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Environmentally sustainable and climate neutral health and care systems
Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 4: Ensuring access to innovative, sustainable and high-quality health care
date - 2nd stage
Estimated EU contribution per project
between € 4,000,000.00 and € 6,000,000.00
Link to the call
Link to the submission
The health care sector is responsible for 4-5% of global total carbon emissions, and generates significant demands for energy and materials, as well as dangerous waste streams that may cause air, soil and water pollution. At the same time, health and care provision generally experiences less pressure to decarbonise and improve its circularity than other sectors of the economy. With the European Green Deal, the EU commits to reducing net greenhouse gas emission by at least 55% by 2030, and to reach no net emissions by 2050, and the health and care systems are not exempt. Research and innovation can support by ensuring a smooth transformation while maintaining or improving quality of health and care services.
Health and care systems are undergoing structural changes, for example by strengthening primary care and community-based care, strengthening digitalisation and making sure patients are treated or cared for at the most efficient level. This offers the possibility to connect structural changes with an environmental transformation.
During COP26, 18 countries (including two EU Member States) have committed to cutting all carbon emissions from their health systems over the next 10 to 30 years and during the same period in total fifty countries (including six EU Member States) have committed to creating climate resilient, low carbon, sustainable health systems.
In February 2022, the WHO published a report on the waste that had been generated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, even more emphasising the need to improve waste management systems of the health and care systems. The report states that 30% of healthcare facilities word-wide, and 60% in the least developed countries, are not fit to handle the waste generated even when not taking the extra waste generated by the pandemic into account. Not only does this pose environmental risks such as water and air pollution, but it also poses a risk to health workers’ safety by increasing the risk of being exposed to stick injuries, burns and pathogenic microorganisms.
Research and innovation activities under this topic should be specific to health and care sectors. They should include cost studies when relevant (environmental impacts and benefits to be quantified through the life cycle thinking approach (e.g. LCA/SLCA), to be effectively implemented in line with the European Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan) and piloting research results onsite in hospitals or other care settings while generating accessible knowledge could be included. Apart from that, successful proposals should address several of the following:
- Research and innovative solutions for decarbonisation of hospitals and other care providers: improvements in new and existing building stock, decarbonisation of energy supply to premises, reduction in energy demand of hospital sites and other care facilities (for example heating and cooling, hot water, laundry, cooking, transport systems).
- Research and innovative solutions for increased circularity of hospitals or other care providers that integrate the zero-pollution ambition: such as solutions to reduce waste, improved waste management practices (with a possible focus on water effluents and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)), increased circularity (for example sustainable use of linen).
- Research and innovative solutions for decarbonisation and greening of supply chains and material inflows: reduction of single-use plastics, substitution of anaesthetic gases and inhalers with high global warming potentials (GWPs), substitution of conventional pharmaceuticals with green(er) alternatives, low-carbon supply chains of food, waste reduction, management models on for example prescription of pharmaceuticals.
- Development of a framework to measure and benchmark the environmental footprint of the health and care sectors or improving infrastructures for relevant collecting, sharing, accessing and processing of data.
Projects with interdisciplinary teams representing the health and care sectors, and the environmental sector or other relevant sectors are welcome.
This topic requires the effective contribution of social sciences and humanities (SSH) disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities.
All projects funded under this topic are strongly encouraged to participate in networking and joint activities, as appropriate. Therefore, proposals should include a budget for the attendance to regular joint meetings and may consider covering the costs of any other potential joint activities without the prerequisite to detail concrete joint activities at this stage. The details of these joint activities will be defined during the grant agreement preparation phase.
Applicants are encouraged to consider how their proposals can contribute in the context of the European Green Deal, and to take into account the principles of the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Zero Pollution Action Plan as well as the Technical guidance on the climate proofing of infrastructure in the period 2021-2027.
Applicants envisaging to include clinical studies should provide details of their clinical studies in the dedicated annex using the template provided in the submission system. See definition of clinical studies in the introduction to this work programme part.
Expected effects and impacts
- Policy and decision makers, providers of health and care, health and care workers and citizens have increased knowledge on how today’s health and care systems are not environmentally sustainable, what the possible costs of that are (today and future) and where improvements are possible with maintained or improved quality of care (optimal patient safety not being jeopardised) and possible investments needed.
- Policy and decision makers and providers of health and care services have access to innovative solutions, organisational models (including financing models), and guidelines and recommendations that reduce the pollution and carbon emissions stemming from health and care systems, so that health and care provision can become more sustainable and cost-effective while maintaining or improving quality of care thanks to the reduction of energy and materials use, decreased carbon emissions, reduced waste and discharges, and efficient resource management.
- Monitoring and reporting of carbon emissions and pollution is mainstreamed through a life-cycle approach and with standard methods in the health and care systems.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
EU Body, Education and training institution, International organization, Natural Person, 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)
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
Applications may be submitted by one or more legal entities, which may be established in a Member State, Associated Country or, in exceptional cases and if provided for in the specific call conditions, in another third country.
In recognition of the opening of the US National Institutes of Health’s programmes to European researchers, any legal entity established in the United States of America is eligible to receive Union funding.
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.
- 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.
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)
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.
The award criteria are described in General Annex D. The following exceptions apply: The thresholds for each criterion will be 4 (Excellence), 4 (Impact) and 3 (Implementation). The cumulative threshold will be 12.