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Ecosystems and their services for an evidence-based policy and decision-making

The first EU-wide Ecosystem Assessment report states that Europe’s ecosystems, on which we depend for instance for food, timber, clean air, clean water, climate regulation and recreation, suffer from unrelenting pressures caused by intensive use of land or sea , climate change, pollution, overexploitation of natural resources and invasive alien species. Ensuring that ecosystems achieve or maintain a healthy state or a good condition is a key requirement to secure the sustainability of human activities and human well-being.

The successful proposal should cover the main knowledge gaps identified by the EU Ecosystem assessment[[Maes, J., Teller, A., Erhard, M., Condé, S., Vallecillo, S., Barredo, J.I. Paracchini, M.L. Abdul Malak, D., Trombetti, M., Vigiak, O., Zulian, G., Addamo, A.M. Grizzetti, B., Somma, F., Hagyo, A., Vogt, P., Polce, C., Jones, A., Marin, A.I. Ivits, E., Mauri, A., Rega, C., Czúcz, B., Ceccherini, G., Pisoni, E., Ceglar, A., De Palma, P., Cerrani, I., Meroni, M., Caudullo, G., Lugato, E., Vogt, J.V. Spinoni, J., Cammalleri, C., Bastrup-Birk, A., San Miguel, J., San Román, S., Kristensen, P., Christiansen, T., Zal, N., de Roo, A., Cardoso, A.C. Pistocchi, A., Del Barrio Alvarellos, I., Tsiamis, K., Gervasini, E., Deriu, I., La Notte, A., Abad Viñas, R., Vizzarri, M., Camia, A., Robert, N., Kakoulaki, G., Garcia Bendito, E., Panagos, P., Ballabio, C., Scarpa, S., Montanarella, L., Orgiazzi, A., Fernandez Ugalde, O., Santos-Martín, F., Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services: An EU ecosystem assessment, EUR 30161 EN, Pulications Office of the European Union, Ispra, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-17833-0, doi: 10.2760/757183 JRC120383.]] report to improve the assessment of the condition of ecosystems while providing uptake of the assessment’s outcomes in policy. It should develop and test indicators not yet available for supporting the ecosystem and services assessment. This includes developing the minimum criteria, reference levels and aggregation schemes to define good ecosystem condition. This definition is not restricted to protected areas, but should encompass also forests, agroecosystems, urban areas, soil ecosystems, wetlands, fresh water and marine ecosystems. The proposal should addresses regional diversity and the corresponding decision level.

The proposal should investigate how good ecosystem condition is related to the capacity of ecosystems to deliver ecosystem services and focus on quantification of ecosystem services and on data derived from biodiversity and ecosystem monitoring in combination with models to study these. The proposal should develop and test methods and tools (in particular methods developed for natural capital accounting) to consistently report harmonised and verified ecosystem data at EU and Member State and Associated Country level that can be used to regularly report or assess the pressures and condition of ecosystems, dynamics, trends and changes over time.

The proposal should bring the individual MAES components 1) map ecosystems, 2) map and assess condition of ecosystems, 3) map and assess ecosystem services delivered by ecosystems together in integrated ecosystem assessments to better understand how the condition of various ecosystem types influences the delivery of different ecosystem services.

The proposal should demonstrate how to apply the MAES[[https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/knowledge/ecosystem_assessment/index_en.htm]] outputs and other relevant ecosystem knowledge in practical policy, including its implementation, and other decision-making process (public and private) at various spatial and temporal scales while involving relevant stakeholders and citizens.

The proposal should follow up on European and global projects and networks to facilitate dialogue among the relevant scientific communities, funding bodies, relevant stakeholders and user communities in Europe throughout the duration of Horizon Europe.

The proposal should test and demonstrate the links between biodiversity, ecosystems and macro-economic policies and national policies for instance on agriculture, fisheries, forestry and climate. The proposal should develop and test practical applications seeking to harness the full potential of ecosystem services for evidence-based decision making. Ecosystem services need to be uptake and better integrated in different sectoral policies including, amongst others, urban and regional development, the common agricultural policy, conservation planning or marine spatial planning.

Applicants should create synergies with relevant projects under this Call. To this end, proposals should include dedicated tasks and appropriate resources for coordination measures, and, where possible, foresee joint activities and joint deliverables. Furthermore, cooperation is expected with the Biodiversity Partnership[[https://www.biodiversa.org/1759]] (HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-02-01) and the Science Service HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-19. The proposal should set practical policy recommendations for the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 targets, commitments, and ecosystem services-related policies, thereby contributing to the implementation, monitoring of progress and ratcheting up of the strategy’s commitments as part of the European Green Deal.

The successful proposal should show how their results might provide timely information on relevant project outcomes. Cooperation is expected with projects under “HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-20: Support to processes triggered by IPBES and IPCC” and “HORIZON-CL6-2022-BIODIV-01-10: Cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity” for major science-policy bodies such as the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The successful proposal should ensure that all evidence, data and information will be accessible through the Oppla portal, and prepare the inclusion of its results, knowledge synthesis and policy briefs to the EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity. In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement. Where relevant, creating links to and using the information and data of the European Earth observation programme Copernicus, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) is expected.