Cluster 6: Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment

Home Structure Pillars Pillar II – Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness Cluster 6: Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment

Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment will support all the priorities of the Commission for 2019-2024. In particular, they will be key to meeting the objectives of the European Green Deal, while largely contributing to “An economy that works for people” and “A Europe fit for the digital age”.

Research and innovation activities under cluster 6 will contribute to the objectives of the European Green Deal related to the Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, the Farm to Fork strategythe European Climate Pact and initiatives under sustainable industry and eliminating pollution, as well as the long-term vision for rural areas, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The transition to sustainable, low ecological footprint, healthy, and inclusive food systems – from primary production to consumption – that provide safe, nutritious, and affordable food to all will accelerate by enhancing governance, reducing food losses and waste, improving animal, plant and soil health, developing innovative food value chains with fairly distributed benefits, costs and risks between e.g. buyers and various suppliers, shifting to sustainable healthy diets, along with cluster 1 (Health), and nutrition affordable for all. All these changes will be facilitated by digital and data technologies – including the development of digital twins of the Earth systems in collaboration with the Destination Earth initiative of the European Strategy for Data – as well as effective agricultural knowledge and innovation systems. Research and innovation will foster regulatory science in order to proactively address food safety issues from farm to fork, and protect plant health and animal health and welfare.

Areas of intervention

  • environmental observation,
  • biodiversity and natural resources,
  • agriculture, forestry and rural areas,
  • seas, oceans and inland waters,
  • food systems,
  • bio-based innovation systems in the EU’s bioeconomy,
  • circular systems.

Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment will:

  • contribute to restoring degraded ecosystems, reversing the loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem functions, reducing disaster risks, and enhancing climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as the sustainable and circular management of natural resources on land and at sea, including by developing nature-based solutions.
  • put biodiversity back on a path to recovery in all sectors through a better understanding, monitoring, and tackling of its direct and indirect drivers and improvements to European and global policies and conventions.
  • enhance healthy ecosystems and biodiversity including those that are indispensable to sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, and fisheries. Farmers will be empowered to move to sustainable agriculture systems. Fish and seafood production will rely on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
  • help better understand and seize the climate mitigation and adaptation potential of ecosystems and primary production systems including through maintaining and further increasing natural carbon sinks as well as monitoring and environmental observations.
  • support a circular, zero-carbon industry as well as nature-based innovations to provide sustainable and climate-smart agriculture and forestry as well as a circular climate climate-neutral, sustainable bio-based industry that provides bio-based materials and products with a low ecological footprint, preventing and mitigating pollution, including plastic pollution.
  • support, by research and innovation, the transition to a climate-neutral, sustainable, and productive blue economy, including thriving aquaculture, fisheries, and emerging sectors such as marine biotechnology. Innovative nature-based solutions will unlock the potential of the sustainable bioeconomy and replace fossil-based, carbon-intensive, and harmful materials with innovative, climate-neutral, bio-based, non-toxic materials and chemicals. Innovative solutions, a non-toxic and more circular use of resources, and the mainstreaming of circular systems will contribute to achieving zero polluted land, soil, water and air, seas, and oceans, including by taking a multi-stressors approach.
  • contribute to the development and monitoring of innovative governance models enabling sustainability and resilience, through enhanced and shared use of new knowledge, tools, foresight, and environmental observations as well as digital, modeling, and forecasting capabilities. Furthermore, support for transdisciplinary research and innovation will lead to a better understanding of the environmental, socioeconomic, and demographic drivers of change as well as the deployment of digital, social, and community-led innovations that will foster a sustainable, balanced, and inclusive development of rural, coastal, and urban areas.

The relevant expected impact of the cluster are:

  1. Sustainable and circular management and use of natural resources as well as prevention and removal of pollution are mainstreamed, unlocking the potential of the bio-economy, ensuring competitiveness, and guaranteeing healthy soil, air, and fresh and marine water for all, through a better understanding of planetary boundaries and deployment of innovative technologies and other solutions, notably in primary production, forestry and bio-based systems:
      • “Staying healthy in a rapidly changing society”: Synergies on role of nutrition for health (incl. human microbiome, mal- and over-nutrition, safe food), personalized diets (incl. food habits in general and childhood obesity in particular) and the impact of food-related environmental stressors on human health (incl. marketing and consumer habits).
      • “Living and working in a health-promoting environment”: Synergies on human biomonitoring, on healthy ecosystems and human habitats (incl. nature-based solutions for health and well-being), on the sustainable management of clean water, soil, air, and biodiversity; on health impact assessment (e.g. of infrastructure, urban planning, transport, technologies, chemicals and other substances, incl. pollution); and on preventable environmental causes of diseases.
      • “Tackling diseases and reducing disease burden”: Synergies on health security, One Health AMR (one health approach across human, animal/plant, soil/water health), biodiscovery and biotechnology, personalised diets to reducing the burden of diseases.
      • Fighting crime and terrorism: fighting organised environmental crime.
      • Improved disaster resilience through restoring ecosystem services.
      • Use of biomass for producing bioenergy.
      • Circularity for improving overall energy and resources efficiency.
  1. Food and nutrition security for all within planetary boundaries is ensured through knowledge, innovations, and digitalisation in agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, and food systems, which are sustainable, resilient, inclusive, safe, and healthy from farm to fork.
  2. Rural, coastal, and urban areas are developed in a sustainable, balanced, and inclusive manner thanks to a better understanding of the environmental, behavioral, socio-economic, and demographic drivers of change as well as the deployment of digital, social, and community-led innovations.
  3. Innovative governance models enabling sustainability and resilience are established and monitored through enhanced and shared use of new knowledge, tools, foresight, and environmental observations as well as digital, modelling and forecasting capabilities.
      • Ocean/Earth observation systems for disaster risk management.
  1. Systemic approach to circular economy:
      • Activities in low-carbon and clean industries;
      • Circular industries and circularity by design;
      • Raw materials;
      • Advanced materials;
      • Key Digital;
      • Components;
      • Data;
      • AI & robotics.
  1. Climate neutrality is achieved by reducing GHG emissions, maintaining natural carbon sinks, and enhancing the sequestration and storage of carbon in ecosystems, including by unfolding the potential of nature based solutions, production systems on land and at sea as well as rural and coastal areas, where adaptations to climate change are also being fostered for enhancing resilience:
      • Climate science can provide important knowledge for the role and capacity of ecosystems as carbon sinks as well as on impacts of climate change on biodiversity, ecosystem and their services.
      • Development of offshore renewable energy in full compliance with the “do not harm” principal to the marine environment.

More about the expected impacts of this cluster are contained in the  Horizon Europe strategic plan