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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article20 June 2024European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency2 min read

LIFE Awards 2024 Winners: spotlight on Climate Action

Taking top spot in this year’s LIFE Award for Climate Action was LIFE TreeCheck, which promotes green and blue infrastructure to help the residents of Central European cities keep cool by minimising the urban heat island effect.

LIFE Awards 2024_ spotlight_climate action
© Julie de Bellaing / European Union, 2024.

Temperatures in large cities tend to be several degrees higher than in the surrounding countryside - enough to make residents uncomfortably hot, especially in summer. Hard infrastructure such as roads and concrete paving also adds to the challenge of flooding and drainage. 

LIFE TreeCheck aimed to minimise this urban heat island effect by planting trees and grassland, as well as restoring rivers and public swimming areas. Green and blue infrastructure - composed by  trees and lawns in the streets, parks, gardens, plants on roofs and building facades, public fountains, lakes and rivers - are essential for making our cities more liveable in the future. 

“Our project has opened the debate about the problem of urban heat islands in central Europe. We wanted to highlight the connection between water management and caring for trees in big cities,” Project Manager Martin Ander notes. “That’s really important for the people who live there.” 

During its four-year implementation, the LIFE TreeCheck project has clocked up some impressive results. As well as the LIFE TreeCheck app which enables residents to discover the most cooling trees in their neighbourhood, green and blue infrastructure was introduced across eight cities in Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary, benefitting a combined population of more than 4.4 million citizens. 

Meanwhile Tree Check PRO is an online programme designed to help city planners and urban designers to search for specific trees, bushes or green areas and find out how they contribute to cooling new public spaces and buildings. The software predicts the cooling value of a tree over time, both in terms of its performance and the amount of money it could save over three, five and 20 years. 

LIFE TreeCheck has also created a database of best practice featuring 158 separate projects which makes it “a piece of cake to find an interesting solution for your own house or an entire municipality and its surroundings.” As part of its Green Oasis programme, it also made 128 mini-grants to community groups to create better public spaces. “Places that offer more greenery and water. Where it is a joy to meet. Bring nature back to the city step by step with your neighbours, friends and families.” 5,666 people were involved in planting the Green Oases, 22 educational events were arranged and more than 500 people were trained. 

The LIFE Awards - an annual celebration of the most successful projects implemented under the LIFE Programme - were announced at a live-streamed ceremony held in Brussels in front of a live audience during the finale of European Green Week. Finalists and winners were judged on their contribution to immediate and long-term environmental, economic and social improvements; degree of innovation and transferability; relevance to policy; and cost-effectiveness.  

Runners up in the 2024 LIFE Awards Climate Action category were LIFE Ad’Apto - testing and adapting different solutions for tackling sea level rise and extreme weather events - and LIFE UrbanStorm, which developed sustainable and climate resilient urban storm water collection systems and wastewater treatment in the Estonian cities of Tallinn and Viimsi. 

The LIFE Programme is the EU's funding instrument for the environment and climate action. Since 1992 it has co-financed more than 6,000 projects across the EU and other countries. Applications are now open for €571 million worth of funding for LIFE projects in 2024. 


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