What are missions and mission areas?

EU missions are commitments to solve major societal challenges like fighting cancer, adapting to climate change, protecting our oceans, living in greener cities and ensuring soil health and food.

As integral part of the Horizon Europe framework programme beginning in 2021, they are a new way to deliver on these commitments.

Each mission will operate as a portfolio of actions – such as research projects, policy measures or even legislative initiatives - to achieve a measurable goal that could not be achieved through individual actions. The missions will contribute to the goals of the European Green Deal, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. 

When will missions begin? 

A preparatory phase began in November 2020, and will last a maximum of 12 months.
Plans with detailed actions, investment strategy and performance indicators will be developed during this phase.

At the end of it, missions will be assessed against a set of robust criteria. Once approved, missions will get fully up and running. Europeans will continue to be engaged throughout their implementation.

What this mission area deals with

The importance of healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters

Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters are vital for our societies and the future of our planet. They are the lungs of our planet, producing half of the oxygen we breathe. They are a source of healthy food, contributing 16% of the animal protein we eat.

They are the planet’s largest carbon sink and have absorbed 26% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They are home to the richest biodiversity on our planet.

They are the source of all life on Earth and our planet’s life-support system. They supply freshwater, renewable energy and provide benefits associated with our well-being, cultural values, tourism, trade, and transport.

Aims of missions in this area

A mission will be a powerful tool to raise awareness among citizens of the importance of healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters, and help develop solutions on a range of issues.

These include

  • systemic solutions for the prevention, reduction, mitigation and removal of marine pollution, including plastics
  • transition to a circular and blue economy
  • adaption to and mitigation of pollution and climate change in the ocean
  • sustainable use and management of ocean resources
  • development of new materials including biodegradable plastic substitutes, new feed and food
  • urban, coastal and maritime spatial planning
  • ocean governance
  • ocean economics applied to maritime activities

How specific missions are identified

This mission area has a mission board tasked with identifying one or more specific missions for implementation under Horizon Europe.  The mission board consists of 15 experts, including the chair, and is supported by a mission secretariat and an assembly.  

Possible mission proposed by the mission board

At the end of June 2020, the mission board produced an interim report proposing concrete targets and a timeline for a possible mission.

The interim report was the basis for further discussion and engagement with Europeans to make sure that the proposed mission is relevant and will make a real difference.

The final recommendations of the mission board were handed over to the European Commission at the European Research & Innovation Days 22-24 September 2020.

The proposed mission:

Mission Starfish 2030: Restore our Ocean and Waters
Targets by 2030: cleaning marine and fresh waters, restoring degraded ecosystems and habitats, decarbonising the blue economy in order to sustainably harness the essential goods and services they provide.

More information

Contact

RTD-HORIZON-EUROPE-MISSION-OCEANS@ec.europa.eu

Latest

Timeline

  • End of June 2020

    The Mission Board produces a draft report proposing concrete targets and timelines

  • 22-24 September 2020

    The final recommendations of the Mission Board are handed over to the European Commission at the European Research & Innovation Days

  • November 2020

    The mission enters preparatory phase

  • 1st and 2nd quarter of 2021

    Preparation of mission implementation plans, followed by Commission decision on full implementation phase

  • 3rd and 4th quarter of 2021

    Launch of the missions in full implementation phase; updated Horizon Europe Work Programme for EU missions

Documents

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