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TOPIC : New governance, business, financing models and economic impact assessment tools for sustainable cities with nature-based solutions (urban re-naturing)

Topic identifier: SCC-03-2016
Publication date: 14 October 2015

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
10 November 2015
Deadline: 08 March 2016 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2016-2017
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Re-naturing cities can provide solutions to the multitude of challenges that cities are facing because nature-based solutions have proven to be multi-purpose and multi-beneficial. To enable the systemic integration of these solutions into a sustainable urban planning, new governance, business, financing models and partnerships are needed allowing for their co-designing, co-development and co-implementation by all stakeholders and societal actors, and leveraging of investments and synergies between private and public action.


Actions should:

  • map and analyse existing experiences and practices and recommend innovative business models, financing mechanisms (e.g. crowd funding) and governance arrangements to develop socially acceptable urban 're-naturing' planning through participatory, multi-stakeholder and trans-disciplinary way, involving also local communities, empowering citizens and allowing for an equitable distribution of costs and benefits (including co-benefits) at different scales and trade-offs resolution models, new forms of partnerships (e.g. public-private) and strategies for mobilising new investments and creating new business opportunities;
  • develop and validate analytical frameworks and methodologies, tools, protocols, standards, indicators and matrixes to: characterize nature-based solutions; assess their cost-effectiveness (accounting for both benefits, co-benefits and possible negative impacts) as compared to alternative combinations of green/grey/hybrid solutions; identify their limits under different conditions and assess confidence intervals, performance thresholds and corresponding uncertainties;
  • develop and validate decision-support tools, models, management strategies, guidelines and recommendations to assist the urban re-naturing design process and enable the systemic integration of these solutions into a sustainable urban planning, replicability and scalability;
  • identify cultural, social, economic, institutional, legal, regulatory and administrative barriers, incentives/disincentives fostering/discouraging the implementation of nature-based solutions and bottlenecks at city, regional, national and EU level, including aspects such as citizens' perceptions, consumer behaviour and willingness to pay to conserve/enhance urban green space, for re-naturing cities to enhance their economic, social, cultural and environmental resilience, and recommend ways to overcome them.

Proposals shall address all of the above points.

The role of social innovation, and the participation of social sciences and humanities, is particularly important to properly address the complex challenges of this topic. Resources should be envisaged for clustering the projects financed under the Nature-based solutions for territorial resilience” part of the call for Societal Challenge 5 ' Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials', namely topics SC5-08-2016-2017, SC5-09-2016, and SC5-10-2016, to optimise collaboration, synergies, interactions and mutual support to the achievement of their corresponding objectives and – if possible – under other parts of Horizon 2020.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of around EUR 7.5 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:

Projects are expected to contribute to:

  • develop enhanced strategies, new institutional and governance arrangements and new finance and business models, fostering multi-stakeholder involvement, citizens' engagement and empowerment, leveraging both public and private funding of nature-based solutions in cities;
  • kick-start of a collective learning process to foster creative and visionary urban design in re-naturing cities, securing an equitable distribution of the multiple benefits that city re-naturing entails to various stakeholders and citizens at different scales;
  • develop an integrated evidence base and a European reference framework on nature-based solutions, in order to create a global market; new business opportunities, growth and jobs, and a green economy;
  • optimise the policy and regulatory and administrative frameworks;
  • shift in public and private investments from conventional to nature-based or effective combinations of nature/grey/hybrid solutions to urban challenges.
Cross-cutting Priorities:

Socio-economic science and humanities

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that 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 (follow the links to China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).

  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme. For the topic SCC-02-2016-2017, this additional eligibility condition applies: Each project shall involve at least 2 "front-runner" cities and 3 "follower" cities from different Member States and/or Associated Countries.
    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

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

    Information on the outcome of two-stage evaluation:
          For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
          For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Research and Innovation Action:

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Standard proposal template
    Standard evaluation form
    H2020 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.

    Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.


  1. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. 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.

     This topic participates per default  in the open access to research data pilot which aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects:
    •    The pilot applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available for open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan (to be provided within six months after the project start).
    •    Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they are part of the Pilot, and will not be penalised for opting out of the Pilot.
    •    Projects can at any stage opt-out of the pilot.

    The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.
    Further information on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available in the H2020 Online Manual.

  2. Additional documents
  1. More information on the EU-China Co-funding Mechanism
    MOST call (Chinese original) | MOST call (English translation)
    Horizon 2020 topics targeting China
    Q&A on EU-China Co-funding Mechanisms
    EU-China Research and Innovation Cooperation
  2. More information on support available for participation in Horizon 2020 from other international partners of the EU
    Republic of Korea
    Hong Kong

Please note that the topic SCC-02-2016-2017 will open again on 08/11/2016 with the deadline of 07/03/2017, subject to the final decision on 2017 budget appropriations.


Additional documents

  • Flash Call Info SCC_2016_1Stage.pdf

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