Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. Read more about the Horizon Europe programme here.
This call aims to develop and demonstrate protection and restoration solutions to address the degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems.
To support the implementation of the European Green Deal, the Biodiversity Strategy and the Nature Restoration Law, project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
Proposals under this topic are expected to show how their activities and results will achieve the Mission objective 1 - Protect and restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity, in line with the timeframe of the Mission phases, i.e.: by 2025 for the ‘development and piloting’ phase and 2030 for the ‘deployment and upscaling phase’.
Proposals under this topic will develop and demonstrate protection and restoration solutions to address the degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems. Proposals should significantly improve the management of marine protected areas in particular through definition of clear science-based conservation objectives and implementation of the necessary conservation measures to achieve those objectives. Amongst the conservation measures, proposals should entail implementation of passive restoration actions through e.g.: strict protection, either as a newly designated strictly protected areas or as part of the zoning in the existing marine protected areas. Proposals should address the whole marine ecosystem functioning in the designated area, including the seabed and its role in carbon storage and as fish spawning and nursery area. Nevertheless, in well justified cases, proposals may address either specific vulnerable species or habitats that are under strong pressures or that have the most potential to capture and store carbon. Proposals could consider and assess pros and cons of some active restoration activities whereby native habitat building species would be reintroduced in degraded marine and coastal habitats to facilitate the natural recovery.
Proposals should be site-specific, and the scale and range of the protected area for demonstration activities has to be ecologically relevant and impactful. At the same time, proposals should show a significant replication potential.
When identifying and restoring degraded areas, particular attention needs to be paid to ensuring that the ecosystem services these areas can provide are resilient to climate change and that the areas are adequately protected to prevent new degradation. Proposals should develop innovative, efficient and cost-effective tools and methods to measure the conservation results/outcomes in terms of improvements of biodiversity in demonstration areas.
The proposals should also address the creation and long term maintenance of adequate conditions for habitats and/or for the movement of individuals and more generally species and for increasing ecosystems’ capacity to adapt to climate change. Proposals should cover a wide range of ecosystem functions and services using a coherent and systemic approach and avoid the risk of trade-offs of focusing on one or very few ecosystem services at the expense of others. In this respect, seabed protection and restoration should be integrated, including preservation of seabed carbon sequestration capacity. The approach proposed has to show the potential to be up-scaled and reproduced at European level and beyond and develop a scalability plan.
The proposed innovation actions for the Blue Parks should seek the most effective and efficient management and supporting technologies to enable strict protection as a restoration measure and will closely follow the EU Guidance to Members States on the designation of additional protected or strictly protected areas.
Proposals are expected to contribute to the implementation of the existing legislation related to Marine Protected Areas (MPA), notably the Birds, Habitats and Marine Strategy Framework Directives. Proposals may consider marine Natura 2000 sites established under the Birds and Habitats Directives as well as explore new areas to reach the targets of protecting 30% of EU marine area by 2030, of which one third should be strictly protected.
National and local authorities and coastal communities should be involved in the design and implementation of innovative solutions to ensure that these solutions are successfully implemented in the long term. Citizen engagement is a pillar concept for the Mission and a key element in relation to conservation and restoration actions. Activities should, therefore, use innovative participatory management practices, citizen-science initiatives and awareness-raising actions to promote a proactive involvement of local communities including scientists, land and sea use planners, marine protected area managers, and other stakeholders, to enable co-creation of solutions. Awareness raising actions to inspire and generate co-ownership for protection of local habitat and biodiversity should be included as well as collaboration with existing initiatives. Citizen engagement related activities should also be gender-responsive and socially inclusive.
Proposals are expected to contribute to the implementation of the existing legislation, notably in relation to Natura 2000 and Marine Protected Areas, as well as to provide recommendations addressing environmental or anthropogenic pressures and how to overcome them. Governance issues could be examined as a way to ensure effectiveness of protection and conservation measures. Activities improving the state of vulnerable ecosystem conditions are expected to be integrated into best practices or innovative monitoring within relevant monitoring governance schemes.
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions, 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:
The total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 8.80 million.
The Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 8.80 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately.