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Demonstrating how regions can operate within safe ecological and regional nitrogen and phosphorus boundaries
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 4: Clean Environment and Zero Pollution
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
Successful proposals will deliver, to all actors involved in nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) emitting activities in a given region, a demonstrated set of measures to limit N/P emissions and re-balance N/P flows within safe ecological boundaries at regional and local scale, thereby contributing to restoring ecosystems in line with the European Green Deal and the EU zero pollution action plan.
Building on recent innovations in regional N/P budgeting and quantification methodologies to ensure good status for air, water and soil ecosystems, this Innovation Action should demonstrate how to apply optimised N/P budgets, based on maximum allowable inputs of N/P at a regional/river basin scale, and create the necessary systemic and multi-actor transition pathways to ensure a sustainable integrated N/P management in the future. The aim is to show how N/P-relevant sectors (e.g., agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, industrial sectors, food/drink sector, water supply, water/waste management, bioenergy, fossil-based energy production, mining activities, transport, unintentional losses through leaching and run-off of agricultural nutrients etc.) in a given region can limit N/P emissions to air, water and soil from their activities by respecting pre-established regional N/P budgets and applying N/P balancing practices. N/P-balancing practices comprise activities that enhance the sustainability and circularity of N/P relevant resources and services between urban/industrial and rural/coastal environments and apply respective governance measures. Finally, it will be essential to develop comprehensive guidelines to disseminate best practices and techniques to all involved actors.
- Implement a reliable N/P budgeting methodology to identify the maximum allowable input of N/P at regional/river basin scale and ensure good status for air, water and soil ecosystems. N/P budgets should stay within safe ecological and regional boundaries, i.e. by respecting limit values of N/P in air, water and soil, as specified in existing EU legislation or based on recent scientific evidence and complying with the precautionary principle.
- Demonstrate single or integrated region-specific practices in all relevant N/P sectors that help balance emissions from N and P-based fertilisers in agriculture, enhance soil health, reduce eutrophication and water pollution and limit harmful emissions to air.
- Showcase how innovative governance models can contribute to fostering ecologically responsible and sustainable use, recovery and exchange of N/P relevant resources, services and infrastructures between urban/industrial and rural/coastal environments while meeting overarching EU objectives (farm to fork and biodiversity strategies).
- Test innovative practices and technologies to make use of secondary raw materials and produce N and P-based fertilisers recovered from organic waste, wastewater, biological residues or by-products and promote local and regional value chains.
- Apply novel governance approaches and other incentives supporting practices to limit N/P emissions and develop respective guidelines and recommendations for all concerned stakeholders (local and regional authorities, municipalities, environmental organisations, farmers and other practitioners industry, civil society etc.), to encourage behavioural change and public acceptance of recovered products as well as more effective problem-solving mechanisms while envisaging regional twinning and mentoring schemes.
- Disseminate results and best practice to all stakeholders involved across the EU and Associated Countries, and provide recommendations on the design of harmonised, coherent and efficient regional policies and regulatory instruments that facilitate eliminating and preventing N/P pollution.
Applicants are encouraged to join different regional clusters per project and to diversify their proposed consortia by involving a wide range of relevant stakeholders, such as primary producers and practitioners, local and regional administrations, municipalities, related industries, environment organisations, academia, civil society, citizens, etc.
The projects funded under this topic are expected to build close links and exchange knowledge and information with the Horizon Europe Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030”. In particular, they should link to the Mission activities under Objective 2 – “Prevent, minimise and eliminate pollution in marine and freshwater environment”, and to the Mission lighthouse activities in the Mediterranean sea basin focusing on the prevention, reduction and elimination of all kinds of pollution in marine and freshwater ecosystems, including pollution from excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen).
This topic will be part of the demonstration projects for the implementation of the European Commission’s Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI) and must be carried out in close cooperation with it.
SSH aspects should be included.
Projects results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Best practice, including technical and governance solutions, to reduce N/P emissions into water, air and soil from all emitting sectors, in line with relevant EU limit values;
- Demonstrated environmental, economic and behavioural effects of aforementioned N/P limiting solutions while promoting local and regional sustainability and circular economy schemes;
- Comprehensive guidance on sustainable and circular practices to control regional N/P flows at regional level in the EU, and recommendations to relevant actors (policymakers, local administrations, practitioners, industries etc.).
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
Activities should reach TRL 8 by the end of the project.
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.