Agri, Food & Bioeconomy funding 2021-2022
With the start of the new 7-year programme ‘Horizon Europe’ approaching, the follow-up of Horizon 2020, it is time to identify the programme’s funding opportunities for the coming years. This article provides an overview of the spearheads of the work programme in the cluster ‘Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment’ and what to expect from the calls within this cluster in 2021 and 2022.
Horizon Europe 2021 – 2022
Horizon Europe will fund research and innovation (R&I) activities, distributing a total budget of €95.5 billion between 2021 and 2027. It is estimated that more than half of the budget will be invested in R&I related to ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’ (pillar 2 in the figure). This budget will be divided over six clusters, one of which relates closely to Catalyze’s Agri, Food & Bioeconomy branch: ‘Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment’.
A draft of the work programme of Horizon Europe for Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment for 2021-2022 has been released. Based on this programme, the calls for proposals will be defined. The European Green Deal is strongly represented in this work programme. Within this cluster there are 7 destinations, under which the calls for proposals will fall:
- Biodiversity and ecosystem services
This destination contributes to the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy of the Green Deal, an ambitious long-term plan for protecting nature and reversing the degradation of ecosystems. The EU will invest in R&I for policy targets, nature-based solutions and holistic approaches to address the main causes of biodiversity loss, particularly in connection to production systems, and enhance ecosystem-based management. These R&I activities will help to protect and restore the integrity of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems, currently under multiple pressures, and their capacity to deliver a wide range of essential services.
- Fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food systems from primary production to consumption
This destination is strongly related to the ‘Farm to Fork strategy’ of the Green Deal, that supports the transition towards a sustainable food system. The EU will fund R&I activities that advance knowledge, build capacities and deliver diverse innovative systemic solutions, both technological and non-technological, to speed up the progress towards the objectives set in Farm to Fork. Calls in this destination will focus on sustainable farming practices, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, transforming to more safe, healthy, accessible and affordable foods with international cooperation.
- Circular economy and bioeconomy sectors
Within this destination, the circular economy and bioeconomy have a strong local and regional focus. This destination focuses on circular solutions at territorial and sectoral levels, for important material flows and product value chains, as well as key bioeconomy sectors such as sustainable bio-based systems, sustainable forestry, small-scale rural bio-based solutions, and aquatic value chains. R&I actions are expected to support the transition from non-renewables to waste and biomass as raw materials, climate-proof and GHG-neutral production, and consumption and resource efficiency.
- Clean environment and zero pollution
For calls in 2021 and 2022, this destination will have a strong focus on fresh and marine waters within the EU, particularly regarding nutrients, soil and air pollution, supporting the Green Deal’s Zero-pollution ambition. R&I actions should be aimed at preserving and restoring freshwater quality, reducing ocean pollution and restoring clean oceans, reducing excessive nitrogen and phosphorus flows and enhancing a zero-pollution circular, blue and bioeconomy.
- Land, oceans and water for climate action
This destination focuses on adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. R&I actions should improve understanding of the impacts of climate change, reduce GHG emissions of agricultural practices, mobilize carbon sinks and increase the capacity of agriculture and (marine) ecosystems to adapt to climate change.
- Resilient, inclusive, healthy and green rural, coastal and urban communities
This destination has a strong focus on social and behavioural aspects. The aim of R&I is to understand the impact of climate, environmental and socio-economic changes on communities, to create equal opportunities for everyone and to facilitate the transition towards smart, environmentally-friendly and resilient lifestyles.
- Innovative governance, environmental observations and digital solutions in support of the Green Deal
In order to deliver the Green Deal, while leaving no one behind, knowledge and innovative solutions to support policy-making are required, leading to a more science-based policy design. The aim of this destination is to improve decision-making and obtain tailored governance models by developing digital and data-based solutions and enhancing implementation and monitoring of policy.
In Horizon Europe, five mission areas, each containing a portfolio of missions, are established to increase impact and visibility. 10% of the annual budget for ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’ is allocated to fulfilling these missions, though it is not specified yet how the missions are related to the funding calls. The five mission areas are (1) Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation, (2) Cancer, (3) Climate-neutral and smart cities, (4) Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters, and (5) Soil health and food.
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