The Societal Challenge 5 Work Programme for 2018-2020 focuses on moving to a greener, more resource efficient and climate-resilient economy in sync with the natural environment, demonstrating a strong commitment to supporting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the targets of the COP21 Paris Agreement. Overall, the Work Programme contributes strongly to the focus areas 'Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future' and 'Connecting economic and environmental gains - the circular economy'.
Sustainable development is at the heart of this Societal Challenge, and this Work Programme contributes to many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth; climate action; responsible consumption and production; industry, innovation and infrastructure; sustainable cities and communities; clean water and sanitation; and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.
Within this Work Programme, actions support R&I which aims to both improve our understanding of the causes of climate change and to pave the way for pathways and solutions to address them, underpinning European and global efforts to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement. Beyond the general focus on Europe (including its outermost regions), specific attention will be paid to climate change hot-spots as well as to cooperation with key international partners.
At the same time, actions in this Work Programme aim to help build societies that are resilient to the impacts of climate change, extreme events and natural disasters. Cities are the home of complex, inter-dependent challenges related to resource depletion, climate change impacts, environmental degradation, pollution, health issues and social exclusion. Actions therefore aim to develop, deploy and validate approaches – based on nature-based solutions – that can simultaneously address these challenges. Under the current EU research and innovation policy framework nature-based solutions are defined as: “Living solutions inspired and supported by nature that simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help to build resilience. These solutions bring more nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions.” Ultimately actions will support both the global Urban Agenda adopted in Quito and the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Actions in this Work Programme with a focus on water will support and accelerate the implementation of EU water, resource efficiency and water-dependent industrial policies and initiatives, including the European Innovation Partnership Water (EIP Water). They will also contribute to the EU's policies on the Energy Union, climate action and the digital economy, while strengthening international collaboration and partnerships on water-smart solutions, technologies and governance, and thereby also supporting Europe in achieving relevant commitments under the UN's 2030 Strategy for Sustainable Development. During the period 2018-2020, Societal Challenge 5 also supports the PRIMA initiative (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area).
Finally, actions in this Work Programme aim to both protect and develop natural and cultural assets, such as biodiversity, ecosystems and tangible cultural heritage, and to leverage their value for the economy and society. Actions will also aim to harness the wealth of existing Earth observation data and information to support the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals, whether in the areas of climate action, water management, environmental protection, business competitiveness, or others.
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