SSH Rate

Coastal-rural interactions: Enhancing synergies between land and sea-based activities

Specific Challenge

At the interface of land and sea, coastal areas are environmentally fragile but also attractive areas with unexploited business opportunities. Land-based activities in coastal regions and even beyond, in upstream river-basins, influence the availability and quality of fresh water reaching the sea and, as a consequence, coastal and sea-based economic activities (including tourism) and the exploitation of marine resources. Equally, coastal development can have positive or negative effects on hinterland development, e.g. tourism-related pressure on land availability. Mainstream agro-environmental policies tend to fail when it comes to lowering nutrient load on the shorelines while rural economies do not always benefit from the economic development on the coast. There is a need to explore how territorial governance approaches and cross-sectoral economic development approaches could deliver mutually beneficial impacts for rural territories and coastal areas and seas which cannot be achieved in other ways, in particular as regards mitigating the impact of land-based activities on coastal water quality.


Combining environmental, agricultural and socio-economic research, proposals will identify and analyse interactions between land (coast and hinterland) and sea, identify the various components of local economies at the interface of land and sea and analyse their respective importance and short, medium and long-term development trends taking into account market, demographic, environmental and climate forecasts. The analysis should provide an inventory of the positive and negative externalities of different activities, including the effect they have on each other, and consider whether solutions exist to mitigate negative externalities and enhance positive externalities, listing motivations and barriers to change for the types of player involved. The analysis should highlight potential cross-sectoral interactions and innovation that could emerge from greater cooperation between sea-based and land-based businesses or organisations.

The analysis should cover a representative set of coastal areas or regions across Europe varying according to size and geographical, environmental, socio-economic, institutional and administrative conditions (regional, inter-regional, macro-region, cross-border). Interactive research approaches should be used to engage with local businesses and citizens and elaborate options for cooperation, networking and integrated governance seeking to enhance partnership. Activities could usefully build on a review of positive (and perhaps negative) examples from different areas, including innovative business models integrating land-based and sea-based production with simultaneous benefit for the local economy, local jobs and the environment both on the coast and in the hinterland. Proposals could seek to create long-lasting relationships within and between the case study areas benchmarked by the project in order to generate knowledge exchange.

Concrete outputs would include a set of tools which could be used to foster synergistic relationships in different coastal areas of Europe, and concrete and operational governance models to be applied. The potential use of instruments provided by the European Structural and Investment funds for the period 2014-2020 should be explored. Communication and dissemination activities should be carefully targeted and planned to reach out to all potentially interested areas beyond those participating in the consortium. Training material and coaching activities may be envisaged. Some cooperation activities with projects financed under topic RUR-1-2016 could be included.

Proposals should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach' and involve farmers groups and other land and sea-based businesses, and economic and local development bodies. Engaging with managing authorities of European structural and investment funds during the project would help increase implementation of the project outcomes.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

Results are expected to contribute to the long-term improvement of sea water quality combined with the creation of added value and jobs in coastal areas and hinterland through:

  • development of a transferable set of tools and indicators allowing the quantitative and qualitative description of a wide variety of economic, environmental and social land-sea interactions, thus improving understanding of economic and social interactions in coastal areas, serving a more evidence-based policy-making at local and regional level;
  • a thorough understanding of the factors (barriers and motivators) influencing behaviour and solutions to enable joint actions;
  • increased potential for job and added-value creation in coastal areas thanks to the identification of new business opportunities stemming from closer cooperation between land- and sea-based economic operators; and
  • reduced negative externalities from land-based activities in the regional hinterland on sea-based activities thanks to better economic cooperation and integrated governance.

The project may lead to the creation of longer-term relationships between coastal areas serving as European flagships for rural-coastal synergies and ensuring longer and wider dissemination.

Cross-cutting Priorities

Socio-economic science and humanities

Call ID
RUR-02-2017 - RIA Research and Innovation action
Application date
14 Feb 2017
Europe H2020
Social sciences Business and Administrative Sciences Environmental Sciences Political science Other Agronomy Engineering
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 99 years
Program Type
Societal Challenges Societal challenge 2: Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy
Grants available
Award granted
€ 5.000.000