Environmental Research and Innovation’s response to the Europe 2020 Strategy, which identifies smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as a means to help the EU and the Member States, develops a resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy while delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The focus of the EU Research and Innovation programme in environment is challenge-driven, funding the whole research and innovation cycle.
Environmental research and innovation finds its centre of gravity in Horizon 2020's: "Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials", which has the objective of achieving a resource efficient and climate change resilient economy and society, protecting and sustainably managing natural resources and ecosystems and ensuring 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.
Helping to build a green economy, a circular economy in sync with the natural environment, is part of the answer. Activities in the first work programme will therefore focus on moving towards a "green" society and economy. They will 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 challenges, and support innovators and businesses to bring green solutions to the market. For the first two years of implementation, waste as a resource and water innovation 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.
In addition, as a horizontal approach fully integrated in all Horizon 2020 priorities, activities are encouraged and supported to exploit Europe's leadership in the race to develop new processes and technologies promoting sustainable development, in a broad sense, and combating climate change. Such an approach will help the EU to prosper in a low-carbon, resource constrained world while building a resource efficient, sustainable and competitive economy.
As a result it is expected that at least 60% of the overall Horizon 2020 budget should be related to sustainable development and that climate-related expenditure should exceed 35% of the budget, including mutually compatible measures improving resource efficiency.