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Innovating for climate-neutral rural communities by 2050
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 6: Resilient, Inclusive, Healthy and Green Rural, Coastal and Urban Communities
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
The successful proposal will contribute to fostering a sustainable, balanced, equitable and inclusive development of rural areas, supporting the implementation of the long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas and its objectives (in particular contributing to stronger and resilient rural areas) and to its flagship initiative “Research and innovation for rural communities”, the European Green Deal, in particular the climate pact, the fit for 55 package, the forest and biodiversity strategies, and the new soil strategy as well as the territorial agenda 2030, the common agricultural policy (CAP) and the REPowerEU plan. In addition, proposals will complement the EU Mission Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities, covering sparsely populated areas, and contribute to the objectives of the EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’.
The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. This objective is in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement and it is reflected in the European Green Deal objectives. Considering that approximately one third of EU citizens live in rural areas, which represent 83% of the EU territory, it is key to empower rural communities to transit towards sustainability by fostering innovation in key areas such as environment and sustainable management of resources (air, soil, water), energy, transport, agriculture, industry, bioeconomy, and finance and ensure that no one is left behind.
Projects funded under this topic are expected to:
- design, prototype and test concrete innovations (technical, social, organisational) supporting climate-neutrality, zero pollution and biodiversity enhancement in rural communities, possibly including initiatives such as nature-based solutions (NBS), circularity and bioeconomy, bio-based solutions, community-energy systems, climate-neutral mobility, fire-prevention, etc. Innovations should be co-created with rural stakeholders to respond to their needs and tested for their feasibility for the territorial development opportunities or drawbacks that they bring;
- include training and capacity building for local administrations and rural stakeholders in order to create and maintain a rural innovation ecosystem and enable them to make use or benefit from the successful innovations developed and from existing funding opportunities for the green and digital transitions;
- boost networking and enhance peer-to-peer learning between communities and capitalise on lessons learnt making them available as recommendations for policy makers at various levels (European, national, regional and local);
Proposals are encouraged to fully exploit and build complementarities with the ongoing work regarding the establishment of the European Open Science Cloud and interact with relevant projects developing metadata standards and added value tools to ensure interoperability within and across fields of study.
This topic should involve the effective contribution of social sciences and humanities (SSH), (e.g., for expertise in behavioural change, etc.) and must implement the multi-actor approach by involving relevant stakeholders from an early stage (e.g. rural communities representatives, small-medium enterprises -SMEs, etc., end-users, local authorities, etc.).
Proposals should cover various biogeographical regions with a balanced coverage reflecting the various pedo-climatic zones in Europe in a representative way.
Proposals are expected to build on the preliminary results of the Horizon Europe projects GRANULAR and RUSTIK, in particular its framework and indicators on climate-neutrality of rural communities.
Proposals should also create synergies and coordinate activities with the other project funded under this topic and should allocate appropriate budget for this task. Proposals are also encouraged to build synergies with relevant projects that will be financed under this call.
Project results are expected to contribute to all of following expected outcomes:
- rural communities are empowered and engaged in the green transition and equipped with strategies and innovative solutions to contribute to EU’s climate-neutrality objectives (by 2035 and 2050) and benefit from a climate-neutral economy;
- rural communities take advantage of data, interoperable platforms and digital technologies available to help them meet climate-neutrality objectives, such as dashboards, data visualisation techniques, modelling, digital twins of entire rural communities and tools contributing to spatial planning;
- policy makers are better informed about policy and regulatory frameworks, conditions and processes that are likely to encourage rural areas’ climate-neutrality while sustaining an adequate social welfare and well-being and avoiding negative social, economic and environmental externalities;
- a stronger rural innovation ecosystem is in place bringing together public and private players and making rural areas an attractive place for innovators to work and live.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), 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), New Zealand (Aotearoa), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
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)
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.
- 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
The proposals must use the multi-actor approach. See the definition of the multi-actor approach in the introduction to the work programme.
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).
This call follows a two-stage approach.
This topic is part of the blind evaluation pilot under which first stage proposals will be evaluated blindly. Applicants submitting a proposal under the blind evaluation pilot (see General Annex F) must not disclose their organisation names, acronyms, logos, nor names of personnel in Part B of their first stage application (see General Annex E).
The limit for a first-stage application is 10 pages. The limit for a full application (Part B) is 50 pages.
Eligible costs will take the form of a lump sum.