Better Funding - Draft Action F3: A new LIFE for urban adaptation projects

  • Ivana (Communic... profile
    Ivana (Communic...
    14 June 2018 - updated 9 months ago
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Bottleneck summary

The contribution of Existing EU Policies/Legislations/Instruments

Actions Needed

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Bottleneck summary

Local authorities often lack in-house capacity required to tackle climate change adaptation and this may result in poor adaptation projects, failing to pass the selection process, or not delivering their intended climate resilience benefits or not being implemented at all. Local authorities are often confronted with a number of problems: (1) challenges in identifying climate risks and vulnerabilities; (2) difficulties in prioritising adaptation projects/activities in relation to climate resilience objectives contained in strategic documents; (3) insufficient size of adaptation projects and need to bundle them in order to get sufficient critical mass; (4) difficulties in identifying the most appropriate TA and project funding sources depending on the characteristics of the project (size, sector, scope and volume of funding needed)

Cities face difficulties in accessing LIFE funding, including (but not only) for their adaptation projects, mainly for these reasons:

  1. The 55% (since 2018) co-financing by LIFE constitutes a barrier for cities of all sizes, to access funding and implementing the projects. Integrating different type of funds (i.e. H2020, URBACT, ERDF) to provide the remaining 45% remains a challenge as well.
  2. Many of the LIFE calls are complex, with timetables and conditions that can be different depending on the calls and the one-stage process for climate adaptation projects does not leave much time for cities to apply. 
  3. Further promotion could be done at national level to inform cities about the funding programmes and the necessity to work on climate adaptation, in particular with the Covenant of Mayors.
  4. There is no Technical Assistance support specifically targeting cities to support them in the preparation of their climate adaptation projects (only for Member states or Regions to prepare integrated projects).
  5. National ministries or regions are not always aware of LIFE projects submitted by cities and their outcomes.

This leads to a low quality of applications submitted to get LIFE funding, and to many cities not being able to submit applications.

NOTE: Bottlenecks addressed: 4, 6, 7, 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28 (See the Annex F on the Draft Action Plan)

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The Contribution of Existing EU Policies/Legislations/Instruments

LIFE Climate Action supports projects on climate adaptation, selected through a one-stage application process and a 55% co-funding. LIFE Integrated Projects provide funding for plans, programmes and strategies on climate adaptation, but developed on the regional, multi-regional or national level. TA in LIFE is aimed at (1) projects implementing specific environmental or climate action plans on a large territorial scale, this is not suitable for cities which operate at smaller territorial scales; (2) projects in the areas of nature, waste, air and climate change mitigation and adaptation - where adaptation is less known compared to other areas of interest; (3) the preparation of a future project proposal that targets an eligible action plan, strategy or roadmap, hence strongly linked with the project funding.

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Actions Needed

Three streams of action are needed:

  1. Identify good practices of member states or regions working effectively with cities on urban adaptation using LIFE funding. In some countries National, Regional or supra municipal governments assume part of the co-financing needed in LIFE. In some other countries, the Ministry for Environment contracts an association to support project developers, including in municipalities, and helps them apply to LIFE projects (inter alia). Such practices should be encouraged and disseminated in the EU. This can be through support to develop project proposals); co-funding; development of integrated projects that involve or benefit cities; or targeted technical assistance provided by national/regional authorities.
  2. Disseminate those good practices across the EU by making them available to cities, regions and ember states, through city networks and initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors, in national languages when possible.
  3. Convey cities’ feedback on the LIFE programme to the European Commission and make concrete suggestions to improve access of cities to LIFE programme, feeding in the final evaluation of the LIFE regulation 2014-2020, expected in 2020 (the mid-term evaluation was released in November 2017). Concrete suggestions could include the improvement of technical assistance, specifically targeting the development of urban adaptation projects under the “traditional project call” and the “integrated project” call (An alternative option could also be, after the first stage is passed, to provide the project partners with a lump sum to developed further the project with the support of technical experts i.e. URBACT projects).

Implementation: Two strands of actions in parallel:

  • Review of good practices on collaboration between national ministries and cities on LIFE (desk research)
  • Organisation of a European workshop on LIFE, inviting national ministries to present how they support cities to access LIFE funding possibly back to back with an existing city event to maximise participation
  • Organisation of national dialogues between national ministries, regions and cities on better cooperation on LIFE funding for urban adaptation in national languages. Expected long-term outcome at national level: Established dialogues in place between national ministries or regions, and cities, to reinforce awareness and when possible, support cities’ access and use of LIFE funding for urban adaptation projects
  • Gap analysis reviewing where improvements to the existing TA facilities are necessary, in addition to those already identified. Based on previously identified bottlenecks, the new TA facility could provide: (1) Focus on small local projects which may or may not become bankable; (2) Depending on resources available, provision of adaptation specialists speaking the local language who would work with the municipality for a certain amount of time (1-2 years) in order to help cities (a) build internal capacity, (b) plan specific adaptation measures and (c) create resilience strategies. The specialist would be able to assist cities in numerous tasks, as adaptation measures are usually not stand-alone projects; (3) Streamlining of procurement procedures.
  • Gap analysis reviewing application procedures and timeframes, co-financing thresholds, language barriers, etc.

Funding Sources and Needs: Use of partners’ own resources, collaboration with the Covenant of Mayors, use of the TAIEX-EIR peer-to-peer instrument to fund national dialogues.

Implementation Risks:

  • Risk of low attendance of European expert workshop on LIFE –mitigated through organising the workshop back-to-back with an existing event
  • Risk of low uptake of national dialogue by National ministries and other sub-national authorities – mitigated through commitment of one/two ministries in France and Poland, who will inspire their colleagues
  • Risk of little feedback from cities (and other stakeholders) on the LIFE programme – mitigated through use of networks such as EUROCITIES and the Covenant of Mayors

Responsible Institution: EUROCITIES

Contributing Institutions: EIB, French Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, Polish Ministry of Environment tbc, Potenza tbc, Genova tbc, Province of Barcelona tbc, EASME, DG CLIMA, Covenant of Mayors office

Intermediary Deadlines: 

  • 02.2019 Good practice review on multi-level coordination
  • 09.2019 Gap analysis on LIFE TA, procedure, etc.
  • 12 2019 European workshop
  • 06.2020 At least one national dialogue
  • 2021 New TA facility

Indicators of Completion: 

  • 1 European workshop completed with attendance of at least 25 participants;
  • At least 3 (tbc depending final number of contributing institutions) national dialogues completed by June 2020;
  • Final evaluation of LIFE regulation 2014-2020 reflecting cities’ bottlenecks;
  • List of concrete suggestions to overcome those bottlenecks

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See also:


  • Draft Action R1Revision of urban development and planning regulation tools, focusing on national, regional and local climate adaptation actions  
  • Draft Action R2Further involvement of national municipality associations and Covenant of Mayors as key facilitators and supporters of local authorities


  • Draft Action F1Guidelines and toolkits for adaptation economic analysis
  • Draft Action F2Recommendations for the Ops of the ERDF in order to improve access for municipalities
  • Draft Action F3A new LIFE for urban adaptation projects
  • Draft Action F4Further support for the drafting of local adaptation plans


  • Draft Action K1Improving data accessibility for EU Municipalities in the framework of COPERNICUS
  • Draft Action K2Enhancing the urban content of Climate-ADAPT
  • Draft Action K3Political training academy on climate adaptation
  • Draft Action K4Enhancing citizen and stakeholder involvement at regional and local levels for climate adaptation agendas
  • Draft Action K5Promote open access on insurance data for climate risk management

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