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News: April 2017

LIFE launches 2017 call for action grants: more than €373 million available

Photo: European Union

28 April 2017 The LIFE programme has launched its 2017 call for proposals, underlining its commitment to supporting projects that protect the environment and tackle the impact of climate change.

The total budget for project action grants in this year’s call is over €373 million. Of this, over €290 million is foreseen for the sub-programme for Environment and over €82 million for the sub-programme for Climate Action. At least 55% of the budgetary resources allocated to projects supported by way of action grants under the sub-programme for Environment shall be dedicated to projects supporting the conservation of nature and biodiversity.

For the sub-programme for Environment, the call covers action grants for "Traditional" projects, Preparatory projects, Integrated projects and Technical Assistance projects.
For the sub-programme for Climate Action, this call will cover action grants for "Traditional projects", Integrated projects and Technical Assistance projects.

In this year’s call the Commission is particularly interested in close-to-market projects, i.e. projects that propose a new solution with clear environmental and/or climate benefits and which have a level of technical and business readiness allowing them to implement their solution in close-to-market conditions.

Applications are welcomed from public bodies, private commercial organisations and private non-commercial organisations (NGOs). Proposals may be submitted by legal persons (entities) registered in the EU.

Applicants are advised to note that new features have been introduced for "Traditional" projects in the 2017 call. They are summarised in the first pages of the Guidelines in each application package and detailed further in the different sections.  

Applicants should also note that the template of the Grant Agreement will be posted on the website in the coming weeks.


For further information about all the features of the 2017 call for action grants, including guidance, links to application packages and links to National Contacts Points, go to the 2017 call page on the LIFE website.

On the 31 May 2017 there will be a LIFE 2017 call information and networking event to explain how to prepare and submit a successful LIFE proposal.

LIFEnews N° 03/17

LIFEnews 03/17

27 April 2017 This edition of LIFEnews focuses on environmental governance.

The first article features an interview with Liam Cashman from DG Environment's Compliance and Better Regulation Unit.

The second article showcases a number of LIFE projects which are helping to improve implementation of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation.


Download this issue >>

LIFE programme showcased at final BeWater project conference in Slovenia

Photo: BeWater

26 April 2017 A proactive approach to engaging citizens in the management of river basins to cope with the effects of climate change was the theme of the final conference of the BeWater project in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, in March 2017.

BeWater, a project funded by the EU’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration, was an initiative encompassing partner organisations from nine EU Member States and Tunisia. The project promoted collaboration between science and society for sustainable water management and adaptation to the impacts of global change in the Mediterranean. The project used an iterative process of mutual learning, participatory techniques and a bottom-up approach to ensure that stakeholders play an active role in determining appropriate strategies for management of river basins.

Experts from across the European Union – coming from a range of sectors including public authorities, policymakers, scientists, academics and representatives of environmental NGOs – gathered at the conference, hosted by the Institute of Water of the Republic of Slovenia, to look at the many challenges arising in the water management field from the effects of climate change and the increasing demand for fresh water supplies and to subsequently discuss best practices for river basin management and the most effective ways of promoting understanding and collaboration between science and citizens.

The conference heard that for adaptation strategies to be credible, informed and achievable, they need to involve a diversity of stakeholders, sectors and policy areas in the river basin. This approach was elaborated by in-depth analyses of four riparian zones in Cyprus, Slovenia, Spain and Tunisia by the BeWater project. The project’s final products included four separate strategic documents on future management of river catchments in the light of resilience due to climate change.

A delegate from the LIFE programme participated in the conference, promoting LIFE to the Slovenian attendants and making a presentation entitled ‘The LIFE programme: good practice on River Basin Adaptation’. A selection of best LIFE practices for river catchments or aquifers, which offer possibilities for replication and transferability were highlighted. The LIFE representative also informed the Slovenian water management specialists and climate change experts about LIFE funding opportunities and encouraged them to submit project proposals within the LIFE Climate Action sub-programme.

Importantly, the coordinating beneficiary of the sole ongoing Slovenian LIFE project within the Climate Action strand, namely LIFE ViVaCCAdapt (LIFE15 CCA/Sl/000070), was also present to showcase its initiatives and to network with the different actors. The project’s activities, which are implemented to the Vipava valley in Slovenia, are perfectly aligned with the theme of the conference. 

The photo album of the conference is available here.

Vote now for your favourite LIFE project in the Green Awards


21 April 2017 This year the LIFE programme celebrates its 25th anniversary. In order to commemorate LIFE’s achievements during this time, the European Commission has selected 15 outstanding LIFE projects as nominees for the Green Awards. The awards are for the most outstanding completed LIFE projects since 1992.

The winners in each of the categories (Environment, Nature & biodiversity and Climate Action) will be announced on 30 May 2017 at the Green Awards ceremony during EU Green Week in Brussels. There will be two Green Award winners in each of the three categories (i.e. six winners in total).

The winners will be selected by means of a public vote on Facebook. Voting is open from now until 10 May 2017.

The nominees for the Green Awards were selected by a jury, based on a number of criteria, including long-term sustainability, communication potential and broader impact on national, European or global level. They were additionally scored on innovation, transferability, environmental benefits and conservation status.
The nominated projects are (by category and in alphabetical order):


BREAD4PLA  showed how waste plastic and bread generated in bakeries can be turned into biodegradable packaging material for bakery products.

EWWR  demonstrated waste prevention, reuse and recycling methods all across Europe, and initiating the popular European Week for Waste Reduction and other awareness-raising activities.

From Roof to Road showed how waste bitumen from roofing felt, which is usually landfilled or burned with the release of pollutants, can be reused in asphalt to build or repair roads.

LOWaste demonstrated an effective way of developing a local market for second-life goods, by bringing together waste operators, small reuse and recycling platforms, artisans and SMEs engaged in the manufacture of products from recovered materials.

SOL-BRINE  demonstrated how brine can be recycled in desalination plants on water-scarce Mediterranean islands, turning a potential threat to aquatic habitats into useful water and dried salt.


AlterIAS developed a code of conduct to reduce the economic damage and loss of biodiversity caused by invasive alien plant species in Belgium; as a result, nurseries stopped selling many invasive exotic plants and recommended native species instead.

Andalusian Lynx Introduction made a very significant contribution to the recovery of Iberian lynx, through land stewardship agreements and conservation actions, resulting in the IUCN taking the species off its 'critically endangered' list.

BurrenLIFE pioneered a novel approach to farming and conservation, and by demonstrating this on 20 farms it developed a costed blueprint for protecting the unique landscape of the Burren and tackling the most pressing issues affecting this rural region of Ireland.

Save the Raptors established nine new breeding pairs of the endangered imperial eagles in Bulgaria, bringing the total breeding population to 25 pairs, and also created local jobs in a region with the highest unemployment rate in the country.

SloWolf  deployed innovative genetic methods to identify individual wolves and developed management plans in Slovenia to help people co-exist peacefully with wolves.


ACUMEN, which demonstrated how methane from closed landfills can be captured and used to generate energy, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

AgriClimateChange  developed a tool for calculating greenhouse gas emissions and energy use on farms, which it used to demonstrate sustainable practices that lowered carbon footprint without affecting farm productivity.

ClimaBiz enabled businesses in Greece to take advantage of opportunities linked to climate change, by developing innovative tools to estimate in monetary terms the costs of climate change for businesses and the necessary investment costs of adaptation.

DYEMOND SOLAR  demonstrated an innovative method of producing non-toxic dye-sensitised solar cells, which led to environmental improvements in solar cell manufacturing and the creation of many jobs in Sweden.

SLIDE IN  utilised old tram networks in two Swedish cities to demonstrate a novel electric bus system, in which the overhead wires recharged on-board batteries while the buses were in use.


LIFE-IP MAŁOPOLSKA success acknowledged by European Ombudsman award

Photo: LIFE14 IPE/PL/000021

19 April 2017 LIFE-IP MAŁOPOLSKA (LIFE14 IPE/PL/000021), a Polish LIFE integrated project carried out in the Małopolska region has been very successful in leveraging funding sources. The project helped secure an additional €800 million on top of the initial €15 million EU funding for the implementation of its air quality plan for the region, one of Europe's top three hotspots for air pollution.

This achievement has now been recognised at the European Ombudsman Award for Good Administration 2017. The LIFE programme provides financial support for environmental and climate action projects in the EU. The LIFE team from the European Commission’s DG Environment, DG Climate and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) worked with regional authorities and civil society to leverage the additional €800 million. The LIFE team from the DG Environment, DG Climate and EASME were the winners in the excellence in collaboration  category

LIFE integrated projects (IPs) implement environmental plans or strategies required by EU environmental legislation on a large territorial scale – regional, multi-regional, national and trans-national scale. Their impacts can be far-reaching, having a multiplier effect. Such an impact is especially true for Małopolska, and other regions, such as Silesia, have already expressed an interest in becoming involved.

LIFE IP Climate Action projects launched in Germany and Denmark

Photo: LIFE14 NAT/SE/000201

18 April 2017 Two LIFE Integrated Projects (IPs) were launched at kick off events on 30 March 2017: LIFE-IP ZENAPA (LIFE15 IPC/DE/000005) in Germany and LIFE IP C2C CC (LIFE15 IPC/DK/000006) in Denmark.

LIFE-IP ZENAPA (Zero Emission Nature Protection Areas) was launched by its beneficiary, the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS), at an event on the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld. This was attended by ministers from several German regional governments and from Luxembourg.

The 8-year German LIFE IP has a total budget of €17 million - of which the LIFE programme is contributing €8 million - and involves 11 partners in 8 German Länder and Luxembourg. LIFE-IP ZENAPA aims to mitigate climate change by promoting the transition to low-carbon energy production in protected areas and subsequently using the profit derived from these renewable energy investments to support nature conservation. To implement such measures, the project is working with the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park, Vulkaneifel Geopark, Pfälzerwald Biosphere Reserve, the newly-created Nature Park Müllerthal Nature Park in Luxembourg, and other partners.

LIFE-IP ZENAPA will build on experience with wind power and other renewable energy sources, in harmony with biodiversity goals. At the kick off meeting, the project partners were convinced that, as a result of the new partnerships and activities, the project will succeed in solving conflicts between climate action and nature protection objectives, by steering an appropriate energy transition. Further information can be found here.

In Denmark, around 260 people attended the launch of LIFE IP C2C CC (Coast to Coast Climate Challenge). The project, headed by the Central Denmark Region, in close cooperation with 30 other beneficiaries, has a total budget of around €12.2 million, with the LIFE programme contributing around €7 million.

The objective of the 6-year Danish LIFE IP project is to create climate-resilient cities, in a climate-resilient region, by drawing up a coordinated long-term strategy and implementing local climate change adaptation plans related to water management, focusing on four themes related to the hydrological cycle: sea and fjords, rivers, groundwater and rainwater. In collaboration with citizens, municipalities, utilities and companies in the water sector, this integrated approach to flood risk management will optimise the use of resources and improve capacity at all levels to implement climate adaptation measures. The project will also raise public awareness, develop new technologies and eco-tourism infrastructure, and showcase the cultural and natural history of the project area.

At the kick-off event, former EU Climate Commissioner and current chairperson of Danish green think tank Concito, Connie Hedegaard said, “the climate waits for no-one, and whoever is able to create a well thought-out and – not least – coherent climate adaptation plan will simultaneously be able to create growth and jobs.”
Alongside a number of speeches, the launch event in Herning also featured exhibitions by some of the 24 Coast to Coast Climate Challenge sub-projects, as well as exhibitions by some of the enterprises and consultancy firms that have identified business opportunities in implementing climate adaptation measures.  For further information, check out the project’s website.

LIFE Integrated Projects were introduced to enable environmental legislation to be implemented on a larger territorial scale than is possible with traditional LIFE projects. LIFE IPs under the Climate Action sub-programme help implement climate action plans, strategies and roadmaps at multi-regional, national and trans-national levels, primarily in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

LIFE-IP ZENAPA and LIFE IP C2C CC were among nine LIFE IPs selected in 2015; having a total budget of €171.5 million, including €89.7 million of EU co-financing. In common with other IP projects, the German and Danish IP projects are expected to mobilise significant amounts of complementary funding.

LIFE Berlengas eradicating invasive plant from Portuguese island

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/PT/000458Before the action

06 April 2017 The LIFE Berlengas (LIFE13 NAT/PT/000458) project has made great progress in eliminating an invasive alien species (IAS), the Carpobrotus edulis plant, from the Berlengas archipelago off the Portuguese coast.

Native to South Africa, C. edulis is considered to be one of the world's 100 worst invasive species; it was introduced to Berlenga island in the 1950s and thanks to an impressive propagation capacity quickly colonised its slopes. With very dense leaves and strong roots, the invasive plant is a major threat to the conservation of native plants, especially three endemic species - the Berlengas Thrift (Armeria berlengensis), Berlengas Rupturewort (Herniaria berlengiana) and Berlengas Fleabane (Pulicaria microcephala). It also poses a threat to seabirds, as it forms a dense carpet which reduces the availability of nesting areas.

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/PT/000458After the action

The overall goal of LIFE Berlengas is to conserve threatened habitats and species in the Berlengas Natura 2000 network site, through sustainable management. To achieve this, it will establish a legally binding management plan for the site.

At the beginning of the project, the Carpobrotus covered 38 533 m2 of Berlenga island. After two and half years' work by LIFE Berlengas' partners and volunteers, some 15 000 m2 have been removed from Berlenga, representing about 40% of its total area. By the project's end in 2018, the coordinator SPEA (the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds) aims to have eradicated the species from the island.

For further information on the LIFE programme's work to combat IAS, see the publication LIFE and Invasive Alien Species.

PF4EE to make €50 million loans available for Italian energy efficiency projects


06 April 2017 On 30 March 2017, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the BPER Banca Group announced the first project in Italy under the Private Finance for Energy Efficiency (PF4EE) instrument and the LIFE programme. They are to provide €50 million in loans to support energy efficiency initiatives implemented by businesses of all sizes. By giving Italian companies access to this financing on favourable terms, the EIB and BPER will contribute to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and tackling climate change.

The PF4EE instrument aims to increase private financing for investments in energy efficiency, to help Member States achieve EU energy efficiency targets. The European Commission entrusted the management of the PF4EE to the EIB.

EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco, BPER Banca Group Managing Director Alessandro Vandelli, and representatives from the Commission's Directorate for Climate Action, were among those attending the event to mark the announcement.
The European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said, “unlocking investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency will create local jobs, protect the environment and strengthen economic growth. This is a great opportunity for Italian small businesses, and I really hope they will seize it.”
Mr Scannapieco highlighted the importance of the funding to the EIB, “improving energy efficiency and tackling climate change are among the pillars of the EU bank's financing across all Member States. This is why I am delighted with this operation which, thanks to Commission guarantees and the dedication of our partner BPER, will make it possible to further expand the range of financial and advisory instruments offered to final beneficiaries.”

Speaking for the BPER Banca Group, Mr Vandelli said, “our bank continues to maintain and strengthen its expert activities to support entrepreneurship, in unison with the EU institutions, confirming its awareness and care for environmental issues and energy policy, which are decisive factors for growth.”

Specifically, the PF4EE instrument combines three elements. The first is financing on favourable terms from the EIB to BPER, with the latter managing the selection and distribution of the loans to businesses. The second element is a Commission guarantee that partially covers the risk borne by BPER. The third element is the provision of technical assistance to BPER to support lending activities directed towards energy efficiency investments.

Italian businesses can request financing from BPER for initiatives connected to the energy efficiency of buildings, district heating or cooling plants, public lighting infrastructure, or high-efficiency heat and power cogeneration plants.
Further information about this PF4EE announcement can be found on the EIB website.

New Focus on LIFE and the Circular economy

LIFE and the Circular economy

06 April 2017 LIFE has published a new Focus brochure on one of the greatest environmental, social and economic challenges of the next 30 years – the transition to a circular economy.

In his foreword to the brochure, Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, sets out the challenge ahead: “Europe needs to move away from a ‘linear’ economic model that is resource intensive and unsustainable towards a more ‘circular’ approach, where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimised.”   

LIFE and the Circular economy highlights what the EU's programme for the environment and climate action has already done to achieve this goal and suggests more ways LIFE can contribute in future. The LIFE programme has invested some €1 billion since 1992 in over 700 circular economy-related projects on reuse, waste prevention and recycling. LIFE has further increased its support for circular economy-related actions in the current multiannual financial framework, helping to invest over €100 million in more than 80 projects since 2014.

The brochure includes expert interviews with Daniel Calleja Crespo from the European Commission, MEP Sirpa Pietkäinen and Jocelyn Blériot from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an organisation that is developing tools to help companies make their products more circular and become more circular as a whole.

This essential new publication covers the full range of thematic areas linked to the circular economy: production, consumption, waste management, the market for secondary raw materials, and the five priority sectors identified in the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan of December 2015: plastics, biomass and bio-based products, critical raw materials, food waste, and construction and demolition waste.

The six chapters feature more than 100 projects that between them have mobilised €270 million of targeted spending. This includes some €110 million of direct funding from the EU. These replicable and marketable projects can be a source of inspiration to anyone working to make our economy more resource efficient, from citizens, to communities, entrepreneurs, major enterprises, public servants and politicians. As Commissioner Vella notes: “There are tremendous opportunities for business development and job creation in a circular economy.”

Download: LIFE and the Circular economy
pdf (~ 8.2 MB)

LIFE 2017: Up to 60% co-financing for close-to-market environment and climate solutions

Photo: LIFE14 NAT/SE/000201

03 April 2017 The European Commission will launch a new call for proposals under the LIFE programme on 28 April 2017, with application deadlines in September 2017. Nearly €260 million in funding will be available for environment and climate projects ("traditional projects").

The Commission is particularly interested in close-to-market projects, i.e. projects that:

  • propose a new, demonstrative solution able to bring clear environmental and/or climate benefits, e.g. in the fields of waste management, circular economy, resource efficiency, climate change mitigation, and water; and
  • have a level of technical and business readiness allowing them to implement their solution in close-to-market conditions (i.e. at industrial or commercial scale) during the project duration. 

Interested applicants should consider applying to the traditional projects call for proposals in the following priority areas:

Read more about the co-funding available for close-to-market environment and climate solutions.

Applicants busy designing projects for potential new LIFE funding should highlight the following date in their agendas: 31 May 2017. This is when the European Commission will host an information and networking event on the 2017 LIFE funding opportunities.

Finalists announced for the European Week for Waste Reduction Awards


04 April 2017 The Life EWWR+ (LIFE12 INF/BE/000459) project has announced the finalists in the eighth European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) Awards. The winners will be announced during the project's final international conference, entitled Qualitative Prevention, a new approach towards the circular economy being held in Barcelona on 18 May 2017.

This year's ceremony will reward the most outstanding actions carried out during the EWWR campaign in 2016. The EWWR Awards Jury, comprising six European professionals working in the environmental sector, met in Brussels on 24 March 2017 to select three finalists in each of six categories: Administration/public authority; Association/NGO; Business/industry; Educational establishment; Citizen(s); and Other. Aspects such as visibility, the quality of the action, and the lasting impact of the action were taken into account during the selection process. The full list of finalists can be found on the EWWR website.

Building on the previous EWWR project, Life EWWR+ has expanded awareness and understanding of waste prevention, reuse and recycling, and organised the annual European Week for Waste Recycling since 2013.

Although funding for the LIFE project will come to an end in June 2017, the EWWR will continue. The annual week of activities will take place 18-26 November 2017 and further events are planned. Both public and private actors are invited to be part of the new EWWR Steering Committee. If you are interested in shaping the future of the EWWR, contact the EWWR Secretariat for more information.

For more about the final international conference, check out the introductory video.

LIFE 2017 call for proposals for NGOs and information day

Photo: LIFE14 NAT/SE/000201

03 April 2017 The call for proposals for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the fields of environment and climate action is open!

To check the eligibility of your organisation, please read carefully the eligibility criteria.

Any applicant must:

  1. Be a non-profit making legal person;
  2. Be independent, in particular from government, other public authorities, and from political or commercial interests;
  3. Be primarily active in the field of environment and/or climate action and have an environmental/climate objective which is aimed at:
    1. the public good,
    2. sustainable development, and
    3. the development, implementation and enforcement of European Union environmental and/or climate policy and legislation;
  4. Be established (legally registered) in one of the European Union Member States.
  5. Be operating at Union level with a structure and activities covering at least three European Union Member States.

For more information, follow this link to download the call, application guide and other useful documents.

An information event for potential applicants will take place on 20 April at the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) in Brussels. Please register for the event by 13 April.

Update 03/05/17: presentations from the information event are now available here


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