On 24 May 2018, during the EU Green Week – Europe’s biggest environmental event – Commissioner Karmenu Vella announced the winners of the 2016 and 2017 LIFE Awards. The nine winners include projects from Belgium, Greece, Spain, Italy, Austria, Poland and Slovakia. A special people's Choice Award, in line with this year's Green Week focus on sustainable cities, was given to a LIFE green city project, exploring solutions to reduce air pollution in cities.
Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Congratulations to the winners and finalists in these LIFE Awards! These outstanding projects show how LIFE makes a difference to our environment, nature, climate, our cities, and – above all – to the lives of EU citizens. They show the LIFE programme at its best – supporting local innovation, replicable across national borders, with benefits for all Europeans. I am delighted that with the new proposal for an increased budget, LIFE will continue to help build a greener future even on a greater scale."
Miguel Arias Caňete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy said: “Climate action starts with people. These outstanding LIFE Climate Action projects show that well-designed actions involving citizens and businesses from the outset can achieve concrete results. LIFE helps small, climate-smart investments make a visible impact, for example by helping farmers develop sustainable and economically viable techniques. It shows that meaningful change is feasible and affordable.”
The LIFE Awards recognise the most innovative, inspirational and effective LIFE projects in the fields of nature protection, environment and climate action. If applied widely, they can have a highly positive impact on the environment, boosting economic growth and providing significant benefits for European citizens.
LIFE Awards winners
From 62 finalists, nine outstanding projects have been awarded the title “Best LIFE project”. The winners include environment projects from Italy, Spain and Poland, nature projects from Belgium, Greece, and Slovakia, and climate action projects from Spain (two projects) and Austria. Winning projects were chosen for their contribution to environmental, economic and social improvements, paying special attention to their innovation, replicability, relevance to policy and cost effectiveness.
ECOREMED (Italy) – Showed that pollutant-removing plants can stop toxic elements getting onto farmland and into the food chain. These plants also provide biomass for sustainable energy and biodegradable plastics.
LIFE ECO-DHYBAT (Spain) – Pioneered new best practices in cleaning production lines for processed food. Savings in chemicals, water, and energy could be widespread thanks to these Best Available Techniques.
EH-REK (Poland) – Rehabilitated reservoirs in the city of Łódź to improve water quality and allow continued recreational use.
LIFE Kleine Nete (Belgium) – Restored valuable river and floodplain habitats in Flanders, reducing flood risk and boosting biodiversity.
LIFE Arctos/Kastoria (Greece) – Reduced lethal collisions between cars and bears along a highway in northern Greece. Good news for wildlife and for drivers.
APUS & NYCTALUS (Slovakia) – Installed thousands of nest boxes to welcome swifts and bats back to cities in Slovakia where former nesting sites have been made inaccessible by improvements to the energy efficiency of old buildings.
Climate Action winners:
LIFE+ AGRICARBON (Spain) – Helped farmers in southern Spain to switch to more sustainable and more precise agricultural techniques that were found to store 30% more carbon in the soil.
Crops for better soil (Spain) – Showed that organic farming methods can return carbon content to vulnerable soils and make them economically viable again.
EKO-LIFE (Austria) – Encouraged citizens of the Vorarlberg region to reduce their carbon footprint through lifestyle changes, and then become 'change ambassadors' to multiply the impact.
People's Choice Award
In recognition of the theme of EU Green Week 2018, the public was invited to vote for its favourite LIFE Green City project, from a shortlist of six. The winner of the People's Choice Award is AIRUSE, a Spanish-led project that analysed air pollution in five cities in southern Europe and made recommendations for effective action to reduce levels of airborne particles.
#EUGreenWeek 2018 explores ways in which the EU is helping cities to become better places to live and work. Showcasing policy developments on air quality, noise, nature, biodiversity, waste and water management, it promotes participatory approaches to urban development. It also looks at networking schemes, tools for sharing best practices and ways of engaging local authorities and citizens, and encouraging them to share their vision of a sustainable future.
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 more than 4 500 projects across the EU and in third countries. The programme has contributed over €4 billion to the protection of the environment and climate and mobilised over €9 billion in total. At any given moment some 1 100 projects are ongoing. The budget for the LIFE Programme for 2014–2020 is set at €3.4 billion, and has sub-programmes for environment and climate action.
View a gallery of pictures of the LIFE Awards ceremony here.
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