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Sustainable Food Security

27 October 2017


Call summary

The Sustainable Food Security call is Horizon 2020's main contribution to research and innovation in relation to Food and Nutrition Security in Europe and beyond. Its commitment to sustainability implies that particular attention is given to the interfaces between the economic, environmental and social dimensions of food production. The call advocates for food system approaches to tackle the inherent links between ecosystems, food production, the food chain and consumer health and wellbeing.

The SFS call aims to

  • deliver diverse and healthy food from land and sea.
  • increase resource efficiency and environmental performance of food systems from primary production to consumers.
  • understand the impact of climate change on agriculture, resources, food quality and identify options to manage its effects.
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions and emissions of air pollutants from land use and food production taking into account main drivers such as inputs and consumption patterns.

Collectively, the results of funded activities will contribute to creating the conditions for dynamic and innovative farming[[Depending on the topic "farming" will refer to terrestrial and/or aquatic primary production]] and food sectors that manage to turn high quality products and high environmental standards into a competitive advantage. They will help to ensure food production under future, increasingly uncertain environmental conditions and move towards resource-smart, climate-smart and "eco-healthy" production and consumption.

Activities supported under the SFS call complement topics under the Blue Growth dealing with food and nutrition security from aquatic sources. They will contribute in particular to the Focus Area on "Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future" and to a minor extent to Focus Areas "Digitising and transforming European industry and services" and the "Circular Economy".

The actions are expected to support Europe's endeavours to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 2 'Zero hunger', SDG 11 'Sustainable cities and communities', SDG 12 'Responsible consumption and production', SDG 13 'Climate action' and SDG 15 'Life on land'.

This call is expected to continue in 2020.

From functional ecosystems to healthy food

The following paragraph is relevant for the entire 'From functional ecosystems to healthy food' section of the Work Programme, i.e. topics SFS-01-2018-2019-2020 to SFS-18-2020 inclusive.

Activities aim to tap into the potential of ecosystems services for crop and animal (Depending on the topic the term "animals" can refer to aquatic or terrestrial animals) production, notably in relation to pest and disease control, nutrient cycling, soil fertility and productivity. They emphasise the relationship between modes of food production, ecosystem functions, food quality and consumer health. The importance of diversity and diversification in increasing the resilience of food systems is an underlying theme. It includes promoting a better use of plant, animal genetic and microbial genetic resources. A cluster of targeted microbiome activities will help to better understand how existing biodiversity can support processes across soils, plants, animals, the marine environment and humans. These will be referenced and linked to microbiome research under other parts of Horizon 2020.

Environment and climate-smart food production and consumption

The following paragraph is relevant for the entire 'Environment and climate-smart food production and consumption' section of the Work Programme, i.e. topics LC-SFS-19-2018-2019 to CE-SFS-25-2018 inclusive.

Proposed activities open avenues to progress on low greenhouse gas emission agriculture, fisheries and food industries. They will support the development of strategies and tools to better cope with more variable and extreme weather events, changing environmental conditions and new emerging threats. A number of topics target the mitigation capacity of the primary production sector and the synergies and trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation measures. Activities also tackle the stewardship and use of natural resources on land and sea and other inputs throughout food production. They aim at optimising resource use and reducing environmental footprints throughout primary production, food industries, food distribution, food service and households.

Building capacities

The following paragraph is relevant for the entire 'Building capacities' section of the Work Programme, i.e. topics DT-SFS-26-2019 to SFS-31-2019 inclusive.

A defined set of activities addresses more fundamental research needs as well as the harmonisation and rationalisation of data, methods or infrastructures. Activities will help to test new approaches and develop new models for business creation and societal engagement. The delivery of knowledge and resources will support downstream translational research and innovations.

Targeted international cooperation

The following paragraphs are relevant for the entire 'Targeted international cooperation' section of the Work Programme, i.e. topics SFS-32-2018 to SFS-40-2020 inclusive.

FNSSA Africa:

In 2016 the EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue on science, technology and innovation (HLPD) has adopted the roadmap (Roadmap towards a jointly funded EU-Africa Research & Innovation Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture. Addis Ababa, 4-5 April 2016) for the EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security & Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA). In support of the implementation of the R&I Partnership on FNSSA and in line with the ‘Joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council for a renewed impetus to the Africa-EU Partnership’[[JOIN (2017) 17]], a number of actions are proposed. The actions include: for the overall support to the implementation of the EU-Africa R&I Partnership on a Cooperation and Support Action (SFS-33-2018); for pillar I of the roadmap (Sustainable intensification) a portfolio of projects (SFS-35-2019-2020 and CE-SFS-36-2020); for pillar II (Agriculture and food systems for nutrition) a research and innovation action (LC-SFS-34-2019). Pillar IV of the partnership should be considered as appropriate in each proposal.

Proposals are expected to establish relevant links with other projects funded in support of the EU-Africa R&I Partnership on FNSSA, including those funded by previous Horizon 2020 work programmes and those funded by the EU’s development budget.

For FAB China:

The European Commission and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences signed a letter of intent on research and innovation cooperation in food, agriculture and biotechnology (FAB) in November 2013. They agreed to work towards an ambitious strategic long-term partnership and launched the FAB 'flagship initiative'. Building on this agreement, the EU-China Task Force on FAB has developed specific common priorities that will promote substantial, coordinated and balanced research and innovation cooperation between the EU and China. These priorities are reflected in topics SFS-37-2019 to CE-SFS-39-2019.