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European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency

LIFE operating grants

The LIFE programme provides support to European non-profit making entities through operating grants.

Organisations can apply for LIFE action grants for the implementation of one-off projects. If they are eligible (see criteria below), they can also apply for operating grants. The legal base for organisations receiving operating grants is the LIFE Regulation, which states that:

"Operating grants shall support the functioning of non-profit making entities which are involved in the development, implementation and enforcement of Union legislation and policy, and which are primarily active in the area of the environment or climate action, including energy transition, in line with the objectives of the LIFE Programme set out in Article 3." (Article 11 of the Regulation). The main objective defined in Article 3 is “to contribute to the shift towards a sustainable, circular, energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral and resilient economy, in order to protect, restore and improve the quality of the environment, including the air, water and soil, and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and to tackle the degradation of ecosystems, including by supporting the implementation and management of the Natura 2000 network, thereby contributing to sustainable development.”

Why is there a funding programme for European environmental, climate and energy non-profit organisations?

Thanks to operating grants, non-profit making entities play an important role in raising awareness of environmental issues for a better governance. They contribute to the decision-making process by coordinating and channelling the views of their networks of citizens.

For the development and implementation of EU environmental or climate policy, there needs to be an open and wide-ranging dialogue with all stakeholders. It is important that organisations are able to take part in such a dialogue, since they represent organised civil society and have a good understanding of public concerns on the environment and climate change. Their presence is important to provide a sound democratic contribution, also to counter-balance the interests of other actors in the EU arena.

European organisations are for example valuable in co-ordinating and channelling the views of national organisations and citizens, as input to the decision making process. For the development and implementation of environmental and/or climate policy, including clean energy transition, they participate in preparatory work and expert groups and conduct research and studies, for instance to give feedback, improve the knowledge base and help shape European policies. Another example of an area where organisations play an important role is awareness raising of the general public and environmental and/or climate education.

In the past, between 20 and 40 organisations were selected for funding, following each call for proposals. The next call, which will aim at the selection of organisations' beneficiaries for funding in 2025-2027, will be published in 2024.

Application for operating grants – eligibility criteria

To check the eligibility of your organisation for future calls, please read carefully the eligibility criteria, defined on the basis of the LIFE Regulation (§ 23 Preamble). Any applicant must:

  1. Be a non-profit making legal person;
  2. Be independent, in particular from government, other public authorities, and from political or commercial interests;
  3. Be primarily active in the field of environment and/or climate action and have an environmental/climate objective which is aimed at:
    • the public good,
    • sustainable development, and
    • the development, implementation and enforcement of European Union environmental and/or climate policy and legislation;
  4. Be established (legally registered) in one of the European Union Member States;
  5. Be operating at Union level with a structure and activities covering at least three European Union Member States.

How many and what organisations are funded?

The number of organisations funded each year varies depending on the quality of the applications, the amounts applied for and the total budget available. You can find below the lists of organisations funded since 2018:

A list of organisations funded in 2018 and 2019 is available here.

A list of organisations funded in 2020 and 2021 is available here.

A list of organisations funded in 2022 is available here.