposals – 22 March, 2023 (17:00h Central European Time (CET)
Stage 2 Full proposals – 6 September, 2023 (17:00h Central European Time (CET)
PRIMA is proposing an action aiming to galvanize sustainable solutions for land restoration and drought resilience to restore soil health in Mediterranean drylands in collaboration with the EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe.’
The objective of this call is very much aligned with the conclusions of the UNCCD 15th session of the Conference of the Parties | UNCCD. Many areas of the Mediterranean Basin are classified as drylands22, with one-third already showing signs of desertification and likely to be more impacted in the coming years.
Desertification is accelerated and exacerbated by climate change (long drought periods), leading to the loss of vegetal cover and fertility of the soil, making these areas increasingly unsuitable for agriculture.
Desertification has significant environmental consequences in the region due to biodiversity loss and decreasing biological productivity.
In this context, most of the current varieties cannot afford and withstand the occurrence of more extreme conditions. It also has a severe socio-economic impact on the more vulnerable categories of people, such as small-holding farmers for whom agriculture is a primary source of livelihood, creating income reduction, and thus also triggering migration.
Cropland expansion and intensification of agriculture are among the drivers of land degradation processes that can lead to desertification. Urgent action is needed to ramp up efforts to restore and return degraded lands to productive agroecosystems by adopting sustainable land management practices and genetic intervention to reverse degradation while increasing biodiversity, soil health, and food production
The call supports the deployment of measures and practices adapted to biophysical and socio-economic conditions in the Mediterranean region to restore degraded natural resources and their ecosystem functions.
Proposals should scale up existing local knowledge and/or propose practices already tested at a research scale in the Mediterranean region to restore soil health on degraded lands capitalising on agroecological practices. The use of species, varieties and breeds, previously or de novo generated by classic and novel breeding techniques and better adapted to local climatic conditions with minimal watering/inputs and generating incomes and food for the local holders are strongly encouraged.
Proposals should be built on demonstration sites located in different Mediterranean Partner Countries23 (land degradation hot spots) and follow a participatory method that ensures the involvement of key stakeholders.
Proposals should assess the costs and benefits of agricultural practices to restore drylands already affected by desertification by building up business models to enhance investments and create new market opportunities and social wealth.
Since an engagement at a large geographical scale and coordinated actions are needed to combat desertification in the long term, this action should prepare the ground for developing soil restoration Mediterranean lighthouses24 that allow efficient exchanges of expertise and best soil and land management practices to be adopted in regions already affected by desertification. The project’s proponents should use solutions against desertification from projects funded by previous PRIMA and Horizon 2020/Horizon Europe calls by developing a close partnership during the implementation of respective projects. A multi-actor approach, including all the relevant stakeholders (public and private actors), is strongly encouraged to ensure the system’s sustainability even after the project’s end.
Proposals should perform these tasks using a business model that guarantees the functioning of the network and its services beyond the project’s lifespan.
Proposals should set a clear plan on how they will collaborate with other projects selected under this and any other relevant topic by participating in joint and common communication and dissemination activities.
Projects are expected to build links with the EU 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 EU Mission, such as Work Programme 2023 topics HORIZON-MISS-2023-SOIL-01-04, HORIZON-MISS-2023-SOIL-01-08 and HORIZON-MISS-2023-SOIL-01-0925, the latter ones promoting the creation of Living Labs and Lighthouses. Funded projects are expected to contribute to the Soil Deal Mission’s project portfolio.
Where appropriate, PRIMA projects selected under this call should contribute to the PRIMA WEFE Community of practice through networking of selected demonstration sites, knowledge-sharing and capacity building.
Due to the specific challenge of this topic, and in line with our principles of allowing maximum participation from Southern Mediterranean Countries to foster both North-South and South-South cooperation, the following additional eligibility criteria apply: “In addition to the minimum number of participants set out in the standard eligibility conditions (section 5.1.3), consortia must include at least one independent legal entity established in any of the MPCs26. The places of the establishment of the legal entities must cover at least two different specific regions in the MPCs.
- Restored desertified landscapes: improve the functionality of ecosystems and landscapes to continue providing ecosystem goods and services, and offer proven and cost-effective solutions for land restoration
- Increased biodiversity, soil health, and food production
- Decreased land degradation. Increased /stabilized the surface of lands suitable for cultivation and other related ecosystem services.
- Contribute to improving employment, especially for women and youth
- Hectares of desertified areas restored
- Number of innovative solutions applied for land restoration
- Number of business models deployed?
- Number of stakeholders engaged
The proposal should indicate linkages to relevant EU policies and objectives in the context of the European Green Deal and relevant EU Missions and Partnerships. In particular, the EU Mission “A soil Deal for Europe/ Specific Objective 1 “Reduce land degradation relating to desertification.”
The proposals should indicate their contribution to relevant SDGs and methodology to contribute to reporting SDG indicators.