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Integrated approaches to food security, low-carbon energy, sustainable water management and climate change mitigation:

Specific challenge: The rising demands of a growing world population for food, water, materials and energy will put increasing pressures on land use, water resources and ecosystems. Increased energy use leads to increased demands for cooling water for thermal power plants. Climate mitigation options such as biomass production for energy (biofuels) might also lead to increased land and water demands. Increased food and feed demand will put increasing pressures on land (e.g. deforestation leading to more greenhouse gas emission) and water resources. Such pressures will be compounded by the impacts of climate change which are likely to further modify the availability and suitability of these resources as well as affect agricultural productivity.

Tools to help explore options for low-carbon pathways, such as climate-energy models, currently lack a comprehensive integration of land-use and water systems, leading to an incomplete picture of the interactions between competing demands and the future viability and costs of adaptation and mitigation options as well as the environmental protection and agricultural challenges.

Despite considerable progress over the past ten years, the forecasting of natural water cycle variability and extreme weather events in the short and medium term still suffers from severe limitations. Improved understanding of the impacts of climate change on the hydrological cycle is necessary in order to better inform decision makers and ensure sustainable water supply and management of water systems, and quality of water bodies, in the EU.

Scope: Proposals shall address the following issues.

Integrated approaches to food security, low-carbon energy, sustainable water management and climate change mitigation:

Proposals should aim to:

  • develop tools and methodologies for integrating agriculture, forestry, climate change impacts and adaptation with climate-energy-economic models and land-use models, using a multi-disciplinary approach; 
  • consider the potential role, contributions and limitations of low-carbon options with respect to land and water resources;
  • develop a better scientific understanding of the land-water-energy-climate nexus;
  • develop integrated strategies and approaches, at different spatial scales (regional, national, continental, global), integrating resource efficient land use, agricultural productivity improvements, sustainable water management and low carbon energy transition and analysing interactions with the existing regulatory frameworks in these areas and the potential barriers to implementation.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 6 and 8 million (or more) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

Increased understanding of how water management, food and biodiversity policies are linked together and to climate and sustainability goals. Reduction of the uncertainties about the opportunities and limitations of low-carbon options, such as bioenergy technologies and resource efficiency measures, in view of relevant near-term policy initiatives. Contribution to future assessments, including those of the IPCC, with multidisciplinary and integrated tools.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions