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Knowledge category: Funding and financing

HORIZON-CL6-2024-ZEROPOLLUTION-01-1: Demonstrating how regions can operate within safe ecological and regional nitrogen and phosphorus boundaries

Updated on 19.09.2023

Successful proposals under this topic will provide all actors involved in nitrogen and phosphorus (N/P) emitting activities in a given region with a demonstrated set of measures to limit N/P emissions and re-balance their flows within safe ecological boundaries on regional and local scales. In doing so, they will contribute to restoring ecosystems in line with the European Green Deal and the EU’s zero pollution action plan.

Financial entity: European Commission
Contact: via contact form  

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

This topic will be part of the demonstration projects for the implementation of the CCRI and must be carried out in close cooperation with this initiative.

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:

  • best practice, including technical and governance solutions, to reduce N/P emissions into water, air and soil from all emitting sectors, in line with relevant EU limit values;
  • demonstrated environmental, economic and behavioural effects of aforementioned N/P limiting solutions while promoting local and regional sustainability and circular economy schemes;
  • comprehensive guidance on sustainable and circular practices to control N/P flows at regional level in the EU, and recommendations to relevant actors (policymakers, local administrations, practitioners, industries etc.).

Building on recent innovations in regional N/P budgeting and quantification methodologies to ensure good status for air, water and soil ecosystems, this Innovation Action should demonstrate how to apply optimised N/P budgets, based on maximum allowable inputs of N/P at a regional/river basin scale, and create the necessary systemic and multi-actor transition pathways to ensure a sustainable integrated N/P management in the future.

The aim is to show how N/P-relevant sectors in a given region can limit N/P emissions to air, water and soil from their activities by respecting pre-established regional budgets and applying balancing practices. N/P-balancing practices comprise activities that enhance the sustainability and circularity of relevant resources and services between urban/industrial and rural/coastal environments and apply respective governance measures. Finally, it will be essential to develop comprehensive guidelines to disseminate best practices and techniques to all involved actors.

Applicant criteria

For more information about the requirements, please see the work programme, call text and call documents.

Eligible projects/themes

Proposals must target N/P-relevant sectors (e.g. agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, industrial sectors, food/drink sector, water supply, water/waste management, bioenergy, fossil-based energy production, mining activities, transport, unintentional losses through leaching and run-off of agricultural nutrients, etc.) in a given region and must demonstrate how they can limit N/P emissions to air, water and soil from their activities by respecting pre-established regional budgets and applying balancing practices.

More broadly, successful proposals are expected to contribute to the Horizon Europe Destination ‘Clean environment and zero pollution (2023/24)’. This Destination seeks to halt and prevent pollution by focusing on:

  • removing pollution from fresh and marine waters, soils, air, including from nitrogen and phosphorus emissions;
  • substituting harmful chemicals;
  • improving the environmental sustainability and circularity of bio-based systems;
  • reducing environmental impacts of and pollution in food systems.

Amount of funding

The total indicative budget for the topic is €27 million. The indicative number of grants is three.

Application process

  1. The European Commission publishes the call for proposals on the Funding and Tenders Portal.
  2. The call is open for a typical period of around five months, during which applicants can submit their proposal.
  3. Horizon Europe calls can be single or two-stage application processes. In this case, the call is a single-stage process. This requires a structured proposal of max. 45 pages to be filled in, including objectives and innovation approach (excellence), tangible impacts that can be achieved through the project (impact) and the project planning and tasks (quality). These documents are to be uploaded to the portal in pdf format alongside administrative information on the beneficiaries, affiliated entities or others, to be filled in on the portal. All participants need to possess a Participant Identification Code (PIC number, a 9-digit number registered on ECAS). For more information, please see the work programme and the call documents.
  4. Proposals submitted within the deadline will be evaluated by experts against evaluation criteria.
  5. Winning proposals will be invited to sign a grant agreement with the Commission.


Planned opening date: 17 October 2023

Deadline date: 22 February 2024, 17.00 Brussels time

Financing type
Territories involved

large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000

large metropolitan area >1.5 million, metropolitan area 1.5 million-500 000

predominantly urban regions, intermediate and predominantly rural regions, refer to TERCET typology NUTS 3 region