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ERA-NET Cofund action on conservation and restoration of degraded ecosystems and their biodiversity, including a focus on aquatic systems

Based on priorities identified in the Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas of the Water Joint Programming Initiative (Water JPI) and of the BiodivERsA Partnership, proposals should pool together the necessary financial resources from the participating national (or regional) research programmes with a view to implementing a joint call for proposals resulting in grants to third parties with EU co-funding to improve the conservation and restoration of degraded ecosystems and their biodiversity, including a specific focus on freshwater aquatic systems. Research & innovation (R&I) supported through grants to third parties with EU co-funding under the joint call should cover all environments (i.e. terrestrial, freshwater and marine) and include a specific focus on freshwater aquatic systems. In addition, research under this joint call will support the implementation of relevant EU policies and objectives, and international endeavours. This will allow preparing a sustainable cooperation and coordination between Water JPI and BiodivERsA to increase synergies on cross-cutting issues, where appropriate. Participation of legal entities from international partner countries and/or regions including those not automatically eligible for funding in accordance with General Annex A is encouraged in the joint call as well as in other joint activities including additional joint calls without EU co-funding. Participants from countries not listed in General Annex A are eligible for funding under this topic and may request a Union contribution (on the basis of the ERA-NET unit cost) only for the coordination costs of additional activities.

The Cofund action should envisage clustering activities with other relevant selected projects for cross-projects co-operation, consultations and joint activities on cross-cutting issues and share of results as well as participating in joint meetings and communication events. To this end, proposals should foresee a dedicated work package and/or task, and earmark the appropriate resources accordingly. The Cofund action should also take into account data and information from the Copernicus programme, as well as the European Union's Earth Observation Programme.

Proposers are requested to include at least one additional joint call without EU co-funding as well as other activities such as the establishment or consolidation of a pan-European network of funding agencies and other key players in Europe. Wherever relevant, actions should involve social sciences and humanities.

The proposals should demonstrate that these co-funded other activities exclude any overlaps with related on-going actions co-funded by the EU under Horizon 2020.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Many of the world's ecosystems have undergone significant degradation with negative impacts on biological diversity and people’s livelihoods. There is a growing realization that we will not be able to conserve the earth's biological diversity and meet the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) through the protection of critical areas alone. Restoration and conservation of degraded ecosystems in terrestrial, freshwater as well marine environments are essential to ensure that they can continue to deliver their services and the livelihoods of people depending on these degraded ecosystems can be sustained. Further research and innovation at the European level is needed to fill the knowledge and evidence gaps to ensure the protection and/or restoration of water bodies and ecosystems and their biodiversity whilst meeting the socio-economic, political and cultural needs of current and future generations.

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • better management, conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems through science-based evidence and the deployment of on-the-ground actions;
  • the implementation of a relatively wide range of European policy initiatives including the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP); the EU Biodiversity Strategy; the Water Framework Directive; and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the EU Nature Directives and the EU Floods Directive;
  • Underpinning Europe’s endeavours to implement the UN SDGs, especially SDG 6 (‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’), SDG 14 (‘Life below water’), and SDG 15 (‘Life on land’);
  • Strengthening international leadership of European research in R&I on restoration and ecological engineering through transnational collaboration and enhanced synergy, coordination and coherence between national and EU funding in the relevant research fields.
  • Contribute to the European Commission’s Long-Term Strategy on GHG Emissions Reduction.