In addition to the LIFE Programme’s annual conference, Green Week 2011 also saw a large number of LIFE stakeholders join together in Brussels on Thursday 25 May for the LIFE Nature and LIFE Environment Awards 2010. These were organised as a celebration of the 'Best' and the 'Best of the Best' LIFE project that were completed in 2010.
LIFE’s presence at Green Week 2011 was supported by the participation of a number of LIFE projects, including WEELABEX from Belgium, JULIA 2030 from Finland, Best4VarioUse from Germany, ROADTIRE from Greece, MEDAPHON from Hungary, COSMOS, OPERA and SOILCONS-WEB from Italy, plus Spain’s FENIX and RECYCLED PVB projects.
Fittingly, the LIFE Nature Awards 2010 was held alongside the events of Green Week in the European Commission's Charlemagne Building: as Head of Unit for the Programme’s LIFE Nature component, Angelo Salsi, reminded the audience that Green Week was inspired by the “LIFE Week” events of 1999, a fine example of the demonstration value of LIFE.
In all, 18 Nature projects were selected for recognition by the LIFE unit in 2010 – 12 'Best' projects (drawn from Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Spain and Sweden) and six 'Best of the Best' projects, which came from Germany (LIFE05 NAT/D/000057), Ireland (two projects - LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125 and LIFE05 NAT/IRL/000182), Portugal (LIFE06 NAT/P/000191), Spain (LIFE05 NAT/E/000058) and the UK (LIFE05 NAT/UK/000143).
The Best LIFE Environment Awards 2010 were held later the same day in the European Parliament as part of the “LIFE and our Environment: Success Stories and Future Challenges” conference. A total of 13 LIFE Environment projects were selected for recognition this year. These included nine 'Best' projects (coming from Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the UK) and four 'Best of the Best' projects – two from Italy (LIFE06 ENV/IT/000266 and LIFE06 ENV/IT/000254), one from Spain (LIFE06 ENV/E/000010), and one from Sweden (LIFE06 ENV/S/000517).
The award-winning projects were selected according to established key criteria that projects are scored against. These criteria include: projects’ contribution to immediate and long-term environmental, economic and social improvements; their degree of innovation and transferability; their relevance to policy; and their cost-effectiveness.
Representatives from the winning projects were told by Simon Goss, Communication Coordinator for the LIFE Units at DG Environment, “The work you've done shows how well you've spent your money and our money,” His praise was reinforced by Alban de Villepin of the LIFE Environment unit who added, “We are fully aware of the hard work involved in all the projects.”
A crucial point highlighted by several of the award-winning projects was the importance of linking projects to people in order to raise awareness, change perceptions and build partnerships. Or, as Oliver Schmidt-Formann of the 'Best of the Best' Lippe-Aue project memorably put it, “participation was the key to success...we brought the river to the public.”
All of the 'Best' and 'Best of the Best' projects will feature in one of two brochures to be published later this year: Best LIFE Nature Projects 2010 and Best LIFE Environment Projects 2010. Full lists of the award-winning projects can be seen at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/bestprojects/bestnat2010/index.htm and http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/bestprojects/bestenv2010/index.htm