In support of the implementation of the Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy. Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Protect, restore and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, ecosystems and related services, including blueprints for the creation of socio-economic benefit and required socio-economic transition processes through innovative solutions for ecosystem-based management;
- Enhanced integrity and resilience of the ecosystem and restored European blue natural capital;
- A blueprint for the extension of marine protected areas or their status shifted from “protected” to “strictly protected” and creation of ecological corridors as part of a blue Trans-European Nature Network, and a strategy to build such network;
- Connected support for well-managed marine protected areas;
- Reinforced EU leadership in international efforts to combat biodiversity loss in line with the EU key priorities and international commitments, including through the protection, conservation, restoration and sustainable use of marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
Proposals under this topic will focus on innovation actions in protection, conservation and enhancement of the EU's blue natural capital that have the potential to be up scaled and reproduced at European level and beyond. Proposals will develop a strategic approach towards identifying needs, sharing innovation and transferring solutions between initiatives to create well managed marine protected areas. Proposals are expected to focus on marine biodiversity hot spots and enable ecological corridors leading to a truly coherent and resilient blue Trans-European Nature Network, and promoting and supporting investments in infrastructure that “builds with nature”. Projects will test and demonstrate novel methods, business models with revenue streams, social innovation to enable flexible socio-ecological management of protected areas to cope with a rapidly changing environment for coastal, offshore and deep-sea marine ecosystems, taking into account their connectivity and the need to preserve their inherent natural dynamics. Management and governance will ensure the sustainability of aquatic ecosystem protection initiatives. The proposals will duly consider national, local and regional protection and restoration initiatives, including relevant activities carried out under Regional Sea Conventions, to ensure effective management and governance of such initiatives and facilitate dialogue with all relevant stakeholders and show options to link such initiatives in a mutually supportive network.
Based on scientific evidence underpinning the extension of networks of marine protected areas, activities to map EU marine biodiversity, highlighting the high biodiversity value or potential ones, and assessing coherence of the existing networks will be carried out. The action should not be limited to specific areas, but rather be a large-scale activity that supports, inter alia, also the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs).
Proposals will build upon the existing digital knowledge systems for access to data, monitoring and forecasts and knowledge dissemination. MPA networks developed within regional seas conventions could also be considered for further actions. The proposed innovation actions for the Blue Parks will focus on the best-suited and most effective protection that will enable conservation and restauration, as per the biogeographical area or marine region. Identification of the best suited areas for marine protected areas under strict protection would be welcomed. Any proposal for new protected areas needs to concentrate on areas of very high biodiversity value or potential and be consistent with the Commission Guidance to Members States on the designation of additional protected areas, including a definition of a strict protection.
When identifying additional areas to be protected, particular account needs to be taken of the links between its ecosystems functions and their capacity to offer a wide range of services, in particular to contributing to mitigate and adapt to climate change, which are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and need to be made more resilient. Priority should be given not only to the protection of coastal biogenic habitat based carbon-rich ecosystems, but also of pelagic and benthic ecosystems, which have a more extensive coverage and therefore can provide a significant contribution restore ecosystem processes and functions including to mitigate climate change. Such ecosystems have inherent capacity to store carbon, but may also need to be protected to avoid the release to the atmosphere of the carbon that they currently store. Particular attention should also be given to creating the adequate conditions for the movement of species or habitats and more generally for increasing nature’s capacity to adapt to climate change.
The projects will look at all ecosystem functions and processes using a coherent and systemic approach and avoid the risk of trade-offs of focusing on one or very few ecosystem services at the expense of others.
Projects funded under this topic are strongly encouraged to participate in networking and joint activities with other projects funded under other topics in the Mission Ocean, seas and waters as well as in other relevant Missions, as appropriate. These networking and joint activities could, for example, involve the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Of particular importance in this context is topic HORIZON-MISS-2021-CLIMA-02-04: “Large scale demonstrators of climate resilience creating cross-border value”. For this purpose, proposals should provide for dedicated activities and earmark appropriate resources.
A strong cooperation is expected with Cluster 6 topic HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-12 (Improved science based maritime spatial planning and identification of marine protected areas).
Projects funded under this topic would benefit from networking and exchanges of information with the projects funded under other Cluster 6 topics: HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-10 (Demonstration of measures and management for coastal and marine ecosystems restoration and resilience in simplified socio-ecological systems); HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-03 (Understanding and valuing coastal and marine biodiversity and ecosystems services); HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01-04 (Assess and predict integrated impacts of cumulative direct and indirect stressors on coastal and marine biodiversity, ecosystems and their services); HORIZON-CL6-2022-CLIMATE-01-02: Understanding the oceanic carbon cycle as well as with activities supported under the H2020 Green Deal call, notably LC-GD-7-1-2020 Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The involvement of national and local authorities and coastal communities will be required in order to ensure that the solutions designed are best suited, co-created and with the necessary ownership for their successful implementation. Citizen engagement is a pillar concept for the Mission. Activities should, therefore, promote a proactive involvement of local communities, innovative management practices, developing adequate facilitation and mediation skills applied through a proactive approach that targets local populations and land & sea use planning decision‐makers, MPAs managers, and all relevant stakeholders, allowing for co-creation of solutions. Citizen engagement related activities should also be gender-responsive and socially inclusive.
Proposals are expected to contribute to the implementation of the existing legislation, notably in relation to Marine Protected Areas, by addressing environmental or anthropogenic pressures.
Proposals are expected to show how their activities and results will achieve the Mission’s objectives, in line with the timeframe of the Mission phases, i.e.: by 2025 for the ‘development and piloting’ phase and 2030 for the ‘deployment and upscaling phase’.
Eligible applicants are described in Annex B of the Work Programme General Annexes.
The following exceptions apply: If projects use satellite-based earth observation, positioning, navigation and/or related timing data and services, beneficiaries must make use of Copernicus and/or Galileo/EGNOS (other data and services may additionally be used).
The total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 17.00 million.
The Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 8.50 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
For more information, please see here.