By Vanessa Del Pozo Sánchez
Amid a pandemic that has collapsed the health systems of many countries, killed an estimated 4.5 million people, affected the global economy, and slowed travel, we find other disasters that have added to the misfortunes of the past two years.
These disasters include devastating floods in Belgium and Germany, wildfires in countries such as Italy and Greece, increasing extreme weather, warming oceans, greenhouse gas concentrations at record levels, receding glaciers, and an extensive list of other key climate-related indicators that are continuing to rise.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, all these disasters are related to climate change, so understanding the problem, finding solutions, and investing in ecological sustainability is paramount to prevent future disasters and promote adaptations for the future that awaits us.
As early as 1992, the European Commission created the LIFE Programme in response to the environmental disasters observed since the late 80s. The aim of this early iteration of the LIFE Programme was to contribute to the creation, implementation, updating, and development of EU climate and environmental policies.
So far, the programme has had 5 phases. For the 2021- 2027 period, the program is focused on contributing to and fulfilling the objectives of the European Green Deal, which include improving energy-efficiency, fostering a renewable energy-based- and climate-resilient economy, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, and deaccelerating and reversing biodiversity loss. Building on these commitments, the LIFE Program’s key objectives focus on sustainability and quality of life, climate change mitigation and adaptation, circular economy, nature and biodiversity, and clean energy transition. The Program has a budget of 5.43 billion EUR.
To achieve these goals, the programme supports projects that:
• Develop and demonstrate eco-innovative techniques and approaches
• Help to implement and enforce plans and strategies in compliance with EU legislation
• Promote best practices and behavioural changes
• Catalyse the large scale deployment of successful solutions
• Legislate and create policies to support the development, monitoring and enforcement to implement these solutions in EU Member States
Moreover, LIFE will also expand into four sub-programmes:
Sub-programme Nature and Biodiversity
A major part of the success to the LIFE programme comes from this sub-programme, as it contributes to reversing biodiversity loss, supports the Natura 2000 network and Prioritised Actions Frameworks (PAF), and mainstreams Nature and Biodiversity projects into other policies and financing programmes.
The projects that can be considered as winners are aimed to support nature conservation and restoration, taking initiatives for species protection, ecosystem restoration, invasive alien species; integrated implementation of PAF and Biodiversity Strategy; and with the focus in Overseas Countries and Territories, and Outermost Regions.
Sub-programme Circular Economy and Quality of Life
Unlike previous years, the programme is not just financing innovation and development projects, but also actions to achieve a green and circular economy, such as: reduce noise and air and chemicals pollution, and manage marine and coastal areas, soil, waste, water, and the urban environment.
To support these actions, successful projects will encourage the participation of public authorities and other stakeholders that are implementing EU environment legislation, research institutes that are developing technologies and solutions ready to be deployed in close-to-market conditions at industrial or commercial scale and companies and SMEs for close market projects. Also eligible for support are entities of any kind working in integrated projects in areas such as the circular economy, promoting upscaling and access to finance.
Sub-programme Climate Mitigation and Adaptation (CNEA)
This sub-programme has a strong connection with projects for the transformation of the EU into a climate-neutral and climateresilient society, especially through renewable energies and energy efficiency projects. On the one hand, projects must contribute significantly to the implementation of the 2030 energy and climate policy, the EU member States´ National Energy and Climate Plans and the European Union´s mid-century and long-term Climate and Energy Strategy. On the other, projects selected will be the ones carrying the national implementation of previous solutions that the EU has accepted as part of the Green Deal strategy.
Sub-programme Clean Energy Transition
This sub-programme is a new addition. Its aim is to favour to the creation of market and regulatory enabling conditions in the EU for the energy transition.
Actions that focus on the digitalisation of services, investment mobilisation, upskilling, the removal of market barrier, awareness raising, education, and boosting sustainable energy will be supported. The programme will prioritise facilitating already existing technologies for renewable energy and energy efficiency instead of new research and development. If your interest is more in R+D, then the Horizon Europe programme is probably a more relevant option.
FORMS OF FUNDING
In the past, the programme has allocated funding mostly through calls for proposals and to a lesser degree via procurement, prizes, and blended financing. However, the present programme will be grants-based only, with a distinction between Action Grants and Operating grants as follows:
1. Standard Action Projects
These action projects are aimed to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques, methods, and approaches of the solutions included in the 4 subprogrammes and for the development or implementation of new legislations.
2. Strategic Nature Projects (SNAPs)
Focuses on the implementation of the Prioritised Action Framework according to the Habitats Directive and other plans or strategies adopted at an international, national, regional, or multiregional level by nature and biodiversity authorities.
3. Strategic Integrated Projects
These projects can be divided into 2 main separate groups: the first one addresses any type of projects focused on circular economy, waste, and air pollution, at National or Regional levels; the second includes National or regional strategies to mitigate climate change and contributions to climate neutrality.
4. Operating grants for NGOs
As the name says, these actions are dedicated to NGOs and partnerships agreements or specific grants agreements.
5. Other action grants
Supports Actions for the transition to renewable energy and increased energy efficiency, breaking market barriers through capacity building, dissemination of information and knowledge, and awareness raising of policy-driven topics.
Each call delineates specific beneficiaries, but the programme itself is open to all types of entities–private enterprises, NGOs and civil society organizations as well as public authorities—who are working on how we can adapt to the future. Ultimately, the LIFE Programme is not just an environmental programme but also a green economy solution with the potential to generate employment and economic growth.
For more information on the LIFE Programme, check out our FUNDED Magazine V1-1.