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Programme: LIFE - Programme for the Environment and Climate Action

Programme
LIFE - Programme for the Environment and Climate Action
Acronym LIFE
Description of programme
"LIFE - Programme for the Environment and Climate Action"

The general objective of the LIFE Programme shall be to contribute to the shift towards a sustainable, circular, energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral and - resilient economy, in order to protect, restore and improve the quality of the environment, including the air, water and soil, and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and to tackle the degradation of ecosystems, including by supporting the implementation and management of the Natura 2000 network, thereby contributing to sustainable development. The LIFE Programme shall also support the implementation of general action programmes adopted in accordance with Article 192(3) TFEU.

Specific objectives of the LIFE Programme are:

  1. to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques, methods and approaches for reaching the objectives of Union legislation and policy on the environment, including nature and biodiversity, and on climate action, including the transition to renewable energy and increased energy efficiency, and to contribute to the knowledge base and to the application of best practice, in particular in relation to nature and biodiversity, including through the support of the Natura 2000 network;
  2. to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of relevant Union legislation and policy on the environment, including nature and biodiversity, and on climate action and the transition to renewable energy or increased energy efficiency, including by improving governance at all levels, in particular by enhancing the capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society;
  3. to act as a catalyst for the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions for implementing relevant Union legislation and policy on the environment, including nature and biodiversity, and on climate action and the transition to renewable energy or increased energy efficiency, by replicating results, by integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, by mobilising investment and by improving access to finance.

The LIFE Programme is structured as follows:

  1. the field ' Environment', which includes:
  • the subprogramme ' Nature and Biodiversity';
  • the subprogramme ' Circular Economy and Quality of Life';
  1. the field ' Climate Action', which includes:
  • the subprogramme ' Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation';
  • the subprogramme ' Clean Energy Transition'.
Link Link to Programme
Thematic Focus Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Administration & Governance
EU Macro-Regions
Adriatic and Ionian Region, Alpine Region, Baltic Sea Region, Danube Region
Funding area EU Member States
EEA Countries
Candidate Countries
Potential Candidate Countries
EU Neighbourhood Policy Countries
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
EEA Countries
Candidate Countries
Potential Candidate Countries
EU Neighbourhood Policy Countries
Project Partner No
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Public Services, NGO / NPO, Other, National Government, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

The LIFE Programme shall be open to the participation of the following third countries:

  1. members of the European Free Trade Association which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Agreement on the European Economic Area;
  2. acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates, in accordance with the general principles and general terms and conditions for the participation of those countries in Union programmes established in the respective framework agreements and Association Council decisions or in similar agreements and in accordance with the specific conditions laid down in agreements between the Union and those countries;
  3. European Neighbourhood Policy countries, in accordance with the general principles and general terms and conditions for the participation of those countries in Union programmes established in the respective framework agreements and Association Council decisions or in similar agreements and in accordance with the specific conditions laid down in agreements between the Union and those countries
  4. other third countries, in accordance with the conditions laid down in a specific agreement covering the participation of the third country in any Union programme, provided that the agreement:
  • ensures a fair balance as regards the contributions and benefits of the third country participating in the Union programmes;
  • lays down the conditions of participation in the programmes, including the calculation of financial contributions to individual programmes, and their administrative costs;
  • does not confer on the third country a decision-making power in respect of the Union programme;
  • guarantees the rights of the Union to ensure sound financial management and to protect its financial interests.
Type of Funding Grants
Contact Details https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/life/about-life/life-contacts_en

Subprogrammes of LIFE - Programme for the Environment and Climate Action

LIFE - sub-programme “Nature and Biodiversity”

The sub-programme “Nature and Biodiversity” will aim:

  • to develop, demonstrate, promote and stimulate the scale up of innovative techniques, methods and approaches (including nature-based solutions and ecosystem approaches) for reaching the objectives set out under the Union legislation and policy on or related to nature and biodiversity, and to contribute to the knowledge base and to the application of best practices, including through the support of the Natura 2000 network;
  • to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the relevant Union legislation and policy on or related to nature and biodiversity, including by improving governance at all levels, in particular through enhancing the capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society, also taking into due consideration the possible contributions provided by citizen science;
  • to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful solutions/approaches for implementing relevant Union legislation and policy on nature and biodiversity, by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance.

LIFE has been a key tool supporting the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives since 1992 and has been instrumental and, in some cases crucial, to ensure the establishment of the Natura 2000 network.

The Nature Directives' fitness check, the Action plan for nature, people, and the economy as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 20309 underline the need to increase funding for nature and biodiversity.

The sub-programme Nature and Biodiversity will contribute to European Union objectives for the protection, maintenance and restoration of the Union’s natural capital in its marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, as outlined in the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Bern Convention. In particular, it will contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, the Regulation on Invasive Alien Species as well as relevant objectives under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Water Framework Directive, and the European strategy for Outermost Regions.

The sub-programme for nature and biodiversity will mainly be implemented through the following types of actions:

  1. a continuation of the traditional bottom-up approach, aimed at implementing practicaland effective measures for the improvement of the conservation status of species and habitats, ecosystems’ health and related services, through the co-funding of StandardAction Projects (SAPs). All SAPs should be designed to achieve, as a direct outcome of their implementation, tangible improvements for species, habitats and ecosystems and related services, to be defined on the basis of specific and measurable (SMART) objectives. The overall focus of SAPs is on the following: (1) area-based conservation and restoration measures (“space for nature”) and (2) additional specific measures targeting species and ecosystems/habitats with measures other than area-based ones (“protecting/safeguarding our species andhabitats”);
  2. a continuation of the integrated approach for supporting the full implementation of national or regional Prioritized Action Frameworks (PAFs) and other EU biodiversity-policy-related planning instruments, through Strategic Nature Projects (SNAPs). SNAPs encompass capacity building and mainstreaming actions, including by mobilising other funding sources for nature and biodiversity. SNAPs may also include specific conservation actions, in particular where these cannot be supported through the mobilisation of additional finance from other EU funding programmes;
  3. a structured approach to support the implementation of specific policy priorities, through dedicated calls under “Other Actions” (OAs);
  4. Technical Assistance projects (TA).

The above types of actions can cover:

  • measures to promote and support area-based conservation and restoration (“space for nature”);
  • additional specific measures targeting species (“safeguarding our species”);
  • governance to facilitate behavioral change and/or change in practices, soil, land and water management, including in marine areas, as well as the conservation of natural resources, including by supporting the implementation of the European Biodiversity Strategy for 203020 and the up-coming European Forestry Strategy to mainstream biodiversity objectives in relevant sectors, to build up the capacity at all levels and to improve the knowledge basis on nature and biodiversity, including for monitoring, accounting and reporting, assessment and ex-post evaluation;
  • Environmental compliance assurance and access to justice.

The actions above will target, among others, the implementation of the EU Habitats and Birds Directive and the Invasive Alien Species Regulation, the reversing of the decline of pollinators, the restoration of degraded and carbon-rich ecosystems and the improvement of health and resilience of forests.


LIFE - sub-programme “Circular Economy and Quality of Life”

The specific objectives of the sub-programme “Circular Economy and Quality of Life” are:

  • to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques, methods and approaches for reaching the objectives of Union legislation and policy on environment, and to contribute to the knowledge base and, where relevant, to the application of best practices;
  • to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of relevant Union legislation and policy on environment, including by improving governance at all levels, in particular through enhancing capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society;
  • to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions for implementing relevant Union legislation and policy on environment, by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance.

This sub-programme aims at facilitating the transition toward a sustainable, circular, energy-efficient and climate-resilient economy, a toxic-free environment and at protecting, restoring and improving the quality of the environment. It will contribute to the relevant European Union priorities by:

  • reducing resource consumption and facilitating the transition toward a sustainable, circular, toxic-free, energy-efficient and climate-resilient environment;
  • developing circular systems, in line with the new Circular Economy Action Plan and reflecting its focus on sustainable products, material and energy intensive sectors and circular business models for value retention. Specific consideration will be given to projects from EU outermost regions and islands.
  • bringing down waste generation in line with the Waste Framework Directive and the reduction of hazardous waste in view of the EU’s commitment under the Basel Convention;
  • improving waste management with respect to the collection and storage of waste, recovery options and end-of-life disposal, including in islands, remote coastal or terrestrial areas, and Outermost Regions where waste management faces specific challenges;
  • reducing emissions of pollutants to air and seas, and ensuring clean air and seas for EU citizens in line with the EU acquis and the objectives of the zero pollution action plan;
  • achieving and maintaining a good status of the Union’s water bodies;
  • ensuring clean surface water and ground-water, in sufficient quantities for human and other species, including by increasing efficiency of water use;
  • reducing production, use and emissions of hazardous chemicals as well as reducing the exposure of humans and the environment to those chemicals;
  • promoting the development, commercialisation and uptake of safe and sustainable-by-design substances, materials and products;
  • diminishing exposure to harmful noise levels;
  • protecting the quality of EU soil, preventing soil degradation and increasing resilience of soils to climate threats and combat desertification through sustainable practices of soil and land management, remediating from soil pollution and enhancing the capacity to improve water quality through reduced nitrate leakage and to reduce emissions through carbon storage and preventing and mitigating soil sealing.

The available budget will be used to finance mainly SAPs, Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) and OAs focusing on the following:

  • Circular economy, including recovery of resources from waste, to accelerate the transition towards a circular, climate-neutral sustainable and toxic-free environment, where:
    • the value of products, materials and resources is maximised and maintained in the economy for as long as possible;
    • the manufacture and use of products is sustainable and;
    • the generation of waste and the presence of harmful substances is minimised.

This includes actions on products which are safe and sustainable by design, on circularand sustainable production and consumption as well as actions to increase repair, reuse,remanufacturing and recycling of materials and products. It includes sustainabletechnologies, tools and approaches that are developed within the Sustainable BlueEconomy scope, such as the improved recyclability of offshore renewable energyinfrastructures or repair/reuse of fishing nets and fisheries/aquaculture by-products (e.g.fish scales, shells, etc.).

It contains also actions to support the development of circular economy business models and shorter and more diversified supply chain systems that minimise environmental impact and reduce external dependency. These should be based on comprehensive measures targeting the whole life-cycle of products and materials.

On recovery of resources from waste, it comprises actions in line with the waste hierarchy to prevent waste, to increase product repair and reuse, to improve sorting and decontamination of waste streams, and to increase safe and high-quality recycling of materials and products on the basis of robust and widespread separate collection systems.

In light of their high resource use and their circularity potential, key product value chains such as textiles, chemicals (including plastics), construction and buildings, electronics and information and communication technologies (ICT), and batteries and vehicles, will receive specific attention with actions to be implemented in all stages of the relevant life cycles and involving all relevant stakeholders.

  • Environment and health: sustainable management based on long term protection of natural resources and raw materials, environmental friendly production of goods and provision of services with a view to eliminating, preventing or minimising the adverse effects and negative impacts on the health and well-being of Union citizens, and improving the quality of their lives, as well as on the environment and its marine andterrestrial ecosystems, including:
    • Water and seas. The protection and improvement of groundwater and surface water quality and the prevention and elimination of water and marine pollutants in view of achieving and maintaining a good chemical and ecological status of all the Union’s water bodies, including wetlands, the marine environment, and the active safeguard of water quantity as well as the reduction of all the related pressures;
    • Air & Noise. The protection of air and the improvement of air quality through theprevention and/or reduction of air pollutants and noise, especially in the urbanenvironment;
    • Soil. The restoration, remediation, protection and improvement of soil health, within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to provide ecosystem services, in particular to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and habitats and to prevent soil loss;
    • Chemicals management. A more sustainable use of chemicals substances and mixtures, on their own and in articles and final products (including e.g. pesticides, fertilisers, antimicrobials and nanomaterials), better information on chemical content of final products, accidents prevention and related informed purchase, including fostering the interlink of chemicals risk management, circularity of materials and climate change.
  • Environment governance projects to incentive behavioural change, which will support the implementation of the European Green Deal, capacity building at all levels, including for civil society, mainstreaming environmental objectives, circular and resource efficiency actions in relevant sectors, improvement of the knowledge base on the environment, including the greening of investments, environment monitoring, accounting and reporting and contributing to policy monitoring, assessment and ex-post evaluation.
  • The New European Bauhaus (NEB) overarching initiative. This will be an environmental, economic and cultural project to combine design, sustainability, accessibility and affordability in order to help deliver the European Green Deal. This initiative will consider as well nature and biodiversity elements.

LIFE - sub-programme “Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation”

The specific objectives of the sub-programme “Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation” are:

  • to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques, methods and approaches for reaching the objectives of Union legislation and policy on climate action and to contribute to the knowledge base and to the application of best practices;
  • to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of relevant Union legislation and policy on climate action, including by improving governance at all levels, in particular through enhancing capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society;
  • to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions for implementing relevant Union legislation and policy on climate action by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance.

The LIFE Programme will contribute to the transformation of the Union into a climate-neutral and resilient society, by supporting the implementation of the EU's climate policy as part of the European Green Deal and preparing the EU for the climate challenges in the coming years and decades.

Its areas of intervention will be the following:

  • Climate Change Mitigation
    • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, including fluorinated greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances, in line with the EU’s climate neutrality target and the improvement of energy efficiency, including addressing the policy and market framework for the development and deployment of low-carbon or energy efficient products and services, as well as by promoting the transition of the transport sector.
    • Enhancing the functioning of the Emissions Trading System.
    • Support to sustainable land, forest, soil, sea and ocean management practices, which reduce emissions or remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
    • Develop and promote solutions to remove/sequester CO2 from the atmosphere. Carbon capture and carbon removals can be nature-based and coupled with restoration projects or rely on storage in specific long–term media or use of long-lasting products.
  • Climate Change Adaptation
    • Support adaptation related policy development, and improve adaptation strategies and plans at all levels and in all sectors, in line with the new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change;
    • Improve, promote, and scale up the use of state-of-the art tools and solutions for adaptation modelling, risk assessment, management and decision support; adaptation monitoring, reporting and evaluation; and ex-ante project assessment tools to better identify co-benefits and positive impacts on the economy of adaptation and prevention projects;
    • Support the rollout of viable nature-based solutions in the management of land, coastal and marine areas including through assessments, guidance, capacity building, and suitable financial approaches and products;
    • Approaches and solutions for adapting cities and regions to climate change, notably in support of the EU and Global Covenant of Mayors and of the European Climate Pact;
    • Approaches and solutions to ensure a stable and secure supply of high quality freshwater, prevent droughts, reduce water use, protect and restore wetlands, and prevent floods;
    • Solutions to climate-proof and enhance the resilience of infrastructure and buildings, including by using blue-green infrastructure and through cooperation with standardisation organisations;
    • Support preparedness for extreme weather events, notably at a local level and in the outermost regions;
    • Promote financial instruments and innovative solutions to deal with climate-induced risks, and public-private collaboration to reduce the share of uninsured climate-related economic losses, including by improving collection and access to climate-related economic loss data.
  • Climate Change Governance and Information, which will include actions contributing to climate change mitigation or adaptation:
    • Incentivise changes in behaviour and practices, as well as improving citizens’ knowledge and awareness, notably through the support of the implementation of the European Climate Pact, mainstreaming emission reduction and resource efficiency actions in relevant sectors;
    • Development and implementation of climate and energy strategies or mid-century strategies at local, regional and national level;
    • Improve greenhouse gas monitoring, accounting and reporting and contribute to policy monitoring, assessment and ex-post evaluation;
    • Information on best practices and awareness raising on climate change mitigation and adaptation, including on climate-proofing of infrastructure investment and policies;
    • Development of climate services and promotion of climate science;
    • Development and promotion of sustainable finance instruments and support for climate diplomacy.

The sub-programme Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation may cover activities related to energy efficiency and renewable energy, as far they are not covered by the Clean Energy Transition sub-programme calls in that same year.


LIFE - sub-programme “Clean Energy Transition”

The specific objectives of the sub-programme "Clean Energy Transition" are the following:

  • to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques, methods and approaches for reaching the objectives of Union legislation and policy on the transition to sustainable renewable energy and increased energy efficiency, and to contribute to the knowledge base and to the application of best practice;
  • to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of relevant Union legislation and policy on the transition to sustainable renewable energy or increased energy efficiency, including by improving governance at all levels, in particular through enhancing capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society;
  • to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions for implementing relevant Union legislation on the transition to renewable energy or increased energy efficiency by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance.

This sub-programme will fund the activities responding to the specific topics defined in the annual calls for proposals which are based on the list of priority topics. Other activities related to energy efficiency and renewable energy, which do not address the specific requirements of the calls defined under this sub-programme can be submitted to the calls under the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation sub-programme.

The sub-programme will aim at facilitating the transition toward an energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral and -resilient economy by funding coordination and support actions across Europe. These actions aim at breaking market barriers that hamper the socio-economic transition to sustainable energy, typically engaging multiple small and medium-size stakeholders, multiple actors including local and regional public authorities and non-profit organisations, and involving consumers.

The sub-programme will contribute to the implementation of the energy-related actions of the European Green Deal, including the ‘Renovation wave’ initiative for the building sector and will give due consideration to territories not connected to the European grids such as the EU outermost regions. It will contribute to the Just Transition objectives by accompanying the territories and the groups of citizens negatively affected by the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, by building capacity of actors and fostering clean energy investments, mainly in energy efficiency and locally available, sustainable, renewable energy sources. Activities related to technology development will not be included.

A significant part of this budget will be used to finance Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) under OAs grants for the four year period, whereas the possibility to finance SAPs is only foreseen as from 2023.

It will cover the following areas of intervention:

  • Building a national, regional and local policy framework supporting the clean energy transition:

Increasing coherence of energy transition governance at different levels by enhancing multi-stakeholder dialogue and building the capacity of public authorities to deliver under the national energy and climate plans and/or other plans and strategies (e.g. just transition plans, long-term renovation strategies, strategies for the electrification of the transport system). Supporting the development and effective implementation of clean energy policies, including the relevant Union legislation on products and energy consumers, in the EU and third countries. Supporting actions that put into practice the enabling provisions included in the European legislation on clean energy.

  • Accelerating technology roll-out, digitalisation, new services and business models and enhancement of the related professional skills on the market for the clean energy transition:

Providing support for the decarbonisation of the buildings, industry and tertiary sectors, by fostering market uptake of innovative solutions, including digitalization and circular design in line with the climate neutrality target. Accelerating the clean energy transition by enabling the development of new added-value services and innovative business models. The roll-out of technologies and innovative solutions needs to be accompanied by measures addressing market barriers including support to the development and deployment of new skills and frameworks (labels, certificates, technological and non-technological standards, e.g. for interoperability, etc.).

  • Attracting private finance for sustainable energy:

To upscale investments in sustainable energy, different capital flows need to be made available by addressing both supply and demand of finance, and by using public funds effectively. Supply side activities include: data collection, methodology and evidence-based risk management; harmonisation of definition and measuring of sustainable investments; development of innovative financing mechanisms, products, services and practices; standardisation and aggregation of projects and investments; simplification of the process for investors; capacity building and dialogue. Activities should contribute to EU policy and legislation in the field of sustainable finance.

  • Supporting the development of local and regional investment projects:

Build capacity of local public authorities and private investors, notably community collective investors. Facilitate dialogue with the financial sector to deliver sustainable energy investments, including tailored actions contributing to a fair society and to a just energy transition in EU regions most dependent on fossil fuels or carbon intensive processes. Promote public procurement of energy and resource efficient works, supplies and services. Support tailored approaches for local actors to develop investment concepts, implement organisational innovations and aggregate projects. Improve market conditions and develop new integrated services offers for sustainable energy in buildings, transport, ports, and SMEs.

  • Involving and empowering citizens in the clean energy transition:

Support citizens in taking an active role in the clean energy transition, including targeted support for collective actions, community and citizen-led initiatives and development of new energy services and social innovations. Strengthen collaboration between local authorities and citizen-led initiatives. Support actions that contribute to alleviate energy poverty. Foster energy literacy and sustainable energy behaviour of citizens, in particular younger generations.


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