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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article28 September 2023European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency

LIFE IP ZENAPA: helping citizens deliver the green transition

Through its flagship, citizen-led Solar Campaign, LIFE IP ZENAPA brings communities, local authorities, and experts together to make the future of tomorrow the reality of today. 

One of the meetings organised by LIFE IP ZENAPA as part of their Solar Campaign
©LIFE15 IPC/DE/000005 . All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

The European Green Deal is ‘the centrepiece of our economy and unmatched in ambition’, said European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen during her last State of the European Union address. 

The challenge now, however, is to transform that ambition into reality.  In 90 districts and villages across Germany and Luxembourg, LIFE IP ZENAPA is showing how to do that by involving citizens and uniting communities around a common aim. 

LIFE IP ZENAPA takes an integrated approach towards climate protection through multiple initiatives, all with the goal of ‘Zero Emissions in Nature Protection Areas.’ 

By the end of the project in 2026, it aims to save around 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent; generate EUR 154.8 million of regional added value; and create up to 4 000 new green jobs. 

‘The project goals are transferred from the scientific/abstract level to the everyday life of people,’ says regional project leader Prof. Dr. Peter Heck. ‘They learn how to contribute to large political goals with their own small changes.’ 

Covering ten per cent of Germany’s territory LIFE IP ZENAPA’s Solar and Nature Protection Campaign aims to raise awareness and convince citizens to install solar panels on balconies and roofs.   

Project Manager Jacob Bussmann is passionate about the Solar Campaign. ‘Solar panels are an excellent starting point for climate protection,’ he says. ‘Almost everyone can install them and contribute to a clean energy transition.’ 

From the start in 2018, solar experts, local politicians and financial advisors promoted the benefits and opportunities of installing solar panels. Meetings focused on practical advantages, made it clear that renewable energy is good for the planet, is cost saving and fosters community development. 

The project has also organised a series of climate protection conferences for children in eleven German regions, as well as in Luxembourg, reaching more than a thousand students, teachers, and parents. The conferences use games and activities to bring the reality of climate change home to young people and to turn them into ambassadors for climate protection and action.      

Recent LIFE IP ZENAPA milestones include five new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and a new solar plant on the roof of the district administration in Vulkaneifel. The project also oversees two demonstration buildings currently under construction on a landfill site in Lindlar. 

With the help of LIFE IP ZENAPA and other LIFE projects involving the citizens of today and tomorrow, the European Green Deal is taking concrete steps. The steps which, in the words of the European Commission President, are ‘designed as an opportunity to preserve our future prosperity.’ 


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