Socio-economic, climate and environmental aspects of paludiculture



Expected Outcome

This topic will support the European Green Deal, notably its climate objectives and the EU proposal for a nature restoration law[1] of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030. Earth’s natural terrestrial carbon sinks, in particular peatlands and wetlands, are expected to play a crucial role in reaching EU climate objectives thanks to the conservation and restoration of ecosystems with large potential for carbon sequestration. To reach climate goals, rewetting of 500 000 hectares will be necessary in Europe. By looking into the potential of such areas when used for paludiculture, the topic will contribute to the following impact of the Destination: “Efficient monitoring, assessment, modelling, data-driven decision-making support systems and projections related to climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation potential in order to derive solutions for tackling emerging threats and support decision-making in climate change mitigation and adaptation policies at European and global levels, including the use of AI and other digital solutions.”

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

  • Paludiculture systems and their potential to provide jobs and income, while addressing climate mitigation, environmental objectives (notably water quality) and nature conservation, are better understood;
  • The EU approach to carbon farming regarding wetlands and peatlands and their restoration, with the aim of reducing oxidation of the existing carbon stock and increasing the potential for carbon sequestration, is supported[2];
  • Innovative solutions to facilitate the development of paludiculture are explored.


Proposals should:

  • Take stock of the main socio-economic variables relevant for the paludiculture sector, including options for marketing of its products, and carry out socio-economic analyses, including projections and foresight;
  • Estimate the potential for degraded peatlands and wetlands, currently used for conventional agriculture or forestry (with drainage), to be converted to paludiculture;
  • Establish an observatory and databases for analytical purposes, covering the whole supply chain;
  • Analyse positive and negative incentives and trade-offs, including with regard to carbon farming, in particular those that relate to the policy environment and to the attitudes and values of farmers and other actors;
  • Explore solutions to lift possible lock-ins and speed up the development of paludiculture including with social innovation;
  • Support the establishment of a network of researchers and practitioners involved in paludiculture at European and global level;
  • Include a dedicated task, appropriate resources and a plan on how the project(s) will collaborate with project(s) supported through topic “HORIZON-CL6-2024-CLIMATE-01-3: Paludiculture: large-scale demonstrations”.

Proposals under this topic should build on the results of the project(s) funded under the topic “HORIZON-CL5-2021-D1-01-08: Restoration of natural wetlands, peatlands and floodplains as a strategy for fast mitigation benefits; pathways, trade-offs and co-benefit”. They should also build links with relevant projects funded under Mission ‘Restore our ocean and waters by 2030’ Horizon Europe Work Programme, in particular topics HORIZON-MISS-OCEAN-2022-01-02 “Danube river basin lighthouse: Protection and restoration of wetlands, flood plains, coastal wetlands and salt marshes and their biodiversity”, and under HORIZON-MISS-OCEAN-2021-02-04 “Danube river basin lighthouse – coordination activities” as well as with the Mission implementation monitoring system that will be part of the Mission Implementation Support Platform for reporting, monitoring and coordination of all relevant implementation activities.

This topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines.

[1]Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on nature restoration, COM(2022) 304 final, 22.06.2022

[2]The approach is described in the Communication on “Sustainable Carbon Cycles”, COM(2021) 800, 15.12.2021,

Show less

Topic destination

Land, ocean and water for climate action (2023/24)

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increasing carbon sinks in primary production and natural systems as well as in harvested wood products and other carbon storage products are key components of the European Green Deal[[]]. Achieving sustainable ocean, water and land management, and using natural resources efficiently to help mitigate climate change implies finding the right balance between productivity, climate, biodiversity and environmental goals in the agriculture and forestry sectors, with a long-term perspective. R&I activities will support solutions for climate and environmentally friendly practices to reduce emissions of major greenhouse gases, other pollutants and the environmental impact of ocean and land use changes and agricultural activities. R&I will rely on the application of digital technologies where relevant.

The EU climate law[[]] states that to reach 2030 and 2050 climate targets and to restore biodiversity, the EU needs to immediately and decisively restore and increase its natural carbon sinks. In 2021, the Commission proposed to amend Regulation (EU) 2018/841 for land use, forestry, and agriculture[[]] by setting an increased EU target for net removals of 310 MtCO2eq by 2030 and allocating targets for each Member State. The proposal also includes the aim to reach climate-neutrality in the entire land sector by 2035, namely that carbon removals should balance the greenhouse gas emissions from land use, livestock and fertiliser use. At the end of 2021, the Commission published a communication on sustainable carbon cycles, including carbon farming and certification of carbon removals[[]]. R&I, new technologies and business models are expected to unlock the full potential of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities in the mitigation of climate change.

Carbon farming will be implemented in line with the communication on sustainable carbon cycles and related documentation. R&I activities under this destination, and in the work programme of the mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ will help coordinate the research community and key stakeholders in developing, testing and demonstrating carbon farming practices and in certifying carbon removals. Results of funded activities will help in managing land and forests and in delivering of multiple services provided by agricultural land and forests, such as: i) the provision of goods and long-term carbon storage in harvested wood products, ii) protection of soils, water and biodiversity; and iii) mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.

Specific attention will be given to paludiculture, complementing the activities of Cluster 5 in the 2021/2022 work programme. R&I activities will help increase soil organic carbon, protect carbon-rich soils (e.g. grasslands and peatlands), restore peatlands and wetlands, and improve advisory services for land managers. Together with the work programme for the mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’, R&I activities will aim to reduce the financial burden resulting from the costs of management practices in carbon farming and the uncertainty about revenue possibilities. In the livestock sector, R&I on manure management will help implement the EU methane strategy[[]]. R&I activities will also boost the contribution made by a forest as a natural and man-made carbon sink and maintain multiple ecosystem services (e.g., water replenishment, soil protection), as proposed in the Fit for 55 package with the revised LULUCF Regulation and the new EU forest strategy.

Strengthening the nexus between the ocean and climate change is a priority for the EU. There is growing political awareness of the importance of ocean and polar regions as integral parts of the Earth’s climate system and of the need to ensure the integrity and resilience of these vulnerable ecosystems in the context of climate change. The main outcomes expected are an improved understanding of the ocean’s role in the Earth’s climate system, resulting in the closing of the research gaps on ocean essential climate variables and improved ocean models for seasonal to decadal forecasting at local and regional scales. This in turn will support decision-making aimed at preserving the integrity of the ocean and aquatic ecosystems and the polar Regions, through a better understanding of the drivers of change and of emerging threats, including tipping points. The ocean is also a large storage system for the global reservoirs of climate-regulating factors, particularly carbon. R&I will advance knowledge innovations to develop ocean-based solutions/mitigation options, helping to close the emissions gap and stop ocean acidification and prevent the consequent biodiversity losses.

The following blue carbon ecosystem developments could be envisaged:

  • more knowledge about identifying regions at risk;
  • exploring, preserving, restoring or even creating new natural habitats, and providing solutions to strengthen resilience and protection of EU coastal areas against climate change;
  • more knowledge and data on blue carbon quantification;
  • consider nature-based solutions for carbon farming, e.g. on coastal wetlands, as well as seaweed and mollusc aquaculture.

Biodiversity protection plays an important role in all approaches for mitigation in ecosystems and Nature-based Solutions (NBS)are highly important in this context, providing further environmental, social and economic benefits. Building on the political momentum gained at COP25 where the ocean was identified as a priority, and on the latest developments at COP26, science on the climate and the ocean nexus developed under the Horizon Europe programme will contribute to and inform the dialogue under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the ocean and climate change.

Other major contributions include: i) providing new scientific knowledge on polar regions for the EU Arctic policy; ii) supporting the new policy initiative on sustainable blue economy and its offshoot initiatives as well as implementing the Marine Strategy and Water Framework Directives; and iii) helping to achieve the clean planet for all’s aim of neutralising all major threats to the health of the planetary ecosystem.

In line with the climate adaptation strategy[[]], climate action also calls for ecosystems, primary production, food systems and the bioeconomy to adapt to climate change. Climate change is exacerbating existing risks to livelihoods, biodiversity, human and ecosystem health, infrastructure and food systems. Human activities relying on the availability and use of clean water are particularly affected by variable and extreme weather events, which may also lead to desertification. Agriculture and forestry in the EU are vulnerable to climate change. Specifically, there is growing evidence about the effects of climate change and extreme weather events, which need to be mitigated, on agricultural production, crop yields, and also on the forest sector.

In the area of forestry, R&I will improve knowledge on the interactions and interdependencies between biodiversity and climate change, and identify win-win management strategies, also addressing trade-offs in a sustainable manner. Marine and coastal areas are also threatened by the rise in sea level, saline water intrusion, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, extreme events and a shrinking cryosphere. R&I will, therefore, be critical to stepping up adaptation and building resilience in agriculture, forestry, and activities in marine and coastal areas. They will aim to deliver on the urgent need to step up the adaptation of primary production, notably by providing farmers and other actors in bioeconomy value chains with better-adapted crop varieties and animal breeds with lower impacts on the related ecosystems.

R&I efforts are critical to avoiding, reducing and reversing desertification. They are also critical to delivering sustainable nature-based solutions that will also i) increase carbon sequestration, natural water retention, biodiversity conservation and restoration, ii) strengthen coastal protection, iii) reduce the risks of algal blooms and iv) offer ecotourism opportunities. Water adaptation strategies and approaches will be developed and tested. In this context, the innovation potential for a wide range of alternative water solutions (rainwater harvesting, storm water collection, water reuse and reclamation, brackish and sea water desalination, aquifer recharge, etc.) to be used for avoiding possible negative environmental impacts will be assessed and the European partnership for ensuring water security for the planet will be further supported. Potential trade-offs, and measures to mitigate and avoid them, will be assessed to ensure environmental sustainability and to keep the objectives of improving soil fertility, increasing carbon storage in soils and biomass to support benefitting agricultural productivity and food security and reduce biodiversity loss. R&I will also aim at providing a better understanding of how institutions and behaviour shape vulnerability and offer opportunities for adaptation.

Expected outcomes include, by means of international cooperation, collaborative research on joint adaptation, mitigation and biodiversity reporting and monitoring of land contributing to the overall areas targeted in Cluster 6[[ This refers in particular to potential EU-China cooperation under the Climate Change and Biodiversity (CCB) Flagship.]].

Expected impacts

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out credible pathways that contribute to climate action on land - including forestland, grassland, cropland and wetland - as well as on oceans and water and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • better understanding and strengthening of the mitigation potential of ecosystems and sectors based on the sustainable management of natural resources;
  • advancement of science and technology to support the adaptation and resilience of natural and managed ecosystems, on land, in the ocean, in water and soil systems as well as economic sectors in the context of the changing climate, including interaction with drivers of biodiversity change and zero pollution;
  • efficient monitoring, assessment, modelling and data-driven decision-making support systems and projections related to climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation potential in order to derive solutions for tackling existing and emerging threats and support decision-making in climate change mitigation and adaptation policies at European and global levels, including through the use of AI and other digital solutions;
  • increased climate change mitigation in the primary sectors, including by means of reducing their GHG emissions and other pollutants, maintaining natural and man-made carbon sinks and increasing uptake and storage of carbon in ecosystems, taking into account trade-offs with regard to ecosystems;
  • improved capacity to climate change of the ocean, sea, water and soil systems and related sectors to adapt to climate change, including by means of unlocking the potential of nature-based solutions;
  • sustainable management of scarce resources, in particular soils and water, therefore mitigating climate related risks, especially desertification and erosion, thanks to informed decision-makers and stakeholders and the integration of adaptation measures in relevant EU policies.


Application date
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, Digital humanities and big data
Social sciences : Law, Economy, Geography, Political science, Environmental Sciences, Sociology
Citizen Sciences
Other : Biology, Chemistry, Computer science, Physics, mathematics and engineering