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Environmental impacts of food systems
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 4: Clean Environment and Zero Pollution
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
The successful proposal should fill relevant knowledge and data gaps regarding the environmental and climate impacts of primary food production and harvesting. It should explain how it will deliver co-benefits to some of the Food 2030 priorities: climate, biodiversity and environment, circularity and resource efficiency, innovation and empowering communities.
There is an increasing understanding of the impacts related to the green-house gas (GHG) emissions stemming from food systems. Around one third of human-caused GHG emissions worldwide originate from food systems. A similar share of emissions is also recorded in Europe. Although the largest share of the GHG emissions and other relevant environmental impacts can be attributed to the primary food production (or harvesting in the case of fisheries), a significant amount of food-related environmental impacts is also generated in post-production and post-harvest processes along food supply chains. However, when considering wider environmental and climate impacts of food systems, more information is needed to understand these impacts, particularly when it comes to pollution stemming from food processing, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, trade, consumption (including emerging food consumption trends, such as products of alternative diets), food waste and end of life practices.
The relevant data covering these latter industries or practices are often less available and/ or accessible compared to the agricultural data, for example through the CAP indicators. At the same time, knowledge gaps also exist when it comes to environmental impacts of primary food production and harvesting. Therefore, the successful proposal should fill the relevant knowledge and data gaps. It should explain how it will deliver co-benefits to some of the Food 2030 priorities: climate, biodiversity and environment, circularity and resource efficiency, innovation and empowering communities. The data should be aligned with, and support the relevant objectives of the upcoming Sustainable food system framework initiative.
Proposals are expected to:
- Collect relevant qualitative and quantitative data on environmental and climate impacts related to water, air and soil pollution stemming from the food systems, biodiversity losses, climate change and negative impacts on human health, as well as data on freshwater consumption, soil erosion, resource and energy efficiency of food production and supply practices.
- Increase the accessibility of relevant high quality life cycle inventory data according to FAIR principles and the EU’s open science policy by setting up actions to develop, review and make available existing databases.
- Provide new data based on requirements for Environmental Footprint compliant datasets and in line with the 2021 Recommendation on the use of the Environmental Footprint methods.
- Assess the environmental impacts of food systems from a life-cycle perspective, using the Environmental Footprint methods.
- Identify and map opportunities and innovative solutions, including existing good practices that address the identified impacts and promote the uptake of sustainable food production (including harvesting) and/ or food supply practices, including consumption practices, with minimum impact.
- Identify and map opportunities and innovative solutions, including existing good practices, that maximise synergies among the three dimensions of sustainability (i.e. environmental – including climate and biodiversity, economic, social - including health), different sectors, as well as actors across the food systems (from production/ harvesting to consumption), minimising trade-offs and reducing pollution as well as other environmental and climate impacts in food systems as a whole.
- Implement the multi-actor approach by involving a wide range of food system actors and conducting inter-disciplinary research.
- In order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged.
- Where relevant, build on and expand the results of past and ongoing research projects and collaborate with relevant initiatives.
This topic has strong links with destinations “biodiversity and ecosystem services”, “fair, healthy and environment-friendly food systems from primary production to consumption” and “circular economy and bioeconomy sectors”.
The food sector contributes to food security but is also responsible for air, water and soil pollution. It can contribute to biodiversity loss, soil erosion and climate change, and it consumes excessive amounts of natural resources, including water and energy, while a significant amount of food is wasted. In supporting the implementation of the European Green Deal, the EU zero pollution action plan, the farm to fork strategy, the European climate pact, the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy and the Food 2030 initiative, the successful proposal should address all of the following outcomes:
- Increased overall knowledge of the environmental and climate impacts stemming from the food systems, including potential trade-offs/synergies with other sustainability aspects (environmental, social, economic).
- Robust evidence-based understanding of the impacts of food systems related to direct and indirect soil, water and air pollution that drive biodiversity losses, soil erosion, climate change and can negatively affect human health.
- Improved capacity to reduce the environmental and climate impacts of food systems, particularly in relation to pollution.
- Support to actors across the food systems through new available knowledge, shared existing data on environmental and climate impacts of food systems and identification of innovative solutions.
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 following additional eligibility criteria apply: the proposals must use the multi-actor approach. See 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).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.