The LIFE Awards 2023, held as part of the European Green Week, celebrated the most innovative and impactful projects under the LIFE Programme. The award winners were selected from 150 recently finished LIFE projects across the EU supporting the European Green Deal. They mark outstanding achievements in three categories: nature protection, the environment and climate action.
Leading up to the award ceremony, more than 10.000 people voted for their favourite LIFE project online. The LIFE Citizens’ Prize 2023 was awarded to the project that received most public votes. With 3091 public votes, this year’s LIFE Citizens’ Prize went to the LIFE TECMINE project. Initiated in Spain, LIFE TECMINE focuses on improving restoration practices in mining areas of the Mediterranean, from the perspective of environmental, technical, and social sustainability.
Presenting the LIFE Citizens’ Award, Acting-Director of CINEA Paloma Aba emphasised the significance of the LIFE projects connecting the European Union to its citizens. ‘LIFE brings European Union citizens together, and beyond, to work for our climate and our environment,’ she said. ‘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, and what it will be in the future.’
Mining has a serious social and environmental impact, as extracting minerals affects soil quality, biodiversity, water resources and the landscape. Furthermore, traditional restoration techniques are neither adequate nor efficient, especially under the extreme weather conditions in the Mediterranean.
LIFE TECMINE, a pioneer in Europe, proved the efficiency of geomorphological restoration techniques in Mediterranean forest areas that were affected by mining. It has become an international reference, moving from 'mining activities rehabilitation' towards 'mining activities restoration'. The project covered a mining area of 13 ha in Spain. Due to widespread interest in its methodology, the project managed to replicate the experience at three additional mines, which resulted in a 148% increase of the initial surface area. The work prompted an update of the General Plan for Mining Operations in the Region of Valencia (Spain), and a proposal for a Sustainable Mining Law based on the results of the project is currently under development.
LIFE TECMINE drafted technical guidelines on mine restoration for public administrations and provided high-quality training and technical support to interested stakeholders. The project created the first national network for the restoration of mines and quarries, with 60 entities involved. In addition, the Valencia Regional Government has earmarked €2.5 million from the EU Next Generation Funds to replicate the project in the region's mines. Collaboration among public authorities, the private sector and research institutions enriched the work carried out by all involved parties and contributed to the success of the project overall.
LINK TO VIDEO AWARDS WEBSTREAM EU GREEN WEEK 2023 - Streaming Service of the European Commission (europa.eu)
LINK TO www.LIFEAWARDS.EU
- Publication date
- 21 June 2023
- European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency