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Call: Furthering food systems science and federating researchers across the European Research Area

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
Furthering food systems science and federating researchers across the European Research Area
Description of call
"Furthering food systems science and federating researchers across the European Research Area"

Expected Outcome:

The selected project results are expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

  • New game changers to provide sustainable diets and nutrition for all, ways to meet the Green Deal targets, establish cross cutting priorities, establish knowledge as a legitimate player/enabler in public debate, accelerate scientific progress, redesign farming systems, cope with unforeseen system shocks, and develop smart diversification.
  • A food systems transformation, which achieves co-benefits for nutrition and health, climate mitigation and adaptation, environment, biodiversity, circularity, inclusion and overall sustainability.
  • Novel understanding on how, and to which degree, such a transformation can be catalysed and sustained in the long term, and how the resulting trade-offs can be mitigated.
  • Knowledge and understanding of how to move towards true cost accounting of food and food systems services that adequately integrate social and environmental externalities and embed environmental accounting (e.g. LCA).
  • New insights, methods and tools to assess and manage the full systemic complexity of food systems and their multiple drivers, their dynamics and the issues and opportunities that relate to them.
  • Ways to measure food system performance across all three dimensions of sustainability, which can provide more informed decision and policymaking, and implementation.
  • An increase in the scientific understanding of food systems, in particular their systemic aspects, as to how they function, and how to transform them for co-benefits and minimised trade-offs.
  • Engagement of academia and the necessary practitioners in science, innovation and beyond, that can deliver the necessary scientific methodologies and approaches to support policymakers to put complex transformations into practice.
  • The establishment of a broad interdisciplinary network of researchers, scientists, universities and research centres covering a wide diversity of food systems-related disciplines, as well as those dealing with complex systems, to further systems science in this area.
  • A strengthened European Research area for food systems transformation for co-benefits


This topic should support and strengthen the science, and the science-policy interface relevant to food systems, in particular in relation to delivering on farm to fork and Green Deal policy priorities. Successful proposals are expected to address one of the three inter-connected transformation actions:

Action a) Advance food systems science through:

  • Mapping of existing food systems and typologies and design of new/existing indicator sets that could be applied at different spatial levels (local to global), with a focus on Europe.
  • Development of methods and means to assess food system sustainability, such as establishing an overall food systems sustainability score incorporating common agreed Life Cycle Analysis methodologies.
  • Development of innovative cause-effect simulation models that include all food system sectors and actors beyond the economic focus and which can integrate the three pillars of sustainability to explore the potential impact of different food systems transition options and scenarios delivering co-benefits, while minimising trade-offs.
  • Providing sound evidence for policy and regulatory science needs to deliver food systems transition towards sustainability; including on how to transition to a true cost of food and food systems services that adequately embed social and environmental externalities relevant to various levels (global to local).

Action b) Contribute to building up a food systems European Research Area – part 1 - through:

  • Launching new and assessing ongoing food systems foresight activities (building on existing ones including the fifth SCAR Foresight), detecting emerging trends, and delivering early warnings to policy makers and other relevant actors.
  • Establish a project for policy support capacity to extract, summarise and disseminate findings and achievements of relevant EU Horizon projects and clusters of projects to policy makers, food systems actors and the public.
  • Perform measurement of, and increase research impact of food system science (for example by assisting scientists to adopt inter and transdisciplinary approaches), and encourage the exchange of scientists for mutual learning and knowledge transfer across disciplines
  • Foster citizen science in support of food systems transformation by assessing existing attempts, communicating successes, and catalysing new citizen science initiatives across Europe, in particular by engaging with youth, women, and under-represented communities

Action c) Contribute to building up a food systems European Research Area – part 2 – by creating an interdisciplinary pan-European academic network for food system science that integrates the social sciences and humanities, natural science and engineering, and design. This should:

  • Federate universities, academics and researchers across Europe to support and engage in inter and trans-disciplinary research, foster debate, reflexivity and responsible research and innovation (RRI) in support of food systems transition and improved policymaking at all levels from global to local.
  • Develop and share freely available open access educational material/curricula to be used by Higher Education Institutes (bachelors and post-graduate levels) to help strengthen their exiting food systems-related teaching and research with an inter and transdisciplinary systems dimension that integrates all three aspects of sustainability, and farm to fork policy and Green Deal priorities.
  • Support researcher training, mobility, mutual learning and knowledge sharing, and open science approaches.
  • Disseminate and communicate scientific outcomes adapted for multiple audiences including researchers, policy makers, industry, science media and society. This will also include the organisation of a major international annual/bi-annual conference dedicated to advancing food systems science.
  • Establish a high-level liaison with EU and relevant international initiatives.

Proposals must involve a wide diversity of food system actors and conducting inter-disciplinary research to implement the required multi actor approach (cf eligibility conditions).

All projects should explain and map how co-benefits should be achieved relevant to the four Food 2030 priorities: nutrition for sustainable healthy diets, climate and environment, circularity and resource efficiency, innovation and empowerment of communities.

All projects should ensure a clustering mechanism with each other and feedback mechanisms with other governance topics and provide general scientific advice for related food systems oriented Horizon Europe projects.

All projects should set out a clear plan on how they should collaborate with other projects selected under this and any other relevant topic/call, by participating in joint activities, workshops, as well as common communication and dissemination activities and channels.

This topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines.

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, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Mobility & Transport/Traffic , Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion
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 6.00 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 17.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%

The proposals must use the multi-actor approach.

To ensure a balanced portfolio, grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but at least also to one project within Action a) that is the highest ranked, one project highest ranked within Action b) and one project highest ranked within Action c), provided that the applications attain all thresholds.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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