Social challenges

Grants for Collaborative Projects, including Research, innovation close to market, Coordination and Support Actions, and other new schemes (i.e. prizes, innovative public procurement, etc…) oriented to Political Priorities and Challenges of the Europe 2020 Strategy.
Topic / Target >SC5-4-2015 Improving the air quality and reducing the carbon footprint of European cities


Specific challenge:
The majority of the European population lives in urban environments where citizens are frequently exposed to levels of air pollutants exceeding the limit values established by the European directives.

The sources of pollution in cities are mainly linked to urban activities such as transport and heating. Other activities such as energy production, industrial activity, agriculture and trans-boundary pollution play an important role. Air pollution and climate change are strongly connected and there is therefore a need to consider both environmental and climate considerations when designing emission abatement strategies. Integrated approaches are needed to find long-term, sustainable solutions in the EU.

Development of technological options and strategies to fight against air pollution in urban environments and climate change ensuring the involvement of the main pollution-generation sectors. Proposals should include the development and application of tools in support of integrated air quality and climate change governance in EU Member States, with the aim of designing and implementing adequate abatement strategies and practices. The specific circumstances of the different regions and cities of Europe and the complex systems dynamics of societal and technological changes required for a transition to air pollution free/low carbon society should be taken into account.

Proposals should foster the integration of advanced tools for the assessment, monitoring, modelling – including source apportionment – with innovative technological options and strategies to improve air quality and reduce the carbon footprint of urban areas. Furthermore, awareness-raising actions and policy support activities should be included. Proposals should include the participation of SMEs, as far as possible.

Expected impact:
Reduction of the negative effects on health and climate together with the costs associated with air pollution in the EU. Increase compliance with the EU air quality legislation. Support to EU air policy at EU and Member State level. Rapid market deployment of technological and non-technological innovative solutions. Contribution to the goals of the Smart Cities and Communities focus area. Societal transformation to a green and low carbon economy. Improved air quality in EU cities in the medium- to long-term.


Start date: 10/12/2014
End date: 21/04/2015
Total budget
for this call: 50,000,000
Requested EU contribution per project: Between € 6 and 8 million
(R&IA) H2020-SC5-2015-two-stage Research & innovation actions

Fighting and adapting to climate change

Growing a Low Carbon, Resource Efficient Economy with a Sustainable Supply of Raw Materials

This call forms part of an overall focus on investing in innovation for a green economy. The multi-disciplinary research and innovation required to effectively tackle this challenge in a sustainable way entails pooling complementary knowledge and resources, including the active involvement of socio-economic disciplines. The dissemination and uptake of research and innovation results by policy-makers, businesses and society at large is encouraged to empower actors at all levels of society to actively participate in this process.

Actions under this call aim to support businesses in developing and bringing to the market eco-innovative solutions and to encourage their take-up by public authorities in their procurement practices.

They will also help move towards a new era of climate information systems and services, which can provide accessible, high quality and ultimately useful data for the public sector, business and society.
Actions under this call also aim to improve our understanding of the complex interactions within, across and between ecosystems and the different elements driving changes in the environment, in order to better tackle these challenges and to use the available knowledge e.g. to make ecosystem restoration more effective. Actions will address the need to both usefully harness Earth Observation data and to engage citizens in developing systems for effective transfer of environmental knowledge for the benefit of scientists, policy makers, business and society.

Actions will also focus on sustainable access to and production of raw materials to ensure significant reduction in resource use and a secure and sustainable supply of key raw materials.

Finally, a number of actions under this call aim to bring together and better coordinate research and innovation actions within Europe and beyond, accompanied by timely and open exchange of information and research results, to enhance the impact of research and innovation and ensure a more efficient use of scientific developments for policy, business and citizens.

Given the transnational and global nature of the climate and the environment, their scale and complexity, as well as of the raw materials supply chain, activities are foreseen at both EU level and beyond. In addition to bilateral and regional cooperation, EU level actions will also support relevant international efforts and initiatives.

The innovation actions in this call are expected to offer particular opportunities to SMEs, together with the dedicated SME Instrument topic.

All activities under Societal Challenge 'Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials' should as far as possible use data resulting from or made available through different initiatives of the European Commission. In particular, the utilisation of GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) and Copernicus (the European Earth Observation Programme) data, products and information should be privileged. Likewise, in line with EU cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), activities should use ESA Earth Science data, as far as possible. The data, both from ESA missions or third party missions, are for the vast majority of cases available for free web download (further details for ESA missions and Third Party Missions are available at

The projects funded under Societal Challenge 'Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials', call 'Growing a Low Carbon, Resource Efficient Economy with a Sustainable Supply of Raw Materials', of the Work Programme 2014-15, with the exception of topics SC5-11-2014/2015, SC5-12-2014/2015, and SC5-13/2014/2015, will participate in the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020 in line with the Commission's Open Access to research data policy for facilitating access, re-use and preservation of research data.

Projects have the possibility to opt out of the Pilot. A further new element in Horizon 2020 is the use of Data Management Plans (DMPs), detailing what data the project will generate, whether and how it will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved. The use of a Data Management Plan is required for projects participating in the Open Research Data Pilot. Other projects are invited to submit a Data Management Plan if relevant for their planned research. Further guidance on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available on the Participant Portal. The projects funded under the other topics of this call may participate in the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020 on a voluntary basis.

Beneficiaries in projects participating in the Pilot on Open Research Data shall adhere to the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles and undertake to register in GEOSS all geospatial data, metadata and information generated as foreground of the project. Further information on the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles and GEOSS Register can be found here:
Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials

The objective of the Societal Challenge 'Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials' is to achieve a resource – and water – efficient and climate change resilient economy and society, the protection and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems, and a sustainable supply and use of raw materials, in order to meet the needs of a growing global population within the sustainable limits of the planet's natural resources and eco-systems.

The era of seemingly plentiful and cheap resources is coming to an end: raw materials, water, air, biodiversity and terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems are all under pressure. The combined impacts of climate change and current production and consumption patterns are undermining our planetary habitat. Based on current trends, the equivalent of more than two planet Earths will be needed by 2050 to support the growing global population. There needs to be a decoupling of economic growth from resource use.

Helping to build a green economy – a circular economy in sync with the natural environment – is part of the answer. This Work Programme will focus on investing in innovation for a green economy. This will require great progress in social and public sector innovation.

Actions under this Work Programme will therefore address gaps in the knowledge base needed to understand changes in the environment, identify the policies, methods and tools that would most effectively tackle the above mentioned challenges, and support innovators and businesses to bring green solutions to the market. Waste and water have been selected as particular priorities, on the grounds of their substantial potential for business opportunities and job creation while tackling important resource efficiency challenges.

Efforts have been made to encourage SME participation, notably through the SME Instrument and bottom-up approaches, together with innovation actions, where SMEs can follow up research projects with work linked to closer to market activities.

In addition to the calls below, activities relating to climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials are also found in the calls relating to 'Blue growth: unlocking the potential of the oceans', 'Energy-efficiency' and 'Disaster-resilience: safeguarding and securing society, including adapting to climate change'.

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