Mediterranean sea basin lighthouse - actions to prevent, minimise and remediate litter and plastic pollution

Available Funding: 
€ 16,000,000


Expected outcome:

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Reduced pollution from litter, plastic and microplastic, in the Mediterranean Sea basin in line with the objectives of the EU Zero Pollution Plan and the Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean sea against pollution;
  • Reduce beach litter to less than 20 items per 100 meters of coastline in line with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requirement;
  • Accelerated uptake of innovative solutions to prevent and minimize litter, plastic and microplastic pollution;
  • Effective monitoring of marine litter quantities, in line with EU methodologies, such as Single Use Plastics Directive and assessment of the impact of implemented measures;
  • Support WFD and MSFD implementation, which provide indicators and mechanism for assessments and measures to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES);
  • Empowered citizens taking action against pollution.


In line with the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan for Air, Water and Soil, proposals should demonstrate scalable breakthrough innovations (technological, business, social and governance) to prevent and minimize marine and freshwater pollution from litter, plastics and microplastics.

Following the zero pollution hierarchy, proposals should focus on demonstrating replicable solutions to prevent and minimise pollution in the Mediterranean Sea including its major river catchment areas and taking into consideration land-sea interactions through measures, such as:

  • Upstream prevention of litter, plastic and microplastic generation by design;
  • Substitutes or alternative less polluting substances and materials (especially alternatives to plastics and microplastics) for the most prevalent litter found in freshwater and at sea;
  • Circular design of fishing gear, including improved reparability and durability (while improving selectivity to reduce discard of bycatches and improved energy efficiency) in close cooperation with the business community in the respective industrial ecosystems;
  • Solutions for identifying, tracking and recovery of accidental loss of containers and fishing gear;
  • Efficient collection (incl. in ports and coastal areas), sorting, recycling and re-use of waste, waste water treatment and adequate port reception facilities.

Proposed solutions for pollution prevention, elimination and remediation shouldn’t increase the level of anthropogenic underwater noise.

Proposed solutions should be in line with the EU taxonomy regulation and delegated acts.

Proposals must:

  • Carry out demonstration activities in 3 different countries of the Mediterranean sea basin, involving and including in the consortium partners from these three countries;
  • Identify areas and locations where the solutions are replicable and draw up an action plan and roadmap to replicate and scale up the pollution solutions and actions.

To address the impact-driven approach of the Mission and the nature of Innovation Actions, proposals are expected to work with and engage at least 5 ‘associated regions’ to showcase the feasibility, replicability and scale up of the solutions developed within the projects in other areas. ‘Associated regions’ are understood as areas with ecosystems that can benefit from the demonstration activities (e.g. neighbouring regions and/or regions in a different sea basin) and/or less-developed regions, with the need to build capacity to implement the innovative solutions to to prevent, eliminate and remediate pollution to prevent, eliminate and remediate pollution in the associated regions addressing possible barriers and showing the feasibility of implementing innovative solutions.

The proposals should ensure that the associated regions are located in Member States/Associated countries other than those that are part of the project consortium. An “associated region” must benefit from the Financial Support to Third Parties provided under this topic only once. The partners will proactively reach out to the associated regions to enable them to follow closely the project and its demonstration activities. The projects should continuously share their outcomes and knowledge with those ‘associated regions’ and provide them with technical assistance to build capacity and to implement freshwater ecosystem restoration solutions in their territory that contribute to achieving the Mission objectives. The technical assistance to the ’associated regions’ should include the provision of technical advisory services necessary to the prepare roadmaps, plans and projects to prevent, eliminate and remediate pollution in the associated regions addressing possible barriers and showing the feasibility of implementing innovative solutions.

The maximum amount of Financial Support to Third Parties is EUR 100,000 per ’associated region’ for the entire duration of the action. Proposals should outline the selection process of the third parties to which financial support would be granted based on principles of transparency, objectivity and fairness.

The proposals should build on research and innovation developed in the frame of related projects in the current and previous EU framework programmes, such as Horizon 2020, including the activities funded under the Green Deal 2020 call, LIFE and national and regional programmes in the Mediterranean sea basin as well as the activities of the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership[1], as the sea basin initiative WestMed[2] and the macroregional strategy EUSAIR[3], with thematic networks, as well as with the BlueMed Pilot Action on Healthy Plastic Free Mediterranean Sea[4], the implementation of the Union for the Mediterranean Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Blue Economy as well as projects and actions funded under the PRIMA Partnership[5]. Projects may benefit from the expertise and knowledge of the Joint Research Centre, especially in the areas of large scale monitoring and assessment set-up, technical input on harmonised methodologies and making links with relevant policy frameworks.

The proposals will demonstrate novel methods and social innovation practices resulting in holistic socio-ecological governance and management plans that address the transfer of innovative solutions into the market and economic value/supply chains, by creating commercially viable and investable propositions. The proposals need to build in capacity to reach local/regional and national systems of multi-stakeholders and to enhance their interconnections at basin scale. Multi stakeholder engagements will require active participation from academia to research performing organisations, from citizens to civil society, from young innovators to start-ups, industry, SMEs and other businesses. Activities focused on citizen engagement should also be gender-responsive and include groups at risk of social exclusion to promote a wider uptake of the developed solutions, where relevant.

The projects funded under this topic will address all following issues:

  • build links with other Mission activities and other relevant activities within the lighthouse and its area to maximize synergies, as well as with the European Blue Parks, other Mission lighthouses;
  • build links with the Mission implementation monitoring system that will be part of the Mission Implementation Support Platform and with the Mediterranean sea basin lighthouse support facility and platform, for reporting, monitoring and coordination of all relevant implementation activities in the lighthouse area as well as with the Blue Parks technical support platform;
  • support the Ocean and water knowledge system, in particular by contributing to monitoring, modelling and knowledge creation and data.

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: 

The conditions are described in General Annex B.

The following exceptions apply: In addition to the standard eligibility conditions, the consortium must involve and include partners from at least three countries of the Mediterranean sea basin in which demonstration activities will be taking place. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) may participate as member of the consortium selected for funding.

Further Financing Information: 

The total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 16.00 million.

The Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 8.00 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: 

For more information, please see here.