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INtegrated Spatial PlannIng, land use and soil management Research ActTION

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - INSPIRATION (INtegrated Spatial PlannIng, land use and soil management Research ActTION)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-02-28

Europeans need multi-functional and healthy soils – safeguarded by effective urban and rural spatial planning and sustainable management. Best available knowledge has to be considered to maintain natural capital while satisfying the needs of a prosperous society. Research and knowledge dissemination are fundamental to securing soils and land for next generations, for competitive economies and healthy landscapes.
The Coordination and Support Action INSPIRATION (INtegrated Spatial PlannIng, land use and soil management Research AcTION) was to establish and promote a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for land use, land use changes and soil management in the light of current and future societal challenges. Coordinated by the German Environment Agency (UBA), 22 European partner institutions from 17 countries aimed at formulating, consulting on and revising an end-user oriented SRA, as well as to scope out models for implementing this SRA and prepare a network of funding institutions willing to fund it. The consortium applied a multi-stakeholder, multi-national and interdisciplinary, demand-driven approach engaging with the diversity of stakeholders (public bodies, business, science, citizens and society) and the variety of relevant public and private funders.
The SRA addresses societal challenges related to land and soil. It considers soil and land use management challenges, including the links between the soil-sediment-water (SSW) system and topics, such as health, energy, climate change, resilient water supply. It recognizes the need for new knowledge and new applications of knowledge to plan, manage and use land and the SSW system. The SRA is designed to help public and private research funders identify research they should invest in to innovate and contribute to a greener, more socially cohesive, smarter and more competitive Europe.
Sustainable land management requires the creation of new knowledge and the innovative application of new and existing knowledge in the way we plan, manage and use land and soil. The INSPIRATON SRA identifies what is needed according to over 500 Europeans funders, scientists, policy makers, public administrators, consultants, etc.
Effective funding models, e.g. for transnational co-funding, are key to creating synergies for organisations wishing to invest in research activities. INSPIRATION partners agreed to offer support for interested funders for at least 18 months following the funding phase. National Contacts are available for providing support and for facilitating cross-country contacts regarding specific research demands for co-funding. The complete SRA, background on its development and information about the National Contacts is available at
The vehicle to engage with all relevant stakeholders across Europe was structured communication through a National Focal Point (NFP) in each of the 17 participating countries. In the first project year, the NFPs interviewed National Key Stakeholders (NKS), performed desk studies and organized workshops to gather information about real knowledge demands. At the European level, networks, e.g. from industry, policy-making and regulation, were invited to share their experiences, research demands and funding interests. Next, the collated demands were structured and prioritised in an iterative stakeholder consultation approach. Finally, the SRA was scoped, verified and delivered and a matchmaking of potential funders for its implementation was initiated. INSPIRATION was actively engaging with more than 500 stakeholders of funders, end-users and researchers across the various soil and land management disciplines in developing its SRA.
As a result, the “Europeans’ Strategic Research Agenda for Integrated Spatial Planning, Land Use and Soil Management” is based on research and innovation needs identified by over 500 stakeholders from across Europe. This approach was chosen to ensure that research needs reflect genuine demand from end users. It was designed to both attract research funding by public and private parties and to ensure that knowledge is widely applied by public sector bodies, SMEs and large enterprises wishing to innovate and contribute to a greener, more socially cohesive, smarter and more competitive Europe.
The SRA – which is publicly available at – is particularly addressing research funders to identify research activities they are interested in funding especially transnational in cooperation with funding institutions from other countries. Collaboration can create many synergies in particular when an organisation does not have the resources to fund a specific research activity alone although the need for research is identified. Furthermore, end-users, researchers and citizens – are also addressed in parts of the SRA.
INSPIRATION strove to make a difference through both i) the legitimacy of the demand driven basis of the bottom-up Strategic Research Agenda and ii) a strongly independent promotion of the mutual benefit of cooperation by funders.
Agreed vision and SRA – INSPIRATION facilitates more integrated action in the next decade by implementing the SRA through initiatives which reflect societal challenges along with the individual demands of funding agencies and private partners.
Connecting/network of national funding agencies: synergies – INSPIRATION contributed to matching Europe’s funding agencies on soil and land by facilitating shared research and innovation actions at different implementation levels to deliver better value for money knowledge creation and transfer. The nature and extent of uptakes by stakeholders and in the number of funder-SRA-topic matches will indicate INSPIRATION’s success in the long run. As of February 2018, the web-database collated more than 900 expression of interest for parts of the INSPIRATION SRA.
Enhanced impact of research and innovation activities – Impact will be enhanced by public sector, businesses, industry and general society providing evidence-based policy and R&I priorities. Their involvement as National Key Stakeholders (NKS) all along the INSPIRATION project – from the identification of R&I needs to the consultations for matchmaking the SRA and the funding options – will increase the impact of implementing the SRA.
Effective Communication – Effective internal communication was supported by an intranet and ensured by the open character of the INSPIRATION process and the deep mutual respect among project partners. Effective external communication had been through regular updates of the project website, communication with national key stakeholders involved in the national and thematic workshops and via INSPIRATION’s e-newsletter, webinars and final event promoting the SRA and its implementation as well as conference and scientific literature contributions.
Evidence-based policy making, in particular a land-degradation neutral world – INSPIRATION formulated the SRA through an open process which challenges stakeholders acting on sectorial policies, such as spatial planning, agriculture, resource efficiency, biodiversity and green infrastructure or EU cohesion, to work towards achieving a land-degradation neutral world. The relevance and needs of policy was integrated in the operational work of INSPIRATION, in SRA topics and through annual meetings and two policy-oriented workshops.