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4th SNOWMAN call for research proposals
Social and economic knowledge for
sustainable soil management

Open 18 September 2012 – Closed 17 december 2012

The SNOWMAN network is a transnational group of research funding organizations and administrations in the field of soil and groundwater in Europe. The SNOWMAN network wants to develop and share knowledge for the sustainable use of soil and groundwater. For the development of knowledge we have a research programme that we execute by organizing calls for projects. Already three calls have been launched successfully. More information on the history and accomplishments of the SNOWMAN group and the finalised and ongoing projects can be found on the website.
The SNOWMAN network now announces its 4th call.  

The call topics
The research questions for the 4th call are derived from the SNOWMAN Research Programme and from the inputs and priorities of the funders who decided to join their efforts and budgets to organise this transnational call. All SNOWMAN partners believe soil quality management should change from a specific sectoral policy and management issue into an integrated factor in social and economic decision processes. There is lack of knowledge in terms on how society understands, perceives and values soils. Social and economic scientific issues also have to be explored alongside the natural science areas.

The focus of the 4th call will therefore be on the relationship between the natural scientific and the social and economic aspects of soil by integrating, natural social and economic science perspectives on soil research. Attention will thus be drawn to the coupled interactions between economic (profit), ecologic (planet) and social (people) systems.

Overlapping themes from the social and economic sciences that have emerged are: ownership relationships and responsibilities; policy integration, administrative and legal issues; perception, communication; awareness, change and learning; (participative) valuation, monetarization, business cases; (adaptive) governance issues and (proactive) decision making.

Ten major “issues” in the context of social and economic research related to soil have been defined on the basis of these overlapping themes. These issues are (in no specific order):
1.   Consideration of soil (quality) in the holistic approach to land management and redevelopment.
2.   Assessment of the trade-offs between different soil services.
3.   Ignorance and the appeal of (using) the soil.
4.   Ownership relationships with regard to soil.
5.   Formal framework for achieving the efficient and sustainable use of soil
6.   Sectoral (or private) versus social (or public) value systems.
7.   Fragmented share of costs and benefits.
8.   Consideration of specific characteristics of the soil system as
      an object of concern in environmental management and policy
9.   Communication, risk perception and awareness raising:
9a. Risk perception of contaminated soils by different stakeholders
      and communication with the general public.
9b. Communication and awareness-raising
      (on all soil issues, not just contamination)
10.  Management of uncertainties (related to all soil issues)
       in decision-making processes.
A description of these issues, with examples of situations and of research questions are avaible in the Applicants’ guide (chapter 2.2).

In this 4th call we would like to address these 10 social/economic issues within two specific thematic clusters:
I.     Soil contamination
II.    Agricultural and forest soils: 
        special emphasis may be placed on research related to 
        climate change within this cluster.

An estimated budget of around 1.8 Million euro is foreseen.  

Who is eligible?
The 4th SNOWMAN call will be open in all countries participating in the call within a limited time from 18 September 2012 until 17 December 2012.
The call is open to contractors eligible to participate in the RTD (i.e. Research and Technology Development) programmes run by the funders participating SNOWMAN’s fourth call. Participants should build a trans-national research consortium involving at least two independent legal entities from at least two of the SNOWMAN 4th call funding countries listed in the table below. Besides this, consortia may be supplemented by any additional research partners (e.g. from other EU Countries and EU Associated States) in case of availability of third party funding.  

What kind of projects?
SNOWMAN would like to fund strategic research that is applicable for the stakeholders involved. It must contribute to the policies of those providing funding. Sustainable soil management is an activity that has to be implemented in practice, at a project site level, but also on a regional or national scale with medium and long term perspectives.
There are no strict guidelines on the type and size of the projects as this depends on the kind of research the applicant proposes. Examples of projects include:
-  laboratory or field experiments;
-  desk studies (including state- of-the-art studies, assessment of existing knowledge, 
   prospective studies aimed at identifying research needs, 
   reviews of regulatory drivers, enablers or blockers…);
-  development of procedures, methods or codes of good practice;
-  participative action research;
-  comparative cases/regional case studies;
-  scenario analyses, model exercises;
-  tools for better understanding;
-  analysis of decision-making processes;
The proposed projects may run for up to three years, including the submission of the draft final report. Projects with contributions from Dutch partners will have a shorter duration in terms of the Dutch part of the project because the SKB program will end in December 2014.

The involvement of social and/or economic scientists is required and the involvement of both natural and social and/or economic scientists in the project team is highly recommended.

The main fields of expertise involved in social and economic sciences are:
-  public and business administration
-  communication/participation
-  economics, health economics, environmental economics
-  valuation and financial expertise
-  innovation and transition sciences
-  psychology
-  sociology
-  political sciences
-  law|
-  anthropology
-  archaeology
-  social and economic geography
-  (urban) planning and mobility studies
-  education science

The involvement of stakeholders and particularly end-users (policy or decision makers, regulators, land owners or land users, service providers…) in the project team is highly recommended. The identification and participation of end-users and stakeholders will be specifically assessed.

Where possible and/or relevant, projects should be based on practical case-studies in order to engage researchers with different backgrounds in a practical experimental situation in order to foster an interdisciplinary approach.
In order to make research results useful, knowledge dissemination and arrangements for knowledge transfer must be an important part of the research projects. The target groups for the results must be clearly defined and technical information must be provided in an understandable form and manner for the respective target group. Case studies are highly recommended for this reason.

The call procedures
Submission to SNOWMAN will involve a single stage application, followed by an eligibility check, and a two stage evaluation process of fundability and scientific quality and relevance. The scientific quality and relevance will be evaluated by a Peer Review panel of international experts. The SNOWMAN’s Call 4 Steering Committee will strive to arrange a balanced portfolio of funded projects covering all the topic areas.
Funding for the coordinated call will be subdivided into national contributions, financed by national funding organisations and based on their own existing funding rules. Contracts for successful applications will be placed between the research partners and their national funding organisation. However, for the second time in the SNOWMAN calls, the funders may decide to fund a whole project, or components of a project implemented by researchers from other countries. Further information on funding conditions is available from the organisations mentioned in the list of funding organisations below.

The SNOWMAN network shares the knowledge coming from all projects and we share the knowledge that is available among the members of the network. Need more information or interested to join? Contact us.

More information can be found on the website.

The funding organisations participating SNOWMAN’s 4th call


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