Rural development Specific challenge: Agriculture, forestry and the agri-food sector are integral parts of the European economy and society. They are subject to multiple pressures from external drivers, which include rising food, feed, fuel and fibre demand, globalisation, environmental changes and public health aspects, and are constrained by planetary boundaries such as land and water limits. With the expected increase in global population, demand for animal food products and competition for natural resources, agriculture and forestry will need to become more efficient, and sustainable. Scope: Proposals should address the following issues (B): B.  Rural development Supporting rural development initiatives, with a view to promoting viable innovations in European regions; to ensure cohesion of rural areas and prevent economic and social marginalisation, foster diversification of economic activities (including the service sector), ensure appropriate relations between rural and urban areas. The main objective of these ERA-NETs is to pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national (or regional) research programmes and the EU and to implement joint trans-national calls with EU co-funding in the above areas (one co-funded call per grant agreement, resulting in grants to third parties). Thematic focusing of these calls should be commensurate with the funds available, so as to ensure a reasonable rate of success in the call. The ERA-NETs should seek synergies with other relevant European and international research and innovation initiatives affecting sustainability and resilience of agriculture and food systems, in particular the FACCE and HDHL Joint Programming Initiatives. In line with the objectives of the EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, proposals are encouraged to consider international cooperation, and the ERA-NETs should be open to participation by third countries national programmes. The proposals should also aim at implementing other joint activities including additional joint calls without EU co-funding. The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 5 million for (B) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Expected impact: · improve coordination and reduce the overlap between national and EU funding in relevant fields of research; · achieve a critical mass and ensure better use of limited resources in fields of mutual interests; · share good practices in implementing research programmes; · promote transnational collaboration and new knowledge generation and innovation; · mobilise SMEs, when appropriate, in the transnational projects to enhance innovation. · provide mapping of on-going research activities (where relevant); · establish a network of research activities carried out at national and regional level, including a mutual opening of national and regional research programmes (where relevant). Type of action: ERA-NET Cofund  This is without prejudice to the general rules on the funding of legal entities from third-countries, as set in part A of the annex to the work programme.