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Call key data

Community-led actions to restore our ocean, seas and waters

Funding Program

EU Missions in Horizon Europe

Call number




18.09.2024 17:00

Funding rate


Call budget

€ 50,000,000.00

Estimated EU contribution per project

€ 12,500,000.00

Link to the call

Link to the submission

Call content

short description

Each proposed action on this topic should relate to one of the four basins covered by the Restoring Our Oceans and Waters by 2030 mission and should provide all of the following types of support to the mission communities from stakeholders in the respective basin: financial support to third parties (also referred to as cascading grants) for community-led pilot actions, cascading grants for transition plans, and technical assistance provided by the consortium.

Call objectives

As stated in the Mission Ocean and Waters Implementation Plan, the deployment and upscaling phase (phase 2 of the Mission starting in 2026) aims to “enable broad participation in the Mission across the EU” with “a strong citizen, stakeholder and community governance element”. In the second phase of the Mission implementation, the solutions developed and piloted in the first phase (development and piloting phase) to deliver on the Mission and Green Deal objectives will be further deployed, replicated, and scaled up. Therefore, in the last years of phase 1, a transition to the deployment and upscaling phase needs to be well prepared.

Reaching the ambitious Mission objectives and targets is dependent on mobilising a broad set of actors to take meaningful action to restore our ocean, seas and waters. Practical, easily accessible support is needed for established or emerging communities of actors to facilitate the deployment at scale of innovative actions, measures and initiatives contributing to the EU Mission’s objectives, and the transformations required at national, regional, and local level.

Cascading grants to community-led pilot actions

Each proposal under this topic should foresee awarding at least 5 cascading grants of EUR 200 000 - EUR 2 million per grant to community-led pilot actions that are implementing innovative solutions towards achieving one or several interlinked Mission objectives in the respective basin addressed by the proposal. The Commission estimates that the total budget for the cascading call to support community-led actions could be in the order of EUR 7 million. These third-party community-led actions may be implemented by a consortium of several participants. The size of the consortium and the budget requested should reflect the specific local needs addressed by the third-party action.

The proposals must ensure that the selection process of the third parties to which financial support would be granted is based on principles of transparency, objectivity and fairness, in accordance with Annex B of the general annexes to this work programme.

The proposals are expected to provide a detailed plan for the cascading grant call for the community-led pilot actions, in particular planning the launch of the call no later than the end of month 3 of the project. The proposals should describe appropriate means to promote the cascading grant call at lighthouse, national and regional levels that would allow them to reach as many of the potential applicants as possible.

The third-party actions supported through the cascading call should demonstrate measurable, verifiable, and ambitious progress towards reaching at least one or, whenever possible and applicable, several interlinked objectives and targets set out in the Mission Ocean and Waters Implementation Plan. The chosen focus of the third-party actions should depend on which objective(s) are most urgent for the communities dealing with specific conditions and realities in a particular area. However, addressing several objectives, in the case that this is feasible, may provide an added value and should thus be seen as advantage for the applications in the cascading calls.

The third-party actions should focus on implementing innovative solutions that go beyond the state of the art and that combine, as appropriate, technological, nature-based, social, cultural, regulatory, and financial innovation, and new governance models. The actions should foster a participatory approach that empowers local stakeholders, builds on their local know-how and application of sustainable practices, and encourages their long-term commitment to the protection, restoration and de-pollution of our ocean, seas and waters and to making the sustainable blue economy carbon-neutral and circular. With the help from the project consortia selected under this topic, the community-led third-party actions should promote the deployment and upscaling of innovative solutions to restore the ocean and waters, including through the preparation of deployment plans.

The community-led third-party actions should be encouraged to cooperate with scientific institutions to stimulate transdisciplinary innovation activities, which are based on best available science practices. Transdisciplinary activities denote cooperation of diverse societal stakeholder groups (administration, civil society, business & industry, finance, etc.), not only across academic disciplines (‘interdisciplinary’).

These community-led actions should also consider an effective contribution of SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities) disciplines as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related innovation activities. Social innovation should also be considered in order to match innovative ideas with social needs.

The proposals should encourage the third-party actions to build on research and innovation developed by projects financed under the current and/or previous EU framework programmes and other relevant EU and national programmes, linking also to the Mission Implementation Platform, and where applicable, make use of Copernicus/Galileo/EGNOS and Emodnet.

Attracting additional financing from Structural Funds or any national, regional, local programmes or private funding at any stage of the community-led pilot actions is strongly encouraged.

The types of Mission communities relevant to the cascading grants may include at least the following:

  • ports (including inland ports);
  • islands;
  • fishing communities, aquaculture producers and other representatives of blue economy;
  • operators of various vessels;
  • Local Action Groups described by the Community-Led Local Development strategies
  • waterfront cities or regions / communities (avoiding overlaps with Cities’ Mission);
  • conservation communities;
  • representatives of the tourism sector;
  • maritime infrastructure operators (incl. offshore platforms and their operators).

Various types of actors in the communities listed above could apply for the support. These could include for example:

  • regional and local authorities;
  • NGOs, foundations, professional associations, and other entities engaged in local development and nature conservation activities;
  • educational establishments;
  • locally based companies (provided this is not in conflict with the State Aid rules);
  • research performing organisations, etc.

Cascading grants for transition agendas

Each proposed action should also foresee awarding at least 20 cascading grants for transition agendas of up to EUR 100 000 each, addressing the types of Mission communities described above. The proposed actions should ensure that the selection process of the third parties to which financial support for transition agendas would be granted is based on principles of transparency, objectivity, and fairness, in accordance with Annex B of the general annexes to this work programme.

A transition agenda for this call is understood as a strategic roadmap towards reaching all objectives and targets of the Mission 'Restore our ocean and waters by 2030' in the applicant communities, with a particular focus on the objectives that are most relevant to the specific community. The roadmaps could cover processes needed to ensure the protection and restoration of marine/coastal/inland waters, biodiversity and ecosystems, the reduction/elimination of pollution and the achievement of decarbonisation and circularity targets, as well as include a plan for a defined number of years concerning the objectives set, covering, for example, expected outcomes, results, impact, ways to achieve them and ways to bring in financing to support the achievement of these objectives.

The transition agenda should indicate how specific results and ideally also their impacts are expected to materialise in order to ensure the actual achievements of the objectives. These agendas would serve as a basis for further planning of follow-up activities by the actors involved, particularly actions to meet the Mission Ocean and Waters objectives/targets, to be subsequently implemented with the financial support of various funds (e.g., EU structural funds/national/regional funds).

All entities establishing transition agendas should commit to report to the project that had issued the third-party financing within 6 months after finalisation of the agendas on the progress of implementing its results in practice.

Technical assistance to Mission Communities of actors

The proposals should also foresee technical assistance to Mission Communities of actors in the basin addressed by the respective action. Such assistance should address the needs of the Mission communities of actors in the particular basin and may include support and advice needed for the preparation of business plans, feasibility studies, impact assessments, and needs assessment, as well as long-term sustainability planning to help the communities of actors develop sustainable financing strategies to ensure longevity of the efforts to achieve healthy oceans, seas and waters; capacity building to empower communities of actors with the knowledge and skills needed to undertake effective pollution prevention and elimination, conservation and restoration initiatives, as well as making the sustainable blue economy carbon-neutral and circular; and other Mission-related actions that would require direct counselling, written guidance, online materials, webinars, in-depths sessions, deep dives, peer-to-peer support, twinning etc.).

It is essential to tailor the support provided to the specific needs and context of each community of actors, including through the use of local languages, as well as fostering a participatory approach that empowers local stakeholders and encourages their long-term commitment to the protection and restoration of our ocean, seas and waters.

The proposals under this topic should also work on clustering of and support to the third-party community-led actions. The proposals should help create a network of these community-led actions to enhance communication, collaboration and sharing of knowledge and best practices to maximise their combined impact, and create links to the networks similarly created by the other three projects selected under this topic in other Mission lighthouse areas.

Furthermore, the proposals should assist each community-led action in using its experiences and solutions to establish new networks and collaborations in their respective areas. The proposals should provide guidance and support to the third-party actions in forming partnerships with local communities, NGOs, government agencies, or relevant stakeholders to expand the impact of the actions and create a collaborative ecosystem for knowledge sharing, resource optimisation, and wider adoption of successful solutions.

The proposals should provide help and guidance to the selected community-led actions regarding access to additional funding. The proposals should also identify, evaluate, and showcase feasible and scalable solutions demonstrated by the community-led actions, and provide guidance on deployment of these solutions.

Furthermore, the proposals should set aside funds for clustering and collaboration among four projects selected under this topic, including for a joint monitoring and evaluation framework to track the progress of each third-party community-led action project and assess their collective impact.

In order to ensure complementarities and avoid overlaps concerning the provision of all three types of support described above, the proposals should work closely with other Horizon Europe projects, particularly Prep4Blue, the relevant Mission lighthouse CSA projects (EcoDaLLi, BlueMissionAA, BlueMissionMed, BlueMissionBANOS), the project selected under HORIZON-MISS-2024-OCEAN-02-02, the public procurement prepared under Other Actions of WP 2022 “Studies to support communities of actors to achieve the EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters objectives”, and the Mission Implementation Platform (MIP), notably with the work MIP does on deployment and upscaling of solutions. The proposals may also collaborate with and build on the experience of relevant existing networks, partnerships and initiatives, as well as take into account relevant strategic research and innovation agendas and regional strategies.

The projects resulting from this call should be implemented in close collaboration with the relevant EC service(s) and the Mission Ocean and Waters Secretariat to ensure a coherent and timely implementation of the Mission.

Proposals should be flexible enough to accommodate for some adjustments that may be requested by the Commission before the grant agreement signature to ensure complementarity of activities between the lighthouse CSA projects, Prep4Blue, the Mission Implementation Platform, and the project selected under topic HORIZON-MISS-2024-OCEAN-02-02.

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Expected results

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

  • Demonstration of measurable, verifiable and ambitious progress towards reaching one or several interlinked objectives and targets of the Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030”, as set out in the Mission Implementation Plan through implementation of effective and well-managed community-led pilot actions and other types of support to Mission communities of actors.
  • A concrete contribution to support Member States/Associated countries, their national, regional and/or local authorities, as well as all concerned stakeholders, to implement EU legislation related to marine and freshwater ecosystems and reach the biodiversity, pollution and climate targets of the European Green Deal.
  • Mobilised and engaged Mission communities of actors (regions, ports, cities, islands, etc.) through effective support designed to accelerate the progress to achieve the Mission objectives and targets;
  • Leveraging of resources and investments from communities of actors to restore our ocean, seas and waters.
  • Increased readiness at local level to deploy at scale innovative solutions to restore the ocean, seas and waters.

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Eligibility Criteria

Regions / countries for funding

EU Member States, Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT)
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Iceland (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), New Zealand (Aotearoa), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom

eligible entities

Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)

Mandatory partnership


Project Partnership

To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:

  • the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
  • the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
  • third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries

Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:

  • 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.

Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.

A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
  • Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
  • Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
  • EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
  • Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
  • Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.

other eligibility criteria

In addition to the standard eligibility conditions, the consortium must include beneficiaries from at least two regions or associations thereof from the respective lighthouse area (also referred to as basin) covered by the proposal.

To ensure a balanced portfolio covering all four basins covered by the Mission 'Restore our ocean and waters by 2030' (1. Danube river basin, 2. Atlantic and Arctic sea basin, 3. Mediterranean Sea basin, 4. Baltic and North Sea basin), grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but also to at least one proposal that is the highest ranked within each basin, provided that the applications attain all necessary thresholds.

Beneficiaries may provide financial support to third parties. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of grants. The financial support to third parties may only be awarded to Mission community actors, located in Member States and Associated Countries, for:

  • community-led actions
  • transition agendas

Due to the nature of the work to be supported under the calls for community-led actions piloting innovative solutions, and transition agendas requiring high quality expertise, and because the financial support to third parties is one of the primary activities of this action enabling it to achieve its objectives, the contribution to a third party may go beyond EUR 60 000. The maximum amount to be granted to each third party is EUR 500,000 but may be higher if duly justified in the proposal.

A recipient may only benefit from the financial support to third parties once within the duration of the project.

Additional information


Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Soil quality, 
Air Quality, Biodiversity & Environment, Climate & Climate Change, Water quality & management, 
Arts & Culture, Cultural Heritage, Tourism, 
Circular Economy, Natural Resources, 
Mobility & Transport

Relevance for EU Macro-Region

EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region

UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)

Additional Information

All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.

Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
  • Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.

Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).

The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.


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