Re-wilding forests with Eurasian lynx, boosting farming with hi-tech bio-stimulants and helping one of Europe’s biggest cities adapt to climate change are among the winning projects announced today at the EU’s annual LIFE Awards during the EU Green Week. The award winners were selected from hundreds of LIFE projects across the EU supporting the European Green Deal. The winning projects mark outstanding achievements in three categories: nature protection, the environment and climate action. In addition, the LIFE Citizens’ Prize - awarded by public vote - went to the LIFE TECMINE Project. This project aims to improve mine restoration activities in Mediterranean forest areas by testing innovative and highly transferable restoration techniques.
This years’ winners are: The LIFE Award for Nature: LIFE Luchs Pfälzerwald project on the reintroduction of Eurasian lynxes in the Palatinate Forest Biosphere Reserve. The project established a thriving population of lynx in southwest Germany, three centuries after they disappeared from the area.
The LIFE Award for Environment: LIFE Plants for Plants project, which developed new plant-based ‘bio-stimulants’ for conventional agriculture. Working across six European countries, the team produced and tested three new bio-stimulants which save water, reduce fungicide and phosphorous, and make crops more resilient to climate change and disease.
The LIFE Award for Climate Action: LIFE METRO ADAPT project on enhancing climate change adaptation strategies and measures in Milan, Italy’s second-largest city. Water management and nature-based solutions are used to implement sustainable drainage systems and prevent flood risk in urban areas.
The jury commended all three winning projects for their outstanding contribution to environmental, economic and social progress, as well as demonstrating excellence in impact, replicability, policy relevance, cross-border cooperation and cost-effectiveness.
Also honoured at the Awards ceremony were six other finalists:
LIFE IAS Free Habitats: improving and maintaining the conservation status of three of the rarest and most vulnerable natural forest and grassland habitat types in Bulgaria.
LIFE Lech: conserving the natural dynamics of the Lech river system and surrounding riparian landscapes in Austria and Germany.
LIFE TECMINE: improving mine restoration activities in Mediterranean forest areas by testing innovative and highly transferable restoration techniques.
LIFE-FOODWASTEPREV: changing attitudes to food waste in Hungary through a food waste prevention campaign.
LIFE Peat Restore: reducing CO2 emissions by restoring degraded peatlands in Northern European lowlands.
U-MOB LIFE: creating a European Network for Sustainable Mobility at Universities, with 85 members from 11 countries.
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 almost 6 000 projects across the EU and in third countries. The European Commission has increased LIFE programme funding by almost 60 percent for the 2021 - 2027 period, now standing at €5.4 billion. LIFE has four new sub-programmes: nature and biodiversity, circular economy and quality of life, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and clean energy transition. Applications are now open for €611 million worth of funding for LIFE projects in 2023. The LIFE Programme has been managed by CINEA, the European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, since 1 April 2021.
Organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment for over 20 years now, EU Green Week is Europe’s biggest annual event on environmental policy. Europeans can debate, become familiar with, or celebrate European environmental policy and actions with policymakers, leading environmentalists and experts from Europe and beyond.
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Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
The LIFE programme is more essential than ever. It shows there are scalable and replicable solutions to address the triple crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity collapse. One often overlooked solution is nature. It helps us to mitigate and adapt to climate change as well as provides clean air and pollination for our crops. Working with it rather than against it, we invest in the most effective carbon sink as well as our future food and energy security. I congratulate this year’s finalists for their inspiring actions to protect our nature and respond to climate challenges.
Acting-Director of CINEA, Paloma Aba, said:
LIFE brings citizens together to work for our climate and the environment. It’s all about people – we call it ‘the people’s programme’. Every day, they are busy working for a cleaner environment and taking climate action at local level. Everyone who has contributed to the success of the LIFE Programme can be proud of their contribution. Without the support of the people, LIFE would never be the success story it is today.
- Publication date
- 7 June 2023
- Directorate-General for Environment