Today at theEU Green Week, Europe’s biggest environmental event, the winners of the 2021 LIFE Awards were announced by the EU’s LIFE programme. This years’ Awards honoured winners in three different categories from the Slovak Republic (Nature), Spain (Environment), and France (Climate Action). The public also voted for their favourite project in the Citizen’s Award, and the work and dedication of young volunteers were recognised in the LIFE4Youth Award.
The LIFEAwards recognise the most innovative, inspirational and effective LIFE projects in three categories: nature protection, environment and climate action. An expert jury looked at the15 finalists and chose the three winners, who all demonstrated an outstanding contribution to environmental, economic and social developments. They also showed excellence in impact, replicability, policy relevance, cross-border cooperation and cost-effectiveness.
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal said:
The climate and biodiversity crises are more present than ever, but this year’s LIFE project finalists provide hope and inspiration for future solutions. Conserving natural habitats and protecting wildlife are essential to our green recovery and our journey to climate neutrality.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries said:
I would like to congratulate all the LIFE Awards 2021 finalists and winners. LIFE projects are a stellar example of people working together each and every day to address the most pressing global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss. LIFE projects combine technology, innovation, expertise, cooperation, but above all lots of dedication to deliver smart solutions. I wish you all continued success.
LIFE Award for Nature
In the Slovak Republic, the LIFE ENERGY team put a stop to many birds colliding with power lines. They installed 8 600 bird flight diverters along 77 km of the most dangerous areas. These diverters protect 700 birds from collisions every year. The team also planted 550 trees to enhance existing wind breaks, helping the birds to see power lines better.
LIFE Award for Environment
The team behind LIFE REUSING POSIDONIA used dried seagrass as effective and inexpensive thermal insulation in 14 social housing units for poor and disadvantaged people on the Balearic island of Formentera, Spain. This local, traditional and environmentally friendly construction method reduced emissions by 60%, cut energy use by 75%, and water by another 60%.
LIFE Award for Climate Action
LIFE FORECCAsT helped forest managers in France’s Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park put in place climate change adaptation strategies. They built a mobile application to help foresters assess and manage the risks to their land. And 25 sites tested climate-resilient tree species and forest management practices that use less water.
The other 12 finalists were:
- LIFE-GREEN4GREY Green and blue infrastructure enhancing biodiversity and curbing climate change
- LIFE ElClimA An improved habitat and existence for the Eleonora’s falcon
- Lille Vildmose Restoring the largest raised bog in lowland northwest Europe
- TARTALIFEPreventing sea turtles from getting caught up in fishing nets
- Hg-rid-LIFE Reducing poisonous mercury emissions from dental clinics
- LIFE+ INADAR Boosting biodiversity on riverbanks near hydropower stations
- LIFE Impetus Reducing pharmaceutical compounds from urban wastewater treatment plants
- LIFE TRiFOCAL LondonCommunications campaign to prevent food waste, promote healthy eating and encourage food waste recycling
- LIFE - CLEAN HEAT Reducing emissions like soot and smoke coming from private wood burning
- LIFE ADAPT2CLIMA Helping Mediterranean farmers to adapt to climate change
- LIFE FRANCA Making the shift from flood response to flood prevention in the Italian Alps
- Life LowCarbon Feed Producing two new goat feeds from food waste
LIFE Citizens’ Prize
LIFE Citizens’ Prize, where the public got to vote for their preferred project online, was awarded to TARTALIFE project. The team helped to reduce the numbers of sea turtles being caught up in fishing nets along 15 Italian coastal areas. They encouraged 1 290 local fishermen to use circular hooks instead of traditional sharper ones. This reduced the number of sea turtles being caught by up to 40%. Also, nearly one million tourists were targeted through 6 000 events, boosting awareness of the challenges the sea turtle faces.
Volunteers play a vital role in LIFE projects. They enable activities that would otherwise not be possible. They also involve society in conservation activities that lead to greater public awareness, trust, and ownership of the entire process. Italy’s Choose Nature (Choo-na!) project saw more than 300 young volunteers from the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) going on field missions from August 2017 to August 2019. Their objective was to take care of 11 endangered bird species like the stork, golden eagle, Kentish plover, Lanner falcon and lesser kestrel. These volunteers worked alongside scientists, professionals and other experts, gaining experience that will surely stand them in good stead in the future. These experiences have changed career paths and perspectives while saving the lives of many bird species.
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 5 500 projects across the EU and in third countries. At any given moment, some 1 100 projects are taking place on the ground. The budget for 2021–2027 is set at €5.4 billion in current prices. This is 60% more than the previous period. €3.5 billion will go to environmental projects and the remaining €1.9 billion will be allocated to those on climate action. LIFE has four sub-programmes: nature and biodiversity, circular economy and quality of life, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and clean energy transition.
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