During EU Green Week – Europe’s biggest environmental event – the LIFE programme announced the winners of the 2018 LIFE Awards. The three winners come from Italy (Nature category), Spain (Environment category), and Greece (Climate Action category).
Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Congratulations to the winners and finalists in these LIFE Awards! These exceptional projects show the value of investing to protect our environment and nature. The sustainable development of protected areas has a positive impact on species, habitats and biodiversity. It also creates rural jobs and connects people with their environment and heritage. Technological innovations from LIFE projects are helping to create circular economies for waste, cut air pollution, and improve access to clean water. LIFE delivers smart solutions that show the multiple benefits of implementing EU environment policy.”
Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy said: “These LIFE Climate Action projects show that relatively small investments in the right place can have a big impact. When replicated and transferred across Europe, they enable us to rise to the challenge of climate change. Making our energy networks more efficient and more cost effective is one part of the solution. Proving that new farming methods can help agriculture adapt to climate change is another. LIFE continues to be the testing ground for the innovations we need for our low carbon and climate resilient future.”
The LIFE Awards recognise the most innovative, inspirational and effective LIFE projects in the fields of nature protection, environment and climate action.
From 15 finalists, three exceptional projects have been selected as this year's LIFE Awards winners. The awards were presented by Mr Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate General for Environment, and Ms Yvon Slingenberg, Director of International Mainstreaming and Policy Coordination, Directorate General for Climate Action.
The winning projects were chosen for their contribution to environmental, economic and social improvements, paying special attention to their innovation, replicability, relevance to policy and cost effectiveness.
The other finalists were:
Following a selection by LIFE National Contact Points, 9 of the 15 finalists were shortlisted for the LIFE Citizen's Prize, voted for by the public. The winner of the LIFE Citizen's Prize is LIFE+ SMARTPV. The project connected around 300 solar panel owners on Cyprus in a decentralised power network, making solar power better value. The Cypriot authorities have extended the payment scheme used for the pilot network to all owners of solar panels in the country.
Two LIFEtime Achievement Awards were given to individuals in recognition of their significant long-term contribution to the work of the LIFE programme. Mr Bruno Julien was the first Head of “The LIFE Unit” within DG Environment, managing more than 800 projects during his tenure. During 24 years with the European Commission, he has also served as EU Ambassador to Australia.
Mr Miguel Ángel Simón Mata is a biologist who coordinated several LIFE projects to conserve the Iberian lynx population in Andalusia. These projects have made a significant contribution to an improvement in the conservation status of this species from 'critically endangered' to 'endangered' by the IUCN.
The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed about 5000 projects across the EU and in third countries. At any given moment some 1 100 projects are in progress. The budget for 2014–2020 is set at €3.4 billion in current prices and covers a sub-programme for environment and a sub-programme for climate action. For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission is proposing to increase funding by almost 60% for LIFE.
#EUGreenWeek 2019 is built around the findings of the Environmental Implementation Review. This is a set of reports published by the European Commission on the state of implementation of environmental laws in Europe. Environmental laws improve water and air quality, they protect nature, and they encourage recycling and waste management. But to really make an appreciable difference, these EU laws must be implemented in full.