Multi-stakeholder dialogue platform to promote innovation with nature to address societal challenges

Specific Challenge

Nature-based solutions have a large – but largely untapped – potential for delivering multiple ecosystem services (such as carbon sequestration and soil water retention and purification) contributing to green growth, climate action and territory resilience. To promote innovating with nature and speed up market up-taking of nature-based solutions for solving societal challenges there is a need to establish science-policy-business-society interfaces to allow for continuous dialogue and interaction. Such interfaces can take the form of multi-level partnerships, which bring together multi-disciplinary scientific expertise, policy, business and society, including NGOs, CSOs, and citizens as appropriate.


The EU multi-stakeholder innovation platform should aim to develop an integrated evidence base and a European reference framework on nature-based solutions and to promote the co-design, testing and deployment of improved and innovative nature-based solutions in an integrated way and at multiple scales and levels (from European to national, regional and local). This can be best achieved through strategic, effective and sustained dialogue, interactions and exchanges between science, policy, business and society to mainstream both the available knowledge into policy making and practice, and the needs of policy makers and practitioners into research and innovation policy and agendas. The platform must take due account of the outcomes of the large-scale demonstration projects to be funded under the 'Nature-based solutions for territorial resilience' part of this call as well as those on sustainable cities through nature-based solutions funded under the 'Smart and Sustainable Cities' call in part 17 of this Work Programme. It should also create synergies with other highly relevant ongoing (such as the Biodiversa ERA-net) or upcoming (such as the EU Mechanism for Biodiversity and Ecosystem services[[Horizon 2020 Work Programme SC5-10c-2015: Coordinating and supporting research and innovation for the management of natural resources: An EU support mechanism for evidence-based policy on biodiversity & ecosystems services.]]) initiatives.

Actions should

  • establish a broad multi-stakeholder (science, policy, business, society, including SMEs, public and private investors) and multi-level (local, regional, national and EU) innovation platform that facilitates the development of committed innovation partnerships for testing and deploying improved and innovative nature-based solutions (think-and-do-tank);
  • steer dialogue to identify specific domains and priorities where further research and innovation is needed for marketable nature-based solutions;
  • identify, communicate (e.g. by developing appropriate handbooks) and promote successful innovative nature-based solutions, including best practices, to foster their large scale deployment;
  • identify potential regulatory, economic and technical barriers and propose concrete ways to overcome them;
  • foster dialogue and collaboration across levels and with key strategic international partners. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with key strategic international partners such as Latin America, countries participating in the Belmont Forum, and South East Asia.

Proposals shall address all of the above points.

In agreement with the Commission services, projects should ensure appropriate flexibility so as to respond in real time to potentially fast-changing policy scenarios.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

Actions are expected to lead to:

  • strategic, effective and sustained multi-stakeholder dialogue between science, policy, business and society, functional within six months of the onset of funding;
  • emergence of a global market for nature-based solutions through:
    • EU-wide evidence and increased awareness among stakeholders, decision and policy makers, practitioners and public about the multiple benefits, cost-effectiveness and economic viability of nature-based solutions to address societal challenges;
    • better use of available knowledge for informed decision making, innovative solutions and more effective deployment;
    • reduced (regulatory, institutional, cultural etc.) barriers;
  • identification of users’ needs, market potential and knowledge gaps to inform a market-oriented EU research and innovation policy agenda for nature-based solutions;
  • improved coordination among EU Member States and Associated and Accession Countries on research, innovation and demonstration activities for nature-based solutions;
  • improved cooperation and synergies with relevant strategic international research and innovation programmes and key strategic international partners such as Latin America, countries participating in the Belmont Forum, and South East Asia in order to create a global market on nature-based solutions.

Delegation Exception Footnote:

This activity directly aimed at supporting the development and implementation of evidence base for R&I policies and supporting various groups of stakeholders is excluded from the delegation to EASME and will be implemented by the Commission services.

Application date
Social sciences
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology