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Call: European Partnership Water Security for the Planet (Water4All)

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
European Partnership Water Security for the Planet (Water4All)
Description of call
"European Partnership Water Security for the Planet (Water4All)"

Expected Outcome:

In support of the European Green Deal and EU water-related policies, the successful proposal will contribute to foster the adaptation of water resources to climate change, contributing therefore to Destination ‘Land, ocean and water for climate action’ impact “Advance the understanding and science, and support adaptation and resilience of natural and managed ecosystems, water and soil systems and economic sectors in the context of the changing climate”, as well as preserve and restore ecosystems and biodiversity, prevent pollution in land and seas, enhance food security, foster sustainable and circular management of water resources and innovative governance.

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

  • Increased protection of water resources and ecosystems and strengthening of biodiversity, by developing a more systemic and integrative policy which considers cross-sectoral interactions (water, biodiversity, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, energy, health).
  • Enhanced resilience, mitigation and adaptation of water systems to climate change and multiple interacting stressors.
  • Pooled resources (EU, Member States, Associated Countries, European platforms and economic sectors) and alignment within a shared and co-developed strategic research and innovation agenda (SRIA) and related implementation plans and better embedding of national and regional knowledge and innovation ecosystems within that of the EU.
  • Leverage impacts of policies on the water security crisis, by upscaling projects (from research to demonstration) and supporting policy implementation based on cooperation, across stakeholders and sectors.
  • Strengthened alignment between funders’ programmes and timelines and knowledge transfer, and addressing the lack of continuity of funding from research to implementation and difficulties in securing long-term investments.
  • Greater cooperation across sectors, with multi-stakeholder engagement and empowerment, to co-develop and co-implement solutions and to drive the necessary societal transformations required for securing water for all.
  • Reinforced role of the EU in the international water agenda (implementation of UN SDGs) and in strengthening water diplomacy.
  • Science and evidence-based implementation of the European Green Deal and EU water-related policies.


Water resources are vital for all human activities and the environment. Ensuring that enough water of high quality is available for all purposes remains a key challenge globally and within Europe.

Global trends project world-wide growth in water use by 55% by 2050, due to growing demands from manufacturing, thermal electricity generation, agriculture and domestic use, all increasing the pressure of human activities on our freshwater resources. Furthermore, water quality is declining due to agricultural, industrial, mining and urban pollution, impacting the availability of water of sufficient quality for users. According to the recently released Global Assessment by the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES), freshwater biodiversity is declining rapidly. Hydrological extreme events, such as floods and droughts, are going to increase, according to the latest IPCC conclusions, exacerbating the water crisis and impacts across all economic sectors.

Achieving good status of Europe’s surface waters and providing enough water for all, is not only important for the implementation of EU water related policies, it is also an essential element for achieving other EU related policies, such biodiversity, agriculture, climate and energy related policies. Water is also central to all components of the European Green Deal. There is, therefore, a need to produce science-based knowledge to support the European Green Deal and other EU policies by monitoring problems related to water and developing feasible technical and managerial solutions.

Water is a dedicated UN Sustainable Development Goal (namely SDG6) but it will not be achieved by 2030 at current rates, considering trends in financing, capacity and political commitments. This will also undermine progress towards most of the other SDGs, particularly the goals related to poverty, hunger, health, clean energy, cities, climate, life below water and life on land, but also gender equality and peace, which are all related to water.

The diversity of challenges we are now facing to secure water for all, requires a new co-funded partnership that brings together all public and private research funders and supports a more efficient collaboration and integration of EU, Member States and Associated Countries R&I activities related to water. This will ensure a transition to a healthy planet, respectful of planetary boundaries, a resilient Energy Union, and implementation of an EU policy of climate neutrality, in line with Horizon Europe priorities.

It also requires the alignment and/or integration of different research and innovation agendas and of EU and national programmes, coordination of funding agencies and commitments to implement a long-term strategy that would deliver major changes and impacts. Based on a shared and co-constructed SRIA, such a partnership should combine bottom-up and top-down approaches to reconcile needs whilst pooling resources from different sources. It should foster consortium building and help leverage between existing initiatives under common broader or specific objectives. This will give direction and shape to a common water implementation strategy.

A European partnership is also necessary to deliver an objective and impact-driven approach and build critical mass in resources (human and financial), expertise and capacities in the longer-term, in line with the challenge faced. This would allow for the mobilisation of additional national resources with access to other instruments / financing / investments along the same strategic research agenda (e.g. real-life testing sites, research infrastructures, and innovation hubs or competitiveness clusters), contributing from collaboration that benefits existing European, national and local ecosystems.

Tackling the global challenges also requires different forms of cooperation (to maximise the types and number of partners involved). This would allow implementation of a larger range of types of actions, such as development of academic and applied research, innovative solutions, including collaboration with enterprises in projects, transfer of innovation to enterprises, addressing the science/policy interface, while having better access to research infrastructures and connections to implementation tools (financial, regulatory), demonstration and training.

The co-funded European Partnership Water Security for the Planet (Water4All) should address the following vision: “Boosting the systemic transformations and changes across the entire research – water innovation pipeline, fostering matchmaking between problem owners and solution providers to ensure water security for all in the long term”.

Water4All should propose a portfolio of multi-national, multi-faceted and cross-sectoral approaches, encompassing policy, environmental, economic, technological and societal considerations to enable water security for all in the long term. It should therefore be implemented through a joint programme of activities ranging from research and innovation programme coordination to new knowledge and innovation development, transfer to policy-making, operational implementation and demonstration of the efficiency of solutions. It should be structured according to the following pillars:

  • Identify research and innovation priorities to strengthen alignment of EU and national RDI programmes and increase the impact and policy relevance.
  • Develop new knowledge and innovative solutions for a systemic and inclusive approach to water challenges at operational scale (e.g. river basin, water catchment).
  • Transfer knowledge and innovation to i) policy-makers and ii) operators / managers so that they are able to implement the proposed solutions.
  • Demonstrate the efficiency and the sustainability of the proposed solutions at local level, in close cooperation with the relevant actors (including policy-makers and decision-makers).
  • Increase and strengthen international cooperation to develop a critical mass in relation to the global challenges faced.

This will create a continuum from the identification of the challenges to the demonstration of proposed solutions, ensuring a more rapid translation of research and innovation into concrete applications and uptake by relevant managers and citizens.

Water4All should rely on a core group composed of R&I programme owners and funders from ministries in charge of R&I policy and agencies, policy makers from ministries in charge of environmental policy and environmental / water protection agencies, from the EU, neighbouring countries and beyond the EU, as core members, in close cooperation with a wide range of other research and economic actors (multinational corporations, suppliers & SMEs, research & technology developers, water utilities, civil society organisations). Partners are expected to provide financial and/or in-kind contributions for the governance structure, the joint calls, and other additional activities. To achieve the international cooperation objectives, collaboration with non-European countries is strongly encouraged.

The partnership is open to all EU Member States, as well as to countries associated to Horizon Europe and will remain open to such countries wanting to join.

To ensure the coherence and complementarity of activities, and to leverage knowledge investment possibilities, the partnership is expected to foster close cooperation and synergies with other ongoing EU and nationally funded R&I activities, the Horizon Missions on Healthy Soils; on Ocean, seas and waters; on Climate Adaptation and on Cities, relevant Horizon Europe partnerships (Chemical Risk Assessment, Driving Urban Transition, Waterborne, Biodiversity, Blue Economy, Safe and Sustainable Food System, Agro-ecology living labs) and other programmes/initiatives (such as Cohesion Policy funds, LIFE programme, COST actions, Development and International Cooperation funds, ESA/Copernicus, KIC Climate, PRIMA, follow-up of BONUS). Proposers are expected to describe in details the way to implement such collaborations.

Proposals should pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national (or regional) research programmes with a view to implementing joints call for transnational proposals resulting in grants to third parties.

The Commission envisages to include new actions in future work programme(s) to continue providing support to the partnership for the duration of Horizon Europe.

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, 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: 70 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 20.00 and 126.00 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 126.00 million.
Typ of ActionProgramme Co-fund Action
Funding ratebetween 30% and 70%

Beneficiaries may provide financial support to third parties. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of grants. As financial support provided by the participants to third parties is one of the primary activities of this action in order to be able to achieve its objectives, the 60 000 EUR threshold provided for in Article 204 (a) of the Financial Regulation No 2018/1046 does not apply.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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