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INSPIRATION Report Summary

Project ID: 642372
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.5.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INSPIRATION (INtegrated Spatial PlannIng, land use and soil management Research ActTION)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The way we steward soil resources and manage land use activities is central to ensuring Europe’s transition to a sustainable future for its citizens. The application of research findings and knowledge are fundamental to improve our approaches to securing soils and land for next generations, for competitive economies and healthy landscapes. Clever use of the (ecosystem) services provided by the soil-sediment-water-system (SSW-system) provides solutions for addressing societal needs and societal challenges.

The aim of the Coordination and Support Action (CSA) project INSPIRATION (INtegrated Spatial PlannIng, land use and soil management Research AcTION) is to establish and promote the adoption of a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for land use, land use changes and soil management in the light of current and future societal challenges. Main objectives are:
• Formulate, consult on and revise an end-user oriented SRA
• Scope out models for implementing of the SRA
• Prepare a network of private and public funding institutions willing to fund the SRA

Horizon 2020 calls for research and innovation that helps Europeans to achieve meaningful, harmonious and lasting societies that can cope with global (including climate) change and the pressures resulting from that change. INSPIRATION aims to develop a SRA that directly addresses these challenges through increasing of our understanding of the SSW-system and development of land use and land management practises in such a way that this SRA contributes to:
• Food security and food safety
• Secure supply of safe drinking water
• Secure energy supply and distribution
• The reduction of raw material and resource consumption
• Efficient use of natural resources
• Climate change mitigation and societal adaptation to that change

The activities to achieve the INSPIRATION objectives are based on a multi-stakeholder, multi-national and interdisciplinary, demand-driven approach that covers a diversity of stakeholders (public bodies, business, science, citizens and society) including a variety of relevant public and private funders.

INSPIRATION engages with relevant stakeholders across Europe via a National Focal Point (NFP) in 17 countries. From March 2015 to March 2016, the NFPs (1) interviewed National Key Stakeholders (NKS), (2) performed a desk study and (3) organized workshops – engaging with about 500 stakeholders of funders, end-users and researchers across the various soil and land management disciplines. The goal of these activities was to collate information as input for achieving of the main project objectives as stated above. Moreover, at European scale, networks, e.g. from industry, policy-making and regulation, have been invited to share their experiences, research needs and possibilities for (co-)funding of such research.

The outcomes of the collation of demands for research by end-users (including industry), researchers and funders were reviewed and subsequently clustered under four themes, which are:
• Resources demand and efficiency
• Natural capital
• Land management
• Net impact on global, EU and local scale

Moreover, integrated research topics have been identified, which are bridging the above mentioned themes or which address overarching research issues.

Based on these results, a cross-country and cross-discipline dialogue will subsequently be organized among the relevant user groups, private and public funding institutions and scientific communities in Europe in order to reach a trans-national, prioritized SRA and a model for execution of this SRA. Thus a framework for future research calls will be produced which will give private and public funders confidence that for each Euro they spend, they will get multiple Euros worth of knowledge in return.

INSPIRATION is coordinated by the German Environment Agency (UBA) and structured in five work packages (WPs) to achieve an efficient realisation of the project’s objectives:

“Project Management” in WP1 is to ensure an appropriate general management and organisational platform for the network to safeguard that all aspects of the project are well integrated and coordinated, including:
• Liaison between the consortium and the European Commission
• Handling contracting, financial administration and progress (periodic) reporting
• Submission of deliverables in a timely manner
• Support of the Core Group as key decision body in the consortium
Towards the final phase of the project, WP1 will organize INSPIRATION’s final conference.

In the first year of the project, the main objective of WP2 “Demands of research from industry, end-users and funders (State-of- the-art at national levels)” was to collate, review and synthesize for each country participating in INSPIRATION the following information:
• Demand-driven suggestions for the SRA, i.e. suggestions from the perspective of industry, end-users and funders
• Experiences regarding the exploitation of scientific knowledge to improve business opportunities and/or tackle other societal challenges
• Predominantly used as well as promising alternative funding schemes, mechanisms, programs for knowledge production and dissemination
• Experiences regarding the use of any trans-national, common budget for scientific knowledge production related to the scope of INSPIRATION
This was done keeping the tackling of the societal challenges in mind. National key stakeholders (consisting of the most relevant funders, end-users and researchers in soil, land use and land management) had a central role in WP2 as they were consulted in interviews and national workshops. The national reports resulting from WP2 are used in WP3 and WP4.

The objectives of WP3 “Transnational commons aggregated under integrated themes” are to:
• Achieve an overview of the transnational shared demands and experiences grouped under the four integrated themes based on the national reports
• Prioritise and elaborate the topics that could be included in the SRA (to be developed by WP4) under specific themes:
• Elucidate the opportunity to match (to be done under WP4) individual stakeholders (as funders) to specific SRA topics that could be shared transnationally

The objectives of WP4 “Developing, delivering and match-making of a strategic research agenda” are to:
• Develop the SRA for activities on soil, land-use and land management
• Explore and where feasible establish a match between the SRA and national funders potentially willing to fund collaboratively a specific part of the SRA
• Map out funding models for delivering the SRA

WP5 “International dissemination and communication” is to facilitate effective communication within the INSPIRATION project and with all stakeholder communities willing to contribute to the development and ultimate delivery of the SRA. WP5 objectives are to:
• Disseminate project results to the relevant societal and policy stakeholder groups and scientific communities in Europe and beyond
• Support quality assurance for INSPIRATION by appointing and engaging with an International Advisory Board composed of key representatives of international initiatives dealing with land and soil management challenges
• Organise policy review and gap analysis workshops
• Ensure also that needs of stakeholders, who are not directly participating in INSPIRATION, especially policy related parties and funding institutions, are met
• Motivate different stakeholder communities in Europe to take up INSPIRATION’s key deliverables (developed in WP4).

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

INSPIRATION is structured in five work packages (WPs). The Coordination and Support Action started in March 2015. As end of August 2016 the following work has been conducted and main results achieved:

WP1 – Project management
Task 1.1: Project management
A kick-off meeting took place in Berlin, 1-2 April 2015 and a mid-priject meeting in Faro, 8-10 June 2016. The project managing Core Group met face to face on 31 March and 2 December 2015 and 10-11 March and 8 June 2016 and has monthly online meetings.
A Consortium Agreement between all INSPIRATION partners was established. During the reporting phase, issues demanding an amendment of the Grant Agreement have been identified (e.g. accession interest of new beneficiaries) and have been negotiated within the consortium, concerned third parties and with the European Commission’s services. The EC’s scientific project officer has been informed regularly on the progress of the project.
Semi-annual activity reports facilitate a regular and iterative evaluation of the project’s progress. In the first 18 months, all 13 deliverables and 5 milestones due were submitted or achieved.
Task 1.2: Final conference
Lessons learned from participation in events so far, will be considered in organizing INSPIRATION’s final conference, which is scheduled to take place by end 2017.

WP2 – Demands of research from industry, end-users and funders (State-of-the-art at national levels)
Task 2.1: Kick off with National Focal Points (NFPs)
With NFP input at the INSPIRATION kick-off meeting, deliverable D2.1 “Memorandum of Understanding on how the National Focal Points should execute their tasks” was achieved.
Task 2.2: Registry of National Key Stakeholders (NKS)
For each country, NKS were approached and a register of a balanced group of stakeholders was established (comprising funders, end-users, researchers and different organisations) as documented in deliverable D2.2 “Registry of National Key Stakeholders cooperating in INSPIRATION”.
Task 2.3: Prepare a harmonized template for information collation
A template for interviewing of the NKS by the NFPs was prepared and discussed and agreed upon with WP5 (to ensure coherence with the WP5 policy workshop) and with WP1 (project coordinator). Thereafter this template was discussed in depth in a NFP training session (22-23 June 2015, Vienna), where NFPs of all countries were present. Furthermore, comments of the International Advisory Board were included. This all resulted in deliverable D2.3 “Template for national information collation”.
Task 2.4: Collate information at national levels
By autumn 2015, information was collated by the NFPs in their countries through desk studies and by interviewing in total (all countries together) 374 NKS (about 20 NKS per country). The results were reported in deliverable D2.4 “National report on collated information following the template”.
Task 2.5: Review and synthesises of the collated information
The NFPs organized national workshops where the collated information as reported in deliverable D2.4 was jointly reviewed, synthesized and prioritized with the national NKS and additional experts. In total (all countries together) 468 persons were involved. A draft of deliverable D2.5 “National reports with a review and synthesis of the collated information” was prepared and was reviewed by the CG. After further review by the NKS and IAB a milestone was achieved: MS4 “National reports with a state-of-the-art overview of: (1) R&I needs (of industry, end-users and funding agencies); (2) how science is connected to policy/practice; (3) national funding schemes; and (4) of transnational funding schemes”. And finally the main and concluding deliverable of WP2 was timely achieved: deliverable D2.5 “National reports with a review and synthesis of the collated information”.

WP3 – Transnational commons aggregated under integrated themes
Task 3.1: Initial meeting of WP3 and core group
Here the procedure of WP3 was discussed, which resulted in the deliverable D3.1 “Agreement on detailed approach for evaluation & synthesis of the WP2 reports”.
Task 3.2: Desk study
This task started with Theme Leaders (TLs) assessing the relevance of national research topics for Themes based on the conceptual model of INSPIRATION. A first set of Clustered Thematic Topics (CTTs) issues was identified (e.g. soil quality, conflicts of land use, development impact assessment methodology), and presented to NFPs during a WP3 workshop end of April 2016. Together with WP2, WP3 discussed and reassured the relevance of the thematic themes from national representatives’ points (NFP) of view. After the workshop, TLs revised their first collation and further elaborated the CTTs. These CTTs were basis for review and quality check with NKS in a first WP3-NKS meeting in Faro in June 2016.
Task 3.3: Transnational multi-stakeholder workshop
Back-to-back with the annual meeting of INSPIRATION in Faro on 9-10 June, WP3 TLs presented the CTTs in parallel session to NFPs, NKS and IAB members. The aim was a further content assessment and iterative revisions with stakeholders to a cross-check for completeness (collation of national topics and research needs) of the CCTs. Subsequent to Faro workshop an intensive and iterative exchange and engagement revision process of CTTs took place. D3.2 “First overview of the transnational shared state-of-the-art needed research and knowledge” was achieved in this context.
WP3 continued working on an advanced and revised collation of the transnational shared state-of-the-art needed research and knowledge in August 2016 as background for a second and final WP3-NKS workshop. Morever, based linking the CCTs and overarching research topics, 17 Integrated Research Topics (IRTs) were elaborated. CTTs and IRTs are to be finally revised in the Venice meeting 8-9 September 2016.
Task 3.4: Conclusive review and synthesis of collated results
This task will conclude WP3. In a meeting with the Core Group, results will be evaluated in order to agree upon the topics, priorities, potential coalitions that will enter the specific research agenda and matchmaking process in WP 4.

WP4 – Developing, delivering and match-making of a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) will start in month 20. The WP-Leader has participated next to Core Group meetings in a WP meeting with WP1, WP2 and WP5 (Paris, 18 May 2015) in order to prepare and link WP4 activities.

WP5 – International Dissemination and Communication
Task 5.1 International Advisory Board (IAB)
For providing expert review and support an IAB was set up, which is composed of experts representing international initiatives dealing with land and soil management challenges. A “First International Advisory Board meeting” took place back-to-back with the kick-off meeting in Berlin, achieving milestone MS1, and second one during the 2nd annual meeting in Faro. IAB recommendations have been reflected in deliverable D5.2 “Results policy workshops and IAB recommendations”. Activities of the IAB during the first year are tracked in deliverable D5.4 “IAB annual report”.
Task 5.2: Policy-oriented workshop with policy makers and impacted stakeholders at an early stage
The SRA will cover numerous thematic policies implemented at European or regional scales. Complementing the WP2 collation of inputs, visions and needs at the European scale were collected through a policy-oriented workshop (Brussels, 30 June - 1 July 2015). Results (achieving milestone MS13 “Policy oriented workshops”) are presented in deliverable D5.2.
Task 5.3: Setting up policy oriented workshop towards the end for contribution to the SRA will be in a later project stage.
Task 5.4: Dissemination of SRA and the proposed implementation models
As a key means, the website was launched on 28 June 2015 and is update regularly (fulfilling the deliverable D5.1 “Website and internet operational”). Subpages for each INSPIRATION country are available in respective national languages. Contributing to milestone MS2 “INSPIRATIONs website and intranet operational”, also a collaborative intranet was created.
A project communication plan has been developed and is detailed in deliverable D5.3 “communication plan and its update”. To facilitate stakeholder engagement, contacts have been established with networks in Europe, including NICOLE, SedNet, ICCL, but also beyond Europe, e.g. ALGA. Information about INSPIRATION was disseminated through articles, websites, a newsletter, social media (in particular twitter®) and participation in workshops and conferences.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"Soil and land use management needs to focus on sustainable use of natural capital and resources. It needs to understand the potentials, functioning and limits of the Soil-Sediment-Water-system. The underlying premise of INSPIRATION is that land and soil services are fundamental for meeting societal needs (food, drinking water, energy production, shelter, infrastructure) and overcoming societal challenges (climate change mitigation and adaptation, increasing demands on non-renewable natural resources, environmental justice).

The main aim of INSPIRATION is to develop a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) to inform environmentally friendly, socially acceptable and economically affordable soil and land use management that meets societal needs and challenges. Thereby, INSPIRATION strives to make a difference through both i) the legitimacy of the demand driven basis of the SRA for land and the SSW-system, land-use changes and soil management in Europe and ii) a strongly independent promotion of the mutual benefit of cooperation by funders in its delivery through various fit-for-purpose funding models.

Agreed vision and SRA
INSPIRATION will help achieve integrated and interdisciplinary action in the next decade by implementing the SRA through agreed common initiatives which reflect societal challenges along with the individual demands of funding agencies and private partners. The bottom up process of INSPIRATION will identify synergies between existing institutions and programs. "Knowledge requirements" and INSPIRATION’s dissemination and communication actions are designed to establish a long term "reform process" at the institutional and programme level. A key success indicator will be the declarations of interest of cooperation for the developed SRA.

Connecting/network of national funding agencies: synergies
INSPIRATION contributes to matching Europe’s funding agencies by developing shared research and innovation (R&I) programs at different implementation levels to deliver better value for money knowledge creation and transfer. Via the bottom-up approach at national level (interviews, national workshops and NKS-WP3 workshop) and European level (via policy-oriented workshops) a match-making process is initiated: individual funders are matched to, for them, recognizable, specific, transnational SRA topics. Thus INSPIRATION will propose R&I themes and topics at different levels of cooperation and motivate active participation during the final consultation process. The process will improve coordination of EU and Member State/associated country R&I programmes on a short, medium and long term basis. It will also include opportunities for initiatives on policy related programmes, like INTERREG, LIFE or URBACT. The nature and volume of engagement by stakeholders in the opportunity provided for a final checking the project outcomes and in the number of ‘funder-SRA-topic’ matches established will indicate INSPIRATION’s success.

Enhanced impact of research and innovation activities
Impact will be enhanced by public sector, businesses, industry and general society providing evidence-based policy and R&I priorities. Their involvement as National Key Stakeholders (NKS) all along the INSPIRATION project – from the identification of R&I needs to the consultations for matchmaking the SRA and the funding options – will increase the impact. By mobilizing the relevant actors (NKS) from the early start of INSPIRATION, the awareness for opportunities of the Soil-Sediment-Water-system, land use and soil management to tackle societal challenges and the support, engagement and willingness to contribute to the SRA (on a longer term) are increased and the network and collaboration possibilities are strengthened. This all contributes to the willingness and commitment to implement the SRA after the funding of INSPIRATION as a Coordination and Support Action.
By having interviewed 374 NKS and engaged with more than 450 experts in national workshops in 17 countries simultaneously, a unique overview of national societal challenges and related research questions has been generated. Also the information and experiences on science-policy-interface (SPI) and suggestions for funding possibilities offer great potential for the European research-end-user and funding community to improve current land management practices and exploit opportunities to address related societal challenges.
The success of INSPIRATION in achieving this objective has been indicated already by the actual number of stakeholders from different communities (e.g. funders, end-users, researchers) that have engaged in national interviews and workshops so far. The number of stakeholders participating in the elaboration of the integrated topics and the final verification of the SRA will be a further indicator.

Effective Communication
Effective internal communication is supported by an intranet and ensured by the open character of the INSPIRATION process and the deep mutual respect among project partners. Effective external communication will be through regular updates of the project website linked with existing high traffic portals and networks in this field, on-going communication with national key stakeholders involved in the national and thematic workshops, an INSPIRATION e-newsletter, webinars and EU info-days promoting the SRA and its implementation. The successfulness of achieving effective communication is indicated by the number of publications, special sessions and key-note speeches by INSPIRATION partners, number of visits on the project website, number of subscribers to the newsletter and attendees at workshops.

Evidence-based policy making, in particular a land-degradation neutral world
INSPIRATION will formulate the SRA through an open process completed in phases which challenges stakeholders (acting on the numerous sectorial policies – such as spatial planning, agriculture, resource efficiency, biodiversity and green infrastructure or EU cohesion) to work towards achieving a land-degradation neutral world. The relevance and needs of policy will be reflected in the operational work of INSPIRATION through annual meetings and two policy-oriented workshops to take place in the first and third project year. Success will be indicated by the number of countries taking into account the SRA and new funding schemes as well as by the extent of European and international organisations referring to INSPIRATION products in their agenda setting."

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