Clean air, biodiversity protection, and waste management: here are the LIFE projects in 11 EU countries

By GIULIA TORBIDONI(@torbidonigiulia)

Projects for clean air, nature conservation, waste management. These are just a few examples of the projects, integrated into the framework of the Life program of the European Union, in which the European Commission has decided to invest over 110 million euros. The projects were selected after a call for proposals and will be developed in 11 EU countries: the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovenia. The Commission specified that “they contribute to a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and support the objectives of the European Green Deal to make the EU climate-neutral and make it a zero-pollution continent by 2050”. Furthermore, “they represent examples of actions aimed at achieving the main objectives of the European Green Deal in the context of the EU strategy on biodiversity for 2030 and the EU action plan for the circular economy”. Integrated projects allow Member States to pool other EU funding sources as well, including agricultural, structural, regional, and research funds, as well as national funding and private sector investment. Overall, the European Commission expects the 11 projects to attract over € 10 billion in complementary funds.

 

Source for the photo: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/photo/P-045696~2F00-21

 

What is it about?

The projects range from nature conservation to the field of clean air; from waste management to mitigation and adaptation to climate change; from energy efficiency to the circular economy; from the protection of coasts and marine environments to renewable energy.

More in detail.

In Cyprus, the Life Environment integrated project will be developed, which concerns agricultural waste, urban waste, packaging waste, and plastic waste, waste recycling, to try to remove waste from the landfill. Cyprus has one of the highest levels of municipal waste per capita in the EU. Most of it goes to landfills, with less than 20% recycled. Several factors prevent the country from meeting the EU landfill directive and the objectives of the circular economy action plan. These include the lack of infrastructure and collection systems for recyclable and biodegradable waste. The Department of Environment of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Environment of Cyprus intend to address the problem with the Life-Ip CYzero Waste project. The measures will include the separate collection of organic waste in 50 rural, semi-rural and urban areas and the improvement of the collection of dry recyclable materials, such as paper and metal cans, by establishing 20 green kiosks. Seven cities will have reuse/repair centers and a network of reuse shops. In addition, some “pay-as-you-throw” schemes will be presented which, together with the introduction of a landfill tax, should encourage the transition to a more circular economy.

In the Czech Republic, the integrated Life Climate project will be developed, for energy efficiency and saving, renewable energies, to improve climate resilience in the Moravian-Silesian region. The Czech Republic is taking steps to combat climate change through its national adaptation strategy and action plan. However, further action is needed at the regional and local levels. The Moravian-Silesian Region is the only Czech region with a climate change adaptation strategy. The authorities are keen to implement this strategy successfully through this integrated project. The aim is to increase the climate resilience of the region, improve the environment of the inhabitants and support sustainable development. More than 15 pilot and demonstration projects will be implemented, serving as examples of good practice for other regions and cities in the Czech Republic and beyond. The adaptation strategy of the Moravian-Silesian region will also be updated and adaptation plans will be approved for cities with a population greater than 10,000. At least 20 public buildings will be upgraded, reducing greenhouse gas (Ghg) emissions by 30%. In addition, 20 municipalities will implement rainwater management and urban greening measures. Support for other training projects and the creation of specialized consultancy centers are foreseen.

In Denmark, the Integrated Life Environment project will be set up, for energy efficiency and the circular economy, to transform more waste into resources. The Danish waste management sector is fragmented and implemented through 98 local waste management plans. This reduces the potential for creating high-quality homogeneous fractions of sufficient volume for the effective commercialization of secondary raw materials. In addition, large amounts of waste are incinerated for energy rather than recycled. This integrated project aims to implement the Danish action plan for the circular economy. The three main objectives of the project are greater waste prevention, circular waste management to transform more waste into secondary resources, and a better regulatory framework for waste. The project coordinator, the Central Denmark Region Administration, will integrate circularity principles into public procurement and demonstrate to businesses how the circular economy can be implemented in practice. The team also wants to identify and overcome regulatory barriers to the circular transition and test reuse stations and new business models.

In Estonia, there will be space for the integrated Life Climate project, for energy efficiency and saving, construction, urban adaptation, and the circular economy, for smart and resilient building renovations. The EU requires member states to implement comprehensive renovation programs on existing buildings to achieve an energy-efficient building stock. Estonia requires rapid rates of such refurbishment due to the poor construction quality and energy performance of its buildings. The project, led by the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, will help meet the EU’s targets for the energy performance of buildings and implement Estonia’s so-called “long-term renovation strategy” for buildings. The project team will demonstrate technical solutions and pilot renovations in 25 buildings in three cities across a range of building types. These include multi-story condominiums, single-family homes, and historic buildings. Various tools and solutions will be created for the deep refurbishment of these types of buildings, which can be replicated throughout Estonia.

In Finland, the integrated Life Environment project will be set up, for the management and protection of the marine and coastal environment, governance, and information, in order to safeguard biodiversity in the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea off the coast of Finland is under increasing pressure from human activities. The project will improve the implementation of EU policies mentioning the country’s marine protected areas. Its actions will mitigate the negative effects of human activities on land and at sea that threaten marine and coastal biodiversity, habitats, and critical species. The project team, coordinated by Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland, will identify the human pressures that impact the marine environment the most and generate the information needed for effective mitigation measures, benefiting the habitats and species that most urgently need conservation action. . They will monitor biodiversity in protected marine areas, safeguard the maritime archaeological heritage, will limit underwater noise, reduce marine litter and improve the management of the national network of Marine Protected Areas (AMPs).

In France, the integrated Life Environment project will be developed, for ecological coherence, urban biodiversity, natural resources and ecosystems, governance, and information, to reverse the decline of biodiversity in the Grand Est region (Biodiv’Est). The Grand Est region of France has many different landscapes and a high level of biodiversity. However, both are being lost due to the fragmentation of ecosystems, water and air pollution, and the spread of invasive alien species. The Biodiv’Est project will help reverse this trend by implementing programs in natural areas and engaging with the public, land users, and actors from various economic sectors. The project team, coordinated by the Grand Est Regional Council, will improve local governance in natural areas, increase biodiversity awareness across civil society, improve actions on the ground with a skilled workforce and identify innovative solutions to protect biodiversity. . Planned actions include the creation of 10 new nature reserves and three pilot forest areas to test forestry measures and develop climate-resilient lawn seed mixes. The team also plans to introduce innovative financial means to reward the delivery of environmental services.

In Latvia, the integrated Life Environment project will have space, for the circular economy, efficient waste management, resource efficiency, governance, and information, to achieve more recycling for less waste and landfills. In Latvia, higher recycling rates for municipal solid waste and packaging waste must meet the 2025 targets set in the country’s national waste management plan (2021-2028). However, the current poor quality of separately collected waste jeopardizes its further recycling and use. In addition, the separate collection of biodegradable waste must take place in all Latvian municipalities by the end of 2023. The country’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development aims to reduce waste production through this Integrated Project. They will implement the measures of the National Waste Management Plan to achieve this goal. In particular, it is planned to improve the separate collection of waste and the upcycling and reuse of municipal waste. They also want to better recycle packaging waste and divert biodegradable and recyclable waste from landfills. Thanks to the project, nearly 23,000 tons of waste per year, more than double the weight of the Eiffel Tower, will avoid being sent to landfills.

In Lithuania, the integrated Life Climate project will have space, for energy efficiency and energy saving, to achieve more energy efficiency and less GHG ground gas emissions. Lithuania has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40% by 2030. The National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) outlines how the country intends to reduce emissions and increase efficiency energy. The plan states that the industry, construction, and transport sectors have the greatest potential for improving energy efficiency. The Environmental Project Management Agency, part of the Lithuanian Ministry of the Environment, will contribute to the implementation of the NECP through this integrated project. The team wants to galvanize energy efficiency measures and build national and regional capacities to meet climate goals. This will help the country’s transport, construction and industry sectors meet energy efficiency targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks to this integrated project, Lithuania should see more sustainable and efficient buildings, climate-friendly mobility, an energy-saving industry, and green public procurement.

In the Netherlands, the integrated Life Climate project will be implemented, for resilient communities, governance, and information, for better resilience and adaptation to climate change. Much of the Netherlands is subject to large-scale coastal and river flooding, while climate change is expected to significantly affect its agricultural and horticultural production. In addition, the Dutch National Climate Adaptation Strategy has identified several impacts of climate change that require immediate action. With this Integrated Life Project, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management aims to stimulate adaptation to climate change in various areas: water management, infrastructure, agriculture, nature, health, spatial planning, and urban planning. The team will accelerate the implementation of the National Climate Adaptation Strategy and help make the Netherlands climate-resilient through measures such as demonstrations, pilot projects, and the development of best practices. Thousands of people are expected to benefit from increased resilience to floods and heat stress. Several Natura 2000 sites of protected areas are expected to improve their conservation status. Furthermore, the national climate adaptation strategy will be updated by 2027 with the help of the knowledge and experience gained from this project.

In Poland, the Life Environment integrated project will be carried out, regarding atmospheric pollutants and air quality monitoring, to improve air quality in Silesia. Silesia is the most industrialized region in Poland and has one of the worst air qualities in the country and in Europe. Although the industry is a significant source of air pollution, the largest contributor to emissions is the household and municipal sectors. This Integrated Project will oversee the efficient and effective implementation of the Air Quality Plan (Aqp) adopted by the Silesian Regional Assembly in 2020. The project team, coordinated by the Silesian Voivodeship, will implement measures to improve the quality of the air. general air by replacing solid fuel domestic heating devices with less polluting alternatives. In addition, they will enhance institutional capacity, demonstrate tools and actions that can strengthen the implementation of the QPA, and establish a regional advisory support system and information platform to raise awareness of solutions to improve air quality.

In Slovenia, the Life Environment integrated project will be implemented for the circular economy, waste, resource efficiency, governance, and information, to improve Slovenia’s circular economy. Several barriers to achieving EU waste recycling targets in Slovenia have been identified, including a lack of coherent legislation, insufficient recycling capacity, and poor social acceptance of recycling processes and resulting products. The project will help overcome these obstacles. The project team, led by the Ministry of the Environment and Territorial Planning, will implement a series of complementary technical, digital, environmental, and circular solutions to achieve maximum material self-sufficiency and greater circularity in the resource enhancement sector. They will demonstrate six circular solutions for problematic and bulky waste streams and ensure wide dissemination of the solutions to achieve a coherent and integrated implementation of national waste management and prevention objectives. By 2030, the project’s approach is expected to reduce waste by 60% through recycling and achieve a recycling rate of 50% of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste. The team also wants to achieve a 70% recycling rate for municipal waste and reduce Co2 emissions by 20% by improving waste collection, treatment and disposal activities, and recovering materials.

 

“There is no time to waste in addressing the climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises. The LIFE program provides direct support to projects across the EU and allows entire countries and regions to protect and restore nature”, commented the executive vice president of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans. “Nature is our greatest ally and we must take care of it so that it can take care of us. My congratulations to each of the projects selected today”, he added.

The Commissioner responsible for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, was also satisfied. “Integrated Life Program projects are one of the main tools for achieving the green transition by making targeted changes on the ground. Through these projects, Member States can green their economies, restore nature and biodiversity and improve their resilience” he said. “I look forward to seeing the benefits that these investments will bring both in the 11 countries and beyond their borders,” he concluded.

 

What is LIFE

The LIFE program is the EU’s financial instrument for the environment and climate action. It has been active since 1992 and has co-financed more than 5,500 projects across the EU and beyond. The Commission explained that it has increased LIFE’s funding by almost 60% for the period 2021-2027, bringing it to 5.4 billion euros. LIFE currently has four sub-programs: nature and biodiversity; circular economy and quality of life; mitigation and adaptation to climate change; transition to clean energy.

The Life program provides funds for integrated projects. These projects support the implementation of EU environmental and climate legislation and policies, at regional, multi-regional, national, or transnational level, and help Member States comply with EU core standards in six areas: nature conservation, water, air, waste management, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.

Sources:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_864

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_22_865

Giulia Torbidoni – PFE