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European Research Executive Agency
News article16 June 2021

The EU invests over €310 million in research to support sustainability in agriculture, forestry, marine and bio-based sectors

The European Commission has selected 44 projects to address global challenges such as food security and climate change mitigation.

The new projects will receive over €310 million EU funding from Horizon 2020, the European Unions’ €80 billion research and innovation programme from 2014 to 2020.

Averaging €7 millions of investment, the projects will develop innovative solutions to increase animal welfare and promote biodiversity rich agriculture as well as healthy and safe food.

In addition, they will ensure the sustainable management of soils and marine ecosystems and the development of microbiome applications.

Finally, the projects will boost the digital revolution and new value chains in rural economies.

Supporting EU’s mission and policy priorities

The funded projects are selected to support some of the EU’s missions and policy priorities. Just to name few, projects like BRIDGE-BS and DOORS intend to boost the sustainable, healthy, resilient and productive blue growth in the Black Sea. The projects are expected to provide new knowledge to assess and mitigate the impacts of climate change and the multiple natural and human-induced stressors in the Black Sea. See all the selected projects funded under the Blue Growth call

Other projects such as MINAGRIS, SOILGUARD and PAPILLONS will work to support the EU’s mission to restore and protect soil with the aim to ensure healthy food. In this case, the consortia are expected to address emerging challenges for soil management such as the impact of stressors on soil biodiversity and ecosystems, and the impact of the use of plastic in agriculture. See all the selected projects funded under the Sustainable Food Security call

The improvement of animal welfare is another EU’s objective and a strong demand from consumers and society in general. Projects like 3D-omics and Holoruminant are expected to contribute to deciphering the characteristics and functions of the livestock microbial ecosystems and understand the ways in which they influence production, health and/or welfare of animals. See all the selected projects funded under the Sustainable Food Security call

Projects like TRADE4SD will analyse and develop robust methods and indicators to assess the impacts of agricultural international trade on the environment and society. Consortia will look particularly to supply chains involved both in import and export for the European Union in relation to its major agricultural trading partners. See all the selected projects funded under the Rural Renaissance call 

Projects as INTAQT will assess the intrinsic quality of livestock products stemming from different production systems. Code Re-farm and PATHWAYS will work on the sustainability and potential delivery of ecosystem services, social services, resilience, competitiveness and possible trade-offs of diverse EU livestock production systems for human food. See all the selected projects funded under the Food and Natural Resources call

The successful project consortia include the involvement of various actors, from private and public research institutions, industry and SMEs, farming, forestry, fisheries, and other civil society organisations. Nearly 90% of the applicants are from EU countries. The top countries receiving funding are Spain, France, Germany and Italy.

When do the research projects start?

The European Research Executive Agency (REA) has finalised the preparation and signature of grant agreements with beneficiaries. Most of the consortia will start their work in June, with few starting later this year.

REA will manage all the selected projects, in collaboration with the European Commission’s Directorates General for Research and Innovation, and for Agriculture and Rural Development regarding the policy-related aspects.

How were the projects selected?

All projects were selected via the four competitive Societal Challenge 2 calls for proposals launched in October 2019:

  • Sustainable Food Security 
  • Food and Natural Resources 
  • Rural Renaissance 
  • Blue Growth

The call for proposals was composed of two stages. 396 project proposals were received by the first call deadline (22 January 2020). 117 projects proposals were retained and invited to submit a full and final proposal by the second-stage call deadline (8 September 2020).

The selected projects received the highest marks in a peer evaluation run by independent experts.

About Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2

Societal Challenge 2 (SC2) - Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy - aims to lead the transition towards an optimal and renewable use of biological resources, and towards sustainable primary production and processing systems. SC2 projects are managed by the REA. 

Number of funded projects and budget assigned per call:

CallNumber of projectsBudget*
Blue Growth (BG)4€  33.9 million
Rural Renaissance (RUR)5€  24 million
Sustainable Food Security (SFS)18€  141 million
Food and Natural Resources (FNR)17€  113.9 million

*Round figures


Publication date
16 June 2021