Horizon Europe (2021 - 2027)

European natural lakes: demonstration of integrated approaches for protection and restoration of natural lake ecosystems and their biodiversity

Last update: May 28, 2024 Last update: May 28, 2024


Location:EU 27EU 27
Contracting Authority Type:Development Institution
Budget: EUR 12,000,000
Award ceiling: N/A
Award floor: N/A
Sector:Environment & NRM, Pollution & Waste Management (incl. treatment), Fisheries & Aquaculture
Eligible applicants:Unrestricted / Unspecified
Eligible nationalities:Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, A ... See more Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dem. Rep. Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Commonwealth of, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Eswatini (Swaziland), Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, French Southern Territory, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine / West Bank & Gaza, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Date posted: Jan 9, 2023

Attachments 2


Call Updates

Sep 21, 2023 5:36:37 PM

Call HORIZON-MISS-2023-OCEAN-01 has closed on the 20 September 2023.

76 proposals have been submitted.

The breakdown per topic is:

HORIZON-MISS-2023-OCEAN-01-04: 7 proposals

Evaluation results are expected to be communicated in December 2023.


Feb 6, 2023 10:47:32 AM

The submission session is now available for: HORIZON-MISS-2023-OCEAN-01-04(HORIZON-IA)

European natural lakes: demonstration of integrated approaches for protection and restoration of natural lake ecosystems and their biodiversity


Programme: Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)
Call: Actions for the implementation of the Mission Restore our ocean and waters by 2030 (HORIZON-MISS-2023-OCEAN-01)
Type of action: HORIZON-IA HORIZON Innovation Actions
Type of MGA: HORIZON Action Grant Budget-Based [HORIZON-AG]
Deadline model: single-stage
Planned opening date: 17 January 2023
Deadline date: 20 September 2023 17:00:00 Brussels time

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

Enhance the implementation of the European Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan, the EU Bioeconomy Strategy and the Water Framework Directive as well as other EU instruments and policies that concern freshwater ecosystems;
Improved ecological and chemical status of European natural lakes;
Demonstrated integrated and replicable approaches to protection and restoration of natural lake ecosystems, their biodiversity and healthy functioning, integrating all aspects of good ecological and chemical status of lakes under the Water Framework Directive;
Demonstrated effective and replicable nature based solutions for restoration and protection of European lakes;
Demonstrate improved solutions and systems for effective collaboration between, municipalities, regions and, if relevant, countries within a lake catchment area;
Create opportunities for scaling up of solutions for protection and restoration of European lakes through involvement of ‘associated regions’.
Natural lakes are understood for the purposes of this Work Programme as natural inland bodies of standing surface freshwater or brackish water. There are more than 500 000 natural lakes larger than 1ha in Europe[1]. There were over 2 800 lakes in the EU with bad or poor ecological status and over 8 000 lakes with moderate ecological status in 2018[2]. The main pressures affecting the ecological status of European lakes are hydro-morphological pressures, pollution, in particular from chemicals and nutrient enrichment, water abstraction and climate change impacts. Nutrient enrichment results in algal blooms influencing the ecological status of these waters as well as their use for drinking and recreation.

Proposals under this topic are expected to show how their activities and results will achieve the Mission objective 1 - Protect and restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity, 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’.

The proposals should design and demonstrate integrated and replicable approaches to protect and restore natural lake ecosystems and their biodiversity that result in a significantly improved ecological and chemical status and maintain it in the long-term. The integrated approaches should cover physical and biochemical elements and address in an integrated way all main pressures on the lake ecosystem, (e.g.: water level regulation, water extraction, agriculture, soil pollution, aquaculture and navigation, main source of pollution, barriers to connectivity, pressures on biodiversity, including invasive alien species). Proposals should also consider threats and risks associated to climate change and pressures on biodiversity.

The demonstration activities should combine measures and solutions to reduce pressures and stressors, to restore and protect the lake ecosystem and its biodiversity, in particular using effective nature-based and circular-biobased solutions in the lakes, along shorelines and across their catchments to reduce use of chemicals and retain nutrients. The demonstration sites should be located on natural lakes with a surface area exceeding 1 km2.

Proposals must:

Carry out demonstration activities in at least 3 different countries, involving and including in the consortium partners from these three countries;
Proposals should also identify areas and locations where the solutions are replicable and draw up an action plan and roadmap to replicate and scale up the solutions and actions for the protection and restoration of natural lakes.
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 3 ‘associated regions’ to showcase the feasibility, replicability and scalability 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. in the context of this topic, regions with another natural lake located in EU Member States and/or Associated countries) and/or less-developed regions, with the need to build capacity to implement the innovative solutions to restore freshwater ecosystems. 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. The involvement of 'associated regions' that have not yet participated in Mission projects is encouraged. 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 natural lake restoration and protection solutions in their territory to contribute to achieve the Mission objectives. The technical assistance to the ’associated regions’ should include advice to the prepare roadmaps, plans and projects to restore and protect natural lakes, to address possible barriers and show the feasibility of implementing innovative solutions.

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, in accordance with part G of the general annexes to this work programme.

The projects should support data and knowledge sharing through and as well benefit from the Ocean and Water Knowledge System to foster cross-regions, pan-European approaches. An European Digital Innovation Hub (EDIH) on Natural lakes – at interregional/transnational level – could be envisaged.

The proposals are expected to integrate actions within basins and across lake catchments that support social and economic transitions towards sustainable, inclusive and long-term management of the restored and protected ecosystems. These should include natural, social, economic and cultural elements and business models for generating revenue from the restored and protected ecosystems. For that purpose, demonstrations should involve local business communities, in particular SMEs, investors and other business stakeholders.

Training, upskilling and communication activities towards stakeholders, including regional and local authorities from the ‘associated regions’ should be included in each proposal. Local actors, including where appropriate, the European Solidarity Corps and Mission Citizen Assemblies, should be involved in ecosystem restoration and protection activities and any actions for social and economic transitions towards sustainable inclusive and long-term management of the restored ecosystems, using activities like citizen science to encourage involvement and stewardship of lakes and their catchments.

The projects funded under this topic should:

build links with other Mission activities and other relevant activities within the Mission lighthouses to maximize synergies, as well as with the European Blue Parks, and other Mission activities;
build links with the Mission implementation monitoring system that will be part of the Mission Implementation Support Platform and with the lighthouse support facilities, for reporting in different basins, 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 biodiversity monitoring, modelling and knowledge creation and data.
Applicants should consider to link with other actions funded under Horizon Europe and set aside resources to engage in cooperation and networking with projects funded under the EU Framework Programme, e. g: the MERCES project[3] that developed ecological tools and protocols for cost-effective marine habitat restoration; the EULAKES project[4]; the Espon project[5], Horizon Europe Nord-Balt-Ecosafe, H2020 MERLIN[6] as well as ECOSTAT[7] and EuropaBON[8] activities. Applicants should benefit from EU space programmes (e.g. Copernicus land and climate change monitoring services addressing hydrology). Additionally, projects should collaborate with projects funded under the topic HORIZON-INFRA-2022-EOSC-01-03 to adopt best practices regarding FAIR and open data sharing.

Proposals are expected to show how their activities and results will support the European Green Deal and how they 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’.

Specific Topic Conditions:
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 5-7 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.

[1] EEA: Lakes — European Environment Agency (europa.eu)

[2] (EEA, 2018 data) Ecological status of surface water bodies — European Environment Agency (europa.eu)

[3] http://www.merces-project.eu/

[4] https://keep.eu/projects/5508/European-Lakes-Under-Environ-EN/

[5] https://www.espon.eu/large-lake-regions-hotspots-innovative-governance-europe

[6] https://project-merlin.eu/

[7] https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/IST-2000-26189

[8] https://europabon.org/

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