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Call: Maintaining and restoring pollinators and pollination services in European agricultural landscapes

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL6-BIODIV
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 1: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services"

The EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 is a cornerstone of the European Green Deal that will put Europe’s biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, for the benefit of people, the climate and the planet. It will also prepare the EU to take a leading role in the upcoming international negotiations on a new global framework to halt biodiversity loss. With the Green Deal’s ‘do no significant harm’ vision, all EU policies will become more biodiversity-friendly, focusing more on the sustainable use of ecosystems, supporting the recovery in a post-pandemic world[[COM/2020/380 EU biodiversity strategy for 2030: Bringing nature back into our lives]]. This policy vision is fully supported in the strategic plan of Horizon Europe for 2021-2024 in its first key strategic orientation ‘Protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity and managing sustainably natural resources on land and at sea, and achieving climate neutrality and adaptation’. Consequently, Destination ‘Biodiversity and ecosystem services’ intends to achieve the following expected impact from Cluster 6 ‘Biodiversity is back on a path to recovery, and ecosystems and their services are preserved and sustainably restored on land, inland water and at sea through improved knowledge and innovation’. All actions funded under this destination must therefore help to deliver this main impact.

Research and innovation is key to delivering results that will have an important impact on biodiversity, food, health, water and climate, which are all interconnected, and to achieving the goal of healthy and resilient ecosystems by 2030. It will also enable transformational change engaging European society and economy and their global impacts, making decisions more biodiversity-friendly. R&I will support policy targets, develop nature-based solutions[[Nature-based solutions are “inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience. Such solutions bring more, and more diverse, nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions. Hence, nature-based solutions must benefit biodiversity and support the delivery of a range of ecosystem services.”]] and holistic approaches to address the main causes of biodiversity loss, particularly in connection to production systems, bringing all sectors together to be integrated in ecosystem-based management. Investments in R&I will help to protect and restore the integrity of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems, currently under multiple pressures, and protect and restore their capacity to deliver a wide range of essential services. Under Horizon Europe, a long-term strategic research agenda for biodiversity will also be developed.

The sixth mass extinction is taking place: one million species are at risk of extinction, and the degradation of ecosystems severely affects the fabric of life that enables the survival of humankind[[IPBES global assessment (2019). Summary for policy-makers.]]. None of the globally agreed targets of the 2011-2020 strategic plan for biodiversity has been fully achieved[[United Nation’s 5th Global Biodiversity Outlook (2020).]], with the biodiversity crisis even deepening. Our knowledge on biodiversity status, pressures, impacts and responses needs to be improved, requiring even basic taxonomic work in certain ecosystems. Understanding biodiversity decline and addressing its main drivers through data-driven science, integrated multidisciplinary knowledge, new tools, models and scenarios, will support Europe’s policy needs and boost global biodiversity science. Solutions for preventing and addressing the individual and cumulative effect of direct drivers of biodiversity loss (land use change, overexploitation, climate change, invasive species, pollution) need to be further developed and made available to policy makers and practitioners, such as through the new EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity[[https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/biodiversity_en]]. For more impact on society and economic sectors, citizen science and crowdsourcing also require big data analysis, artificial intelligence, social sciences, communications and policy tools.

Valuing and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services is necessary to develop tools to guide decisions, inform and implement policies on the environment, water, health, climate, disaster risk reduction, agriculture, forests and other land use types, protected areas management, the sustainable bioeconomy, the blue economy, maritime and cross-sectoral spatial planning, and responsible business practices. The continued degradation of the ecosystems and their services affects biodiversity and climate change[[https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0738-8]], and increases the risk of severe ecological disasters and pandemics. The European Green Deal and its biodiversity strategy call for urgent action to restore damaged aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in order to increase biodiversity and deliver a wide range of ecosystem services.

The contribution of ecosystems to human wellbeing and the economy is not properly accounted for in market transactions, or in planning and investment decisions: the social and economic co-benefits of healthy ecosystems are often disregarded. Natural capital accounts need to be developed and mainstreamed. Investments in R&I will also lay the ground for scaling up and speeding up the implementation of technological, societal and nature-based solutions (NBS). NBS support vital ecosystem services, biodiversity and biomass provision, as well as access to drinking water, clean soil, improved livelihoods, healthy diets and food safety and security from sustainable food systems. NBS deployment will also create green jobs and build resilience to climate change and natural disasters. Citizens, authorities, businesses, social partners and the research community must be engaged at local, regional, national and European levels.

Managing biodiversity in primary production: Biodiversity is the basis for sustainable and resilient agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry, as also recognised in the farm to fork and biodiversity strategies under the Green Deal. With diverse genetic resources, it is possible to use in primary production plants and animals that are adapted to different environments, ecosystems and meet diverse needs. Furthermore, the interplay between species below and above ground delivers important ecosystem services, such as pollination, soil fertility, pest and risk control. Despite these recognised benefits, current production systems tend to be specialised and rely on a limited number of crops, breeds and forest tree species whose genetic basis is narrow. Reversing this trend and increasing their resilience is critical and of global concern in particular in the current context of accelerated climate change and a growing population whose production and consumption footprint is increasing.

Enabling transformative change [[Transformative change has been defined by IPBES as “A fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values”. IPBES global assessment (2019). Summary for policy-makers.]] in biodiversity: Science (IPBES and IPCC) and Policy (the global post-2020 biodiversity framework and the EU biodiversity strategy) clearly underline that biodiversity loss can only be successfully addressed if transformative changes are initiated, accelerated, and up-scaled. There is however hardly any knowledge on potentials and challenges arising from transitions focused on biodiversity. System-level change of this kind starts with social innovation in the form of, for example, regulations, incentives, local and participatory processes, and through the introduction of new technologies, new production processes, or new consumer products, which change how socio-technical and socio-ecological systems operate and impact their environment. Such transformative change must decrease the impacts of indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, which are in turn, underpinned by societal values and behaviours. Indirect drivers of biodiversity loss are understood to mean here: production and consumption patterns, human population dynamics and trends (including their footprints), trade, technological innovations, and local to global governance (including financing). Research and innovation can enable these transformative changes to happen and initiate processes, behaviour changes and actions which are transforming the way we impact biodiversity. Socio-economic and multidisciplinary research, including on the role of education, will develop knowledge and tools to understand the role of transformative change for biodiversity policy making, address the indirect drivers for biodiversity loss, and accelerate transformative changes in our society that are relevant to biodiversity.

Interconnecting biodiversity research and supporting policies refers to the establishment of the European Partnership ‘Rescuing biodiversity to safeguard life on Earth’ and to the support to other science-policy interfaces. The European partnership on biodiversity[[https://www.biodiversa.org/1759]] will connect national, local and European research, innovation and environmental programmes, combining resources in support of one goal, i.e. that by 2030 biodiversity in Europe is back on the path to recovery. It will co-develop multidisciplinary research and innovation programmes with stakeholders, set up a European network of coordinated observatories for biodiversity monitoring, and implement a broad range of activities to increase the relevance, impact and visibility of EU research and innovation in tackling the biodiversity crisis in line with the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030.

Science-policy interfaces on biodiversity and nature-based solutions have made good progress in recent years[[Good leverage effects have been achieved, notably through EKLIPSE, Oppla, the NBS platform, the EU4IPBES support action 2018-2021.]], and must be stepped up to achieve targeted impacts on biodiversity-relevant policies, that can in turn be used as structured policy input into the research cycle. These interfaces are also key to guiding biodiversity governance, and to implement the EU Green Deal and international conventions[[In particular, the UN Convention on Biodiversity, and the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030]]. In line with the Commission priority 'A stronger Europe in the world', the EU must take and demonstrate leadership in this field, notably by increasing its support to IPBES[[The Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services]] -to bring it up to the same level as the IPCC-, and to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Besides economic support, this also includes efforts to create synergies and cooperation between IPBES, regional Multilateral Environmental Agreements and other relevant research communities to ensure a full coverage of all relevant aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services in order to underpin the full scope of the post 2020 global biodiversity framework.

All topics will directly contribute to the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 and to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 13, 14, 15, 17.

Several missions will also help to achieve biodiversity-related impacts, notably in the areas of ‘Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation’, ‘Climate-neutral and smart cities’, ‘Ocean, seas and waters’ and ‘Soil health and food’.

Expected impact

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway contributing to Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and more specifically to one or more of the following impacts:

  • Biodiversity decline, its main direct drivers and their interrelations are better understood and addressed through the production, integration and use of open data, knowledge, education and training, innovative technologies, solutions and control measures, in collaboration with European and international initiatives.
  • Biodiversity and natural capital are integrated into public and business decision-making at all levels for the protection and restoration of ecosystems and their services; science base is provided for planning and expanding protected areas, and sustainably managing ecosystems.
  • Europe builds competitive sustainability and tackles climate change and natural disasters through the deployment of nature-based solutions, including ecosystem-based disaster risk-reduction approaches fully reaping their economic, social and environmental benefits for a green recovery across all European regions.
  • The interrelations between biodiversity, health, food, soil, water, air and climate are better known and communicated to citizens and policy-makers; in particular, risks associated with microbiomes and biodiversity-friendly prevention/mitigation measures, and opportunities for biodiversity recovery are identified.
  • Practices in agriculture and forestry support biodiversity and the provision of other ecosystems services based on a) a better understanding of functional biodiversity (above and below ground), b) effective knowledge and innovation systems and c) ready-to use solutions for land managers, adapted to specific conditions.
  • Access to a wider range of crops and breeds with a broadened genetic base is improved in line with global biodiversity commitments by gaining greater insight into the characteristics of genetic resources and by enhancing capacities for their preservation and use in breeding and in primary production (farming, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture). More (bio)diverse, resilient production systems will have positive knock-on effects on value chains, consumption, healthy diets and the wider, non-managed biodiversity.
  • Approaches for enabling transformative changes in society for biodiversity and ecosystems recovery are identified, tested and implemented in policy, governance, law business and society; all indirect drivers of biodiversity loss are addressed and ‘do not harm’ biodiversity policies become a mainstream part of all sectors.
  • Biodiversity research is interconnected across Europe, supporting and enhancing the ambition of national, EU and international environmental policies and conventions.

When considering the impact of the proposals, 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)]] has to be assessed. Also it has to be ensured that the research and innovation activities do not cause a significant harm to any of the six environmental objectives of the EU Taxonomy Regulation.

The portfolio of actions under this destination will have impacts in the following areas: “Enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity on land and in waters”; “Climate change mitigation and adaptation”; “Clean and healthy air, water and soil”; “Sustainable food systems from farm to fork on land and sea”; and “A resilient EU prepared for emerging threats”.

Link Link to Programme
Call
Maintaining and restoring pollinators and pollination services in European agricultural landscapes
Description of call
"Maintaining and restoring pollinators and pollination services in European agricultural landscapes"

Expected Outcome:

Responding to the EU Green Deal, the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 and the farm to fork Strategy, a successful proposal will restore pollinator-habitats, support the development of pollinator-friendly policies, business models and market conditions, by helping to establish sustainable, productive, climate-neutral and resilient farming systems by minimising pressure on ecosystems, delivering a wide range of ecosystem services, improving public health and generating fair economic returns for farmers. Projects should address all of the following outcomes:

  • Agricultural landscapes that are dominated by intensively managed crops and grasslands, are restored through co-designed (with farmers and other land managers, local communities, agricultural advisory services, landscape planners, the nature conservation sector etc.) large-scale, experimental pollinator-friendly practices and services and through social innovation processes, such as new innovative approaches to enhance community participatory planning and innovative business models.
  • Management, restoration, conservation and connectivity of wild pollinator habitats follow scientific and policy recommendations, which have been tested in the projects on their applicability. The range of recommendations in question is set in the Assessment Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production of IPBES and the updated Plan of Action of the international initiative on the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators.
  • Systemic approaches provide an effective enabling environment for stakeholder actions. They demonstrate that coherent and comprehensive policies for the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators at various governance levels can be demonstrated at least at landscape scale. , and contributing to foster sustainable agricultural practices while ensuring farming viability and profitability, for different agricultural sectors.
  • Improved coordination in governance, as well as enhanced data accessibility, financing and maintenance agreements for actions beneficial for pollinators are achieved
  • Adaptive management of measures for the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators is informed by continuous monitoring and assessing of the outcomes, including by using results-based payment schemes.

Scope:

This topic aims at maintaining and restoring species-rich pollinator communities and their services in agricultural landscapes dominated by intensive land use, and facilitating the uptake of pollinator-friendly practices at wider scale.

The direct and indirect drivers of pollinator decline are cross-cutting in nature .This calls for the need to ensure policy coherence and to integrate pollinator and pollination considerations not only in policy measures that support the transition towards more sustainable agricultural practices, but also across sectors (for example forestry, consumption and health) and at different spatial scales (farm, landscape, ecosystem).

Despite efforts, many of the main direct drivers of pollinator loss have remained largely unchanged over the years: habitat fragmentation and land use change, the widespread use of synthetic chemicals in agriculture and in other sectors, invasive alien species, and pathogens (in case of managed pollinators). In particular, great attention has been focused on drivers linked to intensive agricultural practices, such as monoculture, and the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides that can have direct and indirect effects on pollinators. In addition, the increasing negative impact on pollinator habitats of other direct drivers, such as climate change, have exacerbated the problem.

This topic aims at restoring and maintaining species-rich pollinator communities and their services in agricultural landscapes characterised by intensive farming practices, and facilitating the uptake of pollinator-friendly practices in the agricultural sector at a wide scale, in different pedo-climatic conditions across Europe. The proposed projects should emphasise mainstreaming pollination concerns into policies, developing and implementing measures on the ground to support the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators, addressing risks, and building capacity. In doing this, they should involve all relevant stakeholders along the agri-food chain and share knowledge on multiple levels to integrate pollination considerations into farming, land use and other management decisions, focusing collaborative research on emerging issues and prevailing needs.

The proposed projects should build on existing experience in particular on lessons learned and best practices gained through EU-funded projects and initiatives such as those supported by Horizon 2020, Results-Based Payment Scheme projects, the LIFE programme, and prepare the uptake of approaches developed and tested in this topic into future EU-funded activities (such as LIFE, the common agricultural policy, Horizon Europe). The proposals should show how their results may contribute to the EU Pollinators Initiative, feed into relevant IPBES functions, and ensure cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity. Coordination with the two following topics should be envisaged: ‘HORIZON-CL6-2022-BIODIV-01-10: Cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity’ and ‘HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-20: Support to processes triggered by IPBES and IPCC’.

Projects are expected to secure additional funding or in-kind contributions when implementing restoration actions.

Proposals should include specific tasks and envisage sufficient resources to develop joint deliverables (e.g. activities, workshops, as well as joint communication and dissemination) with all projects funded under this topic for aspects of horizontal nature and for cooperation with other projects such as BiodivERsA, Oppla, the EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity, relevant H2020 projects such as SHOWCASE and HORIZON-CL6-2021-CLIMATE-01-08: ‘Agroforestry to meet climate, biodiversity and farming sustainability goals’. Actions should use existing platforms and information sharing mechanisms relevant for pollinators and the restoration of their habitats. Furthermore, cooperation is expected with the European partnership on biodiversity and with the Science Service (HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-19: A mechanism for science to inform implementation, monitoring, review and ratcheting up the new EU biodiversity strategy (‘Science Service’), and with other large-scale initiatives under Horizon Europe, such as the candidate partnership on agroecology, living labs, research infrastructures and the proposed mission ‘Caring for soils is caring for life’.

The proposals should address all of the following points:

  • Demonstrate measures to diversify large-scale farming systems and the resulting feeding resources and habitats of pollinators in agricultural lands, grasslands and semi-natural areas, through agro-ecological practices, including organic farming and agroforestry, as well as through home gardens, and forestry systems where relevant to the restored landscapes, with a view to ensure heterogeneous habitats formed by native species that offer diversified floral and nesting resources for pollinators;
  • Create set-asides for nature, such as uncultivated patches of vegetation, to enhance floral diversity, and to ensure native, diverse, abundant and continuous floral resources for pollinator across time and space;

The two points mentioned above combined should cover at least 50% of the proposed budget.

  • Analyse and evaluate different options to protect and conserve threatened pollinator species as well as their natural environment, and elaborate the requirements to promote recognition of pollinator-friendly practices and consequences on pollination functions and services in existing certification schemes; and develop methods for the inclusion of pollinator conservation into ecosystem restoration frameworks (in particular on grassland and other agro-ecosystems).
  • Develop prototypes of potential extension services, farmer-to-farmer sharing approaches and farmer field schools to strengthen synergies between scientific evidence, traditional knowledge, conservation and farmer-researcher community practices, to exchange knowledge and provide hands-on education and empowerment of local farming communities on pollinators. This could include for instancefostering networks for exchanges of native seeds
  • Elaborate, based on the large-scale approach, how the promotion of coherent policies across sectors and issues (e.g. biodiversity, agriculture and food security, chemicals and pollution, reduction of inequality, climate change and disaster risk reduction) could look like for pollinators. This scalability plan should be developed with the involvement of the communities concerned, and should include the dissemination of innovative solutions and practices, and a process for commitments in adopting large-scale restoration of pollinator communities within governance and financing systems, to allow replication and upscaling across the EU, associated countries and internationally. It should seek guarantees for the non-reversibility and/or continuity of restoration activities and/or further replication and/or expansion, implementation of sustainable management practices and monitoring after the end of the projects.
  • Assess and propose options to develop and implement innovative incentives, consistent with international obligations, for farmers and other actors along the agri-food chain, to encourage the adoption of pollinator-friendly practices (e.g. carbon sequestration measures that increase pollinator habitats; conservation of uncultivated areas for pollinator forage; communication to consumers and other actors on the benefits of pollinator-friendly practices, etc). This should also cover assessing the impacts on farmers’ income, on overall business performance of farms, as well as on social aspects in farming communities.
  • Build on existing knowledge, developed inter alia by EU-funded research projects, to assess options to remove or reduce incentives that are harmful to pollinators and their habitats (e.g. pesticides subsidies; incentives for pesticide use as credit requirements from banks), and to promote alternative approaches to pesticide use (e.g. Integrated Pest Management), taking into consideration the needs of farmers, gardeners, land managers, indigenous people, local communities and other stakeholders;
  • Design and test a system to monitor the effectiveness of the large-scale interventions, taking into consideration the scale-dependent aspects of protecting pollinators and managing pollination functions and services, using standard methods in line with the proposal for an EU Pollinator Monitoring Scheme, and contribute to their improvement.

The proposals should develop scientifically robust and transparent methodologies, building on achievements from previous research activities. To ensure trustworthiness, swift and wide adoption by user communities, and to support EU and national (including from associated countries) policy-makers, actions should adopt high standards of transparency and openness, going beyond documentation of results and extending to aspects such as assumptions, models and data quality during the projects life.

Applicants are reminded that costs for land purchase or lease are not eligible costs in the context of activities of research and innovation or innovation projects.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Administration & Governance, Rural & Peripheral Development
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, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Education and Training Centres
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:

  • 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
This call is subject of a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, applicants will be requested to submit only an outline application.

Page limit - part B: 45 pages - The limit for a first-stage application is 10 pages.
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 6.00 and 10.00 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 20.00 million.
Typ of ActionInnovation actions (IA)
Funding rate70% (except for non-profit legal entities , where a rate of up to 100% applies)

Project consortia must give evidence that they have the rights to undertake actions on the areas to be restored.

The proposals must use the multi-actor approach. See definition of the multi-actor approach in the introduction of the relevant work programme part.

Grants will be awarded to proposals according to the ranking list. However, in order to ensure a balanced portfolio of supported actions, at least the two highest-ranked proposals covering action mainly in the European Union and Associated Countries will be funded provided that they 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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