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 test nature-based solutions to protect critical infrastructure from climate change.
Projects results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
This topic relates to the Mission’s objectives to mobilise at least 150 regions in testing the solutions most locally needed to build climate resilience and to deliver at least 75 deep demonstrations of systemic transformations to climate resilience.
It complements the Climate Adaptation Mission topic 2021-CLIMA-02-03, which focussed on modelling aspects, as it mainly addresses demonstration of solutions on the ground, therefore providing a relevant context to eventually take further promising approaches already identified.
The proposal should identify weaknesses and interlinkages of critical infrastructures, in order to develop and test innovative solutions, combining technological and social innovation, leading to an increase of the resilience and adaptation capacity to climate change in the involved regions, local authorities and communities, assuring that nature-based solutions are explored as priority and at the very heart of the development whenever possible.
In line with the Mission Implementation Plan and moreover with the new EU Climate Adaptation Strategy, implementing nature-based solutions on a larger scale would increase climate resilience. Blue-green (as opposed to grey) infrastructures represent multipurpose, “no regret” solutions, which simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build climate resilience, which uptake can be facilitated by better quantification and communication of their benefits. Nature based solutions (NBS) essential role for sustaining healthy water, oceans, ecosystems and soils was recognised, together with their potential to reduce costs, provide climate-resilient services, and improve compliance with Water Framework Directive requirement for good ecological status, if they were to play a bigger role in land-use management and infrastructure planning. The resilience of nature-based solutions to climate change should also be taken into account.
As climate impacts, adaptive capacities and disaster risk reduction capabilities differ greatly across regions, the proposed scientific development and innovation should address specific needs identified at regional and local scale with tailor-made responses and measures, fully acknowledging place-based governance, socio-economic and identity characteristics and other place-based data. The successful methodologies and protocols are expected to be adapted to other regions, for further uptake.
In line with the Mission objective to build systemic climate resilience, the proposal should address the local vulnerabilities in order to mitigate the potential risks on the infrastructure being it as potential natural disasters, extreme weather events or long-term changes in average climate), as well as their potential negative impacts on critical assets and infrastructures and the interdependencies between those.
For example, the acceleration of deployment of renewable energy is not without consequences on other environmental and geopolitical challenges. The interdependency of water and energy is set to intensify in the coming years, with significant implications for both energy and water security. Coal and gas power plants require a lot of water, but also renewable sources could increase water stress or be challenged by it, either during operation or during the construction stage. For instance, hydropower requires water to be operated, so that droughts and water shortages that are likely to increase in the future may significantly affect its generation capacity in certain regions; on the other side, the expected increased water availability in certain regions might increase hydropower generation potential. Simultaneously, hydropower reservoirs can help in mitigating floods and store water, providing it during droughts. While wind or solar technologies require little water for their operation (but a significant amount, per unit of installed power capacity, during their manufacturing process), biofuels, concentrated solar power, carbon capture, renewable hydrogen produced through electrolysis or even low-carbon technologies like nuclear are water-intensive. Understanding these interlinkages and developing and testing solutions is therefore critical for the resilience of our economy and society, and to reduce sources of conflict.
Similarly, the achievement of a more interconnected Europe faces key challenges in the development of the interconnected transport networks and corridors, as changing groundwater levels, coastal storms frequency and their spatial incurrence, extreme temperatures, accelerated coastal erosion linked to sea level rise can have very negative effects on stability of rail and road infrastructures in coastal areas (clearly, this also affecting the development and lay down of energy and water networks laid in the proximity of coastal areas).
On that basis, the proposal should design and test solutions with the potential to reduce negative impacts both of long terms climate change and also of sudden extreme events attributable to climate change.
More specifically, the proposed solution should address:
Under the Mission approach, collaborations to develop and test effective solutions between regions/local authorities/ communities facing similar climate risks and similar infrastructure challenges are highly encouraged. To this purpose, the proposals must include at least 4 demonstrations taking place in at least 4 different regions/cities/communities, which should collaborate in addressing the challenge. These (at least) 4 demonstrations must be located in at least 3 different EU Member States and/or Horizon Europe associated countries. Involvement in the proposal of regions eligible for Cohesion funds to conduct at least one of the proposed demonstrations shall be regarded as a positive element. In agreement with the authorities responsible for the territories where the actions will be implemented, the consortium should develop a scalability plan including the diffusion of the innovative solutions, and a process for commitments (including funding and governance) in assuring their large-scale deployment and long-term operation beyond the time-life of the project itself. The consortium should seek guarantees for the non-reversibility, sustainability and continuity of the action after the end of the project.
The proposals should clearly identify the biogeographical area, for which the proposed solution is relevant and should explore possible reapplication to other regions, starting from those located in the same biogeographical areas. To support a large impact, the proposed solutions should be widely re-applicable. To this purpose, identification and inclusion of at least three “replicating” regions/local authorities/communities, interested in reapplying the lessons learnt (totally, partially or with the required adjustments) in their territories is strongly encouraged; this could take the form of inclusion in the consortium of one or more partners providing support for the technical exchanges and the knowledge uptake in the “replicating” regions.
In addition to the local/regional authorities owning the climate challenge, the consortium may include other type of partners, such as private or public research organisations, enterprises, and NGOs to ensure that all needed capabilities are available to develop and implement real life actions.
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
See the full list in the General Annexes.
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 34.81 million.
The Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 8.00 and 11.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately.