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Biodiversity, water, food, energy, transport, climate and health nexus in the context of transformative change

The European Green Deal and its biodiversity strategy call for transformative change, which requires the policy and tools to bring about transformative change. The post-2020 biodiversity goals risks to be missed from the outset if the required policy decisions are not taken and implementation is not secured. Policy makers find the task of translating science on transformative change into policy daunting and challenging. This is where European research and innovation together with the community outside academia (business, government organisations etc.) must urgently demonstrate what transformative change could actually mean and achieve for biodiversity. There is also a need for practical guidance to policy makers and society on the impacts of the necessary structural, ecological, social and economic transformations the European Green Deal could achieve.

The European Union and associated countries still need to identify the key factors in society that can stimulate or hinder this transition across the continent and share such findings with other regions of the world. This includes research into behavioural, social, cultural, economic, institutional, infrastructure, technical and technological factors.

Proposals should focus on indirect drivers of biodiversity loss: production and consumption patterns, human population dynamics and trends, trade, technological innovations, local to global governance (including financing), which in turn cause the direct drivers (land and sea use change, over-exploitation, climate change, pollution, invasive species).

With the focus on biodiversity, and links to human activity, proposals should examine how transformative change takes place in different societal and cultural contexts. They should look at what triggers these changes and what obstacles there are (behavioural, financial, policy, institutional, power setting etc). The proposals should measure and model their impact; and provide options for action (at individual, business and society level) to promote and enable transformative changes, including through nature-based solutions. Social innovation and the gender dimension should be explored when the solution is at the socio-technical interface and requires social change, new social practices, social ownership or market uptake. The proposals should should look at gender dynamics and diversity to investigate how different identities and social groups are tangibly promoting transformative changes through bottom-up transition initiatives for sustainable lifestyles that are of major relevance to biodiversity.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is for biodiversity and ecosystems services what IPCC is for climate change. In this context, this topic should support the upcoming IPBES assessments, expected to deliver in 2023-24, on transformational change and on the nexus of biodiversity, climate, water, food and health, with an additional focus on energy and transport. The IPBES assessment is expected to examine, inter alia:

(a) Values (relational, utilitarian, etc.) and how they influence behaviour;
(b) Notions of good quality of life, worldviews and cultures, models of interaction between nature and people and social narratives;
(c) The role of social norms and regulations, and of economic incentives and other institutions in leveraging behavioural change in individuals, businesses, communities and societies;
(d) The role of technologies and technology assessment;
(e) The role of collective action;
(f) The role of complex systems and transitions theory;
(g) Obstacles to achieving transformative change;
(h) Equity and the need for “just transitions”;
(i) Lessons from previous transitions.

The project should feed input into this assessment, critically examining the usability of the IPBES conceptual framework for these aspects.

Proposals should provide case studies and collect good and failed examples, including current and business models, the role of citizen science, and scenarios that could provide useful input into these transformations and inform and inspire transformative change through learning, co-creation and dialogue.

Proposals should build their analysis on synergies between multiple Sustainable Development Goals to deliver both direct and indirect biodiversity benefits. They should also look at the role of biodiversity in reaching the set of Sustainable Development Goals, when related to the interlinkages (nexus) between biodiversity, water, food, energy, transport and health[[Integrating lessons from the global ‘One Health’ and the One Health European Joint Programmes, IPBES workshop report on biodiversity and pandemics and cooperation with projects HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-11: ‘What else is out there? Exploring the connection between biodiversity, ecosystems services, pandemics and epidemic risk’ and HORIZON-CL6-2022-COMMUNITIES-02-02-two-stage: ‘Developing nature-based therapy for health and well-being’.]] in the context of climate change, the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, and the determinants of transformative change.

Proposals should include specific tasks and allocate sufficient resources to develop joint deliverables (e.g. activities, workshops, joint communication and outreach) with all projects on transformative change related to biodiversity funded under this destination. They should use existing platforms and information sharing mechanisms relevant to transformational change and to biodiversity knowledge[[BISE, EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity, BiodivERsA, Oppla, NetworkNature and their joint work streams.]]. Furthermore, cooperation is expected with the Biodiversity Partnership (HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-02-01), the Science Service HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-19, and the Convention on Biological Diversity and 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’.

This topic should involve contributions from social science and humanities disciplines.