New LIFE Integrated Projects in eight Member States will help them apply environment and climate laws on the ground to tackle challenges such as water scarcity, climate change, circular economy and biodiversity loss. LIFE funding will mobilise additional investments totalling EUR 2 billion, enabling Member States to use other EU funds as well as national funds and private-sector investment.
Europeans take the environment seriously – they know their quality of life depends on it. A recent survey showed that citizens worry most about the impact of climate change, air pollution and the growing amount of waste. The EU has put in place laws to safeguard our quality of life, but implementing environmental and climate legislation can be a challenge.
One euro from LIFE mobilises 20 euros from other funding sources. In addition to this remarkable leverage, LIFE Integrated Projects directly respond to concerns voiced by citizens about air and water quality and the impacts of climate change.
Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella
This is where Integrated Projects (IPs) funded under the LIFE programme for the environment and climate action come in. They help Member States comply with EU rules on nature, water, air, waste and climate action by increasing the impact of funding for plans developed at different levels and ensuring their long-term success.
Projects in Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Spain and Sweden are being supported by this new investment package.
The five nature-related projects include an initiative in Denmark that will create and test incentives for farmers to manage their land in a more environmentally friendly way. The goal is to make it financially attractive for farmers to graze their stock or harvest biomass from natural areas by developing high-value specialty products, sold at a premium.
Projects in Greece, Lithuania and Sweden will help to implement frameworks of priority actions for conservation. They will increase competent authorities’ capacity to draft and carry out site-management plans and species action plans, while integrating nature conservation into other sectors, such as forestry, agriculture and tourism.
A wide-ranging French project will map the state of marine habitats around mainland France and Corsica, ensuring that the management of marine protected areas is effective and transparent to those using the sea to make a living or for leisure.
Managing water well
Under the Water Framework Directive, EU Member States must draw up river-basin management plans so that water bodies remain in a good condition. Two new IPs will help put such plans into practice. One is taking place in Malta, where issues such as water scarcity, low rainfall and high population density make managing freshwater resources a challenge. The project will carry out water audits, invest in water treatment and encourage more reuse of water.
The Duero/Douro river basin straddles the border between Spain and Portugal. A new IP in this region, which is often affected by water scarcity, will enable better governance of water resources and greater public participation in water management. As a climate change hot spot, this river basin is an indicator of future changes across Europe. Thus, the project can be a test lab for adapting management of water resources.
Waste to wealth
Households in the French Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region produce a lot more waste than the national average. Supporting innovation in waste prevention and management will significantly reduce the amount of household waste going to landfill, in line with EU laws on waste. It will also boost the development of the circular economy in the region.
Energy efficiency and climate adaptation
In Belgium's old housing stock, homes are using 70 % more energy than the European average. A new IP which supports regional cooperation between Flanders and Wallonia will help to put into practice renovation and retrofitting policies to boost energy efficiency. More than 8 500 homes in five cities will be revamped, helping to put Belgium on the path to renovating all existing housing. This will contribute towards a 75-80 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and energy use by 2050.
By breaking down divisions between sectors and involving key stakeholders, a project in Navarre will serve as a model for other regions that have a climate change adaptation strategy but have not been able to put it into practice. Actions to help the Spanish region meet its 2030 climate change adaptation goals will include indicators for climate monitoring, as well as early-warning systems for river floods and emergencies involving waste-water treatment.
Since their introduction in 2014, there have been 25 IPs led by authorities in 14 Member States and involving actions in 18 countries. These projects are mobilising more than EUR 5 billion in complementary funding from other EU and national funds and the private sector to implement environment and climate policies.