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TOPIC : Valuing nature: mainstreaming natural capital in policies and in business decision-making

Topic identifier: SC5-18-2018
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: CSA Coordination and support action
Opening date:
07 November 2017
Deadline: 27 February 2018 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Updates
  • 20 February 2018 15:50

     Please find here the published FAQs.

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

A broad range of economic activities are dependent upon natural capital, but natural assets are not unlimited. However, many ecosystem services and benefits to society and business, such as food provision, air and water filtration, disaster risk reduction, pollination, or climate regulation, are not visible because they are not priced on markets and hence not currently accounted for in socio-economic decision-making. Incorporating natural capital – and especially ecosystems – into national accounting systems as well as policy and business practices is needed to promote more resource efficient and sustainable choices, and to support smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Further to the work and progress at international level, important results have been achieved at European level under the initiative on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and Services (MAES)[1], as well as on categorising ecosystem services through the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES). In addition, the KIP-INCA project[2] aims to design and implement an integrated accounting system for ecosystems and their services in the EU. KIP-INCA aims to develop a comprehensive set of European-level natural capital accounts.

In addition, all businesses impact and depend on natural capital to some extent. The Natural Capital Protocol (NCP)[3] has been published as a framework to help generate robust and actionable information for business managers to inform decisions. National and corporate accounting is still in early phases of development and long-term coherence between these two strands of work is needed.


Actions should address only one of the following sub-topics:

a) Valuing nature: developing and implementing natural capital and ecosystem accounts in EU Member States and Associated Countries: Actions should develop and implement natural capital and ecosystem accounts in Member States/Associated Countries, according to the SEEA-EEA recommendations[4] and the methodological work and guidance of KIP-INCA[5].

Actions should further refine and implement in practice European/international guidance standards in European countries, leading to their replicability.

Actions should exploit available large scale data and link them to the EU layer for more detailed analysis, and experiment with different solutions for biophysical accounts and their valuation and monetisation. The natural capital and ecosystem services accounts developed should be published for use by different stakeholders and for different policy and business applications. Actions should promote the inclusion of natural capital and ecosystems services accounting in national statistics.

Actions should involve organisations both from Member States/Associated Countries that are more advanced with natural capital and ecosystem services accounts and from those that are only just starting to deal with such accounts. More experienced participants should primarily share their experience with, provide advice to and mentor less experienced participants, to enable them to rapidly implement and mainstream the methodologies. In addition, more experienced participants may choose to also develop further their own natural capital and ecosystem accounts (for instance, testing new valuation approaches and methods).

Participation and strong commitment from public authorities in charge of natural capital and ecosystem services accounts (for example, Ministries or Environment Agencies), as well as National Statistical Offices or other statistical authorities[6], is strongly encouraged for the success of this action.

Actions should exploit the experience of KIP-INCA partners[7]and the ongoing work of MAES.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of 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.

b) Operationalisation of natural capital accounting in business decisions: Actions should facilitate the implementation of the Natural Capital Protocol at corporate level. They should therefore take stock of the work undertaken by ongoing initiatives, such as European and national platforms on business and biodiversity and the Natural Capital Protocol and should establish a “Valuing Nature Programme and Network”. The network should bring together work being undertaken by business in relation to natural capital and come up with optimal scientifically rigorous solutions for operationalising and mainstreaming natural capital, including nature-based solutions, green infrastructures and biodiversity, in companies' decision making frameworks and business models. It should aim to build a community of practice through an EU network of networks of businesses, administrations and academia, engaging key stakeholders from business, government, the knowledge and research community and civil society in open source collaboration. Together they should shape the business perception of the value of nature as a business opportunity and as a means of reducing economic risks and fostering sustainable businesses. This will also incentivise business investments in nature-based solutions. There is a need to stimulate early adoption, since potential first-movers may be risk-averse. This can be mitigated through life-long learning, training and guidance, and by demonstrating the benefits at corporate level.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 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:

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • mainstreaming natural capital and ecosystem services accounts at appropriate administrative or corporate levels;
  • decision-makers acknowledging the macro-economic and the micro-economic perspective of natural capital;
  • recognition of the value of natural capital and ecosystem services accounts, attracting private and public funding for further adoption;
  • the acknowledgment, operationalising and mainstreaming of, and accounting for, natural capital, including nature-based solutions, and its wider value in public authorities and companies' decision making frameworks and business models.
Delegation Exception Footnote:

This activity initially expected to be wholly implemented by the Commission services is delegated to EASME for the grant agreement preparation and the grant management.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Socio-economic science and humanities
Open Innovation





[5]In particular, the report on Phase 1 of KIP-INCA: For an up-to-date list of KIP-INCA methodological and guidance documents please refer to:


[7]The European Environment Agency (EEA) that has piloted land and water accounts; the JRC and its experience on modelling ecosystem services; FP7 and Horizon 2020 projects, such as OPERAs (, OpenNESS (, ESMERALDA(; SWOS ( or ECOPOTENTIAL (; and DG Environment (DG ENV) on policy orientations, implications and take-up

Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual

2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below. 

3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

Specific evaluation procedure apply to this topic:

Grants will be awarded to proposals according to the ranking list. However, in order to ensure a balanced portfolio of supported actions, at least the highest-ranked proposal per (sub-)topic will be funded provided that it attains all thresholds.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Coordination and Support Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Proposal templates are available after entering the submission link below.
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
12. Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement

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No submission system is open for this topic.

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