Call for proposals for Sustainable Food Security H2020-SFS-2015-2 Closed!


The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) is implemented by specific programme and work programmes.

The “Societal challenges” responds directly to the policy priorities and societal challenges that are identified in the Europe 2020 strategy and that aim to stimulate the critical mass of research and innovation efforts needed to achieve the Union's policy goals.

The specific objective is to fully exploit the potential of Europe's talent pool and to ensure that the benefits of an innovation-led economy are both maximised and widely distributed across the Union in accordance with the principle of excellence.

Funding shall be focused on the following specific objectives:
(a) Health, demographic change and well-being.
(b) Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland water research. and the bioeconomy.
(c) Secure, clean and efficient energy.
(d) Smart, green and integrated transport.
(e) Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials.
(f) Europe in a changing world - Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies.
(g) Secure societies - Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.


Actions foreseen within this call for proposals include the following topics:

  • SFS-02b-2015: Assessing soil-improving cropping systems. European crop production is facing more and more difficulties in remaining competitive in the global market for many reasons. Some of these reasons are the loss of soil fertility and the consequent massive use of expensive external nutrient inputs, notably Nitrogen and Phosphorous, for which European agriculture is almost totally dependent on imported products, or on fertilizers produced with expensive industrial processes, which generates greenhouse gases (GHGs). Therefore, more sustainable crop management strategies are needed to maintain or increase soil fertility. Inappropriate soil and water management and the overuse of external inputs in intensive crop production systems, represent an economic loss for the farmer and a significant burden for the environment and subsequent impact on human health, as they contribute significantly to ground water and surface water pollution, GHGs emissions, the build-up in soil contaminants, such as heavy metals and organic pollutants. Better soil management and optimisation of fertilisers and water are of paramount importance for conciliating the necessary competitiveness and the long-term sustainability of the entire intensive crop production sector in Europe.
  • SFS-05-2015: Strategies for crop productivity, stability and quality. Crop productivity is determined by genetic variability and the complex interactions of the genotype (G) with its environment (E) in the context of specific management interventions (M). Understanding and capturing the dynamic of these above and below ground interactions in breeding programmes and farm management is considered as critical to address concerns over stagnating yields and yield gaps, building resilience to biotic and abiotic threats and further progress in crop improvement.
  • SFS-10b-2015: Scientific basis and tools for preventing and mitigating farmed mollusc diseases. Disease prevention and management are essential for the sustainability of the European aquaculture industry. The diversity of species and farming practices throughout Europe involves also a significant number of threats related to a large variety of pathogens that hamper production and require specific preventive and curative practices and tools ensuring a high level of biosecurity of aquaculture production and related seafood products. Among other disease-related threats, parasites and related infections can cause significant damages on farmed fish species and can result in poor growth performance, impaired welfare and death of farmed animals with significant consequences in terms of production and economic performance. Parasites can also affect the end users of aquaculture products and therefore their monitoring and eradication are essential for ensuring the safety of European consumers. The management of diseases is even more challenging in farmed aquatic mollusc where the absence of adaptive immune system further complicates the development of tools and methods allowing mitigating effects of diseases on production. Despite the initiatives that have been implemented to understand, explain and mitigate disease outbreaks affecting farmed molluscs, which seem to have multifactorial origins, the future of the European mollusc production sector is still challenged.
  • SFS-13-2015: Biological contamination of crops and the food chain. The occurrence of biological contamination in various crops is of major concern as it has major implications for food and feed safety, food security and international trade. Worldwide, it is estimated that mycotoxins are responsible for losses of up to 5-10% of crop production. Contaminations are due to a series of events including weather conditions, possible climate change effects, land use, crop management and varieties as well as harvest and post-harvest techniques. Integrated approaches rather than isolated solutions are required to effectively control the incidence of mycotoxins in crops and reduce contamination throughout the feed and food chains.
  • SFS-16-2015: Tackling malnutrition in the elderly. Population ageing in Europe poses major demographic and socioeconomic challenges which are expected to increase over the coming decades. While the ageing process itself does not usually cause malnutrition in healthy and active elderly people with appropriate lifestyles, changes in body composition, organ function, the ability to eat or access food, inadequate dietary intake and the partial loss of taste and smell are associated with ageing and may contribute to malnutrition. Malnutrition and weight loss, which tend to develop more readily in the elderly, significantly affect the quality of life, impact on physical and psychological functioning and can have multiple effects including immobility, skeletal disorders, insulin resistance, hypertension, atherosclerosis and metabolic disorders. The elderly are also among the groups most vulnerable to malnutrition in crisis and disaster situations. Providing an adequate diet with all essential nutrients, and promoting physical activity are essential for healthy ageing.
  • SFS-20-2015: Sustainable food chains through public policies: the cases of the EU quality policy and of public sector food procurement. In 2012 a new Regulation on the quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs was adopted in the EU. Important pillars of the EU quality policy are the protected designation of origin' (PDO)/'protected geographical indication' (PGI)/'traditional specialty guaranteed' (TSG) schemes, a scheme for optional quality terms and organic food and farming. They are meant to maintain a large variety of agricultural products, reflecting the diversity of EU agriculture and to allow remunerative prices to producers.
  • SFS-01c-2015: Assessing sustainability of terrestrial livestock production. Due to the increasing demand for animal derived food and the mounting pressure over land use, further intensification and expansion of animal production is expected. Development of the livestock sector at EU and global level is challenging as it puts pressure on the environment, human health and the welfare of animals within the systems. Climate change is an additional pressure to the sustainability (e.g. productivity, health) of livestock systems. Increasing efficiency is required, while decreasing the environmental footprint and increasing quality, e.g. nutritional value. Livestock farming systems generate valuable products for human consumption including some from resources that cannot otherwise be converted into food (e.g. grass-based systems). They support the development of rural communities. Extensive livestock systems can contribute to the management and maintenance of ecosystems and may increase biodiversity.
  • SFS-07b-2015: Management and sustainable use of genetic resources. Genetic diversity in agriculture and forestry - both within and between species - is commonly recognised as a pre-requisite to ensure food security, productivity as well as resilience of crops, forests and animals vis-à-vis biotic and abiotic threats in changing environments. Widening the genetic basis of crops, forest trees and animals as well as diversifying production is therefore essential. This requires coordinated efforts to enhance conservation, access and use of a wide range of genetic resources conserved in ex-situ and in-situ/on-farm conditions. Local livestock breeds, forest plants and crops are a particularly important source of genetic variation as they are associated with a number of favourable characters such as robustness, adaptation to local – often marginal – conditions or organoleptic and health attributes. They also provide the basis for products with a regional identity for which there is increased consumer interest. Despite these benefits their use has been decreasing partly because of lower productivity as compared to modern, high yielding and more uniform breeds and varieties. The improvement of local breeds and crops provides opportunities for diversification in agriculture along with new openings for regional, high quality products and for economic development.
  • SFS-11b-2015: Consolidating the environmental sustainability of European aquaculture. Access to space and high quality water are essential for European aquaculture operators. In particular, the lack of spatial planning is considered as one of the factors hindering the expansion of European aquaculture. Therefore, establishment of reliable (inland, coastal and offshore) spatial plans should be crucial for facilitating investment and development of the sector. Aquaculture also needs a high quality aquatic environment for ensuring the production of safe and nutritious seafood products. Subsequently, human activities, including operations of some specific aquaculture segments, that might affect negatively (e.g. through the impact of chemical, antibiotics, organic wastes, etc.) fresh water and marine ecosystems might also compromise the sustainability of European aquaculture. Therefore, ensuring the environmental sustainability of aquaculture practices is essential not only for guaranteeing compliance with the existing regulatory framework but also for improving the image of the European aquaculture sector. This should ultimately secure that the maximum economic potential of growth and employment is reached by the sector.
  • SFS-18-2015: Small farms but global markets: the role of small and familiy farms in food and nutrition security. The contribution of family farms and in particular smallholder farms to food and nutrition security (FNS) has been gaining global attention, both in Europe and in the context of less developed countries. While small farms, as well as other small and micro-sized food businesses, have an important role to play in supporting the local economy and food security in rural areas, this is often placed in contrast with the perceived benefits of large farm structures. This comparison, arguing for the benefits of economies of scale tends to downplay the efficiency of smallholdings, averts considerations for complementarities between agro-food systems, neglects the environmental and social aspects of sustainability such as the ability of small farms to maintain more diverse mixed production systems and the role of labour-inclusive family farms in maintaining an adequate rural/urban balance and enabling territorial development – a challenge for countries facing a strong rural population growth. It is therefore important to gain a better understanding of the contribution of small farms and food businesses to FNS and their resilience to shocks in an increasingly globalised and uncertain world. In particular, it must be understood whether small and family farms may contribute to a 'right balance' between technical, economic, environmental and social sustainability, taking into account the linkages with the up- and downstream sectors and in particular small and medium sized enterprises differentiating between the urban and rural dimensions of FNS, and identifying the requirements with regard to infrastructure (incl. labour, transport, energy, communication, food-safety, etc.), supply chain (local/regional markets), technical pathways (focus on production and transformation at farm level) and governance (local/global).


European community funding

The Community provisional funding available for the call for proposals is:

  • 93,00 Million EUR (Global Budget)

All the important deadlines

  • 24 February 2015 - 6 years ago (Deadline for the presentation of proposals)

Further information about the call

Official webpage of the call

Useful documents

  • Sustainable Food Security (Legal base)

Organisations eligible to participate

Opened to the following bodies or institutes with legal status established in the covered areas:

  • Any legal organisation

Covered areas

Bodies or institutes must have their registered legal seat in one of the countries taking part in the Programme which are:

  • European Union (EU)

Directorate-Generale responsible

Directorate-General for Research

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