2. LIFE Climate Action
2.1 What is LIFE Climate Action?
LIFE Climate Action aims specifically to fulfil the following general objectives as set out in Article 3 of the LIFE programme:
to contribute to the shift towards a resource-efficient, low- carbon and climate-resilient economy;
to improve the development, implementation and enforcement of Union climate policy and legislation;
to act as a catalyst for, and promote, the integration and mainstreaming of climate objectives into other Union policies and public and private sector practice;
to support better climate governance at all levels, including better involvement of civil society, NGOs and local actors.
In October 2014 the European Council9 set the 2030 climate and energy policy framework for the EU setting an ambitious economy-wide domestic target of at least 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction for 2030, as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency targets of at least 27%. The Paris Agreement vindicates the EU's approach. Implementing the 2030 energy and climate framework as agreed by the European Council is a priority in follow up to the Paris Agreement.
Specific approaches are required to increase integration of climate-related objectives into Member State practices, to address uneven and inadequate implementation of climate- related legislation in the Member States, and to vastly improve dissemination and promotion of climate knowledge and the according policy goals.
Projects under this call for proposals should support the implementation of the EU's climate policy and prepare the EU for the climate action challenges in the coming years and decades. The “Framework strategy for a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy”11 and the Commission Communication of 15 December 2011 entitled "A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050" (the "Roadmap 2050") acknowledged that testing new approaches to climate change mitigation would remain essential for moving to a low-carbon economy. Effective uptake of adaptation to climate change, as a cross-cutting Union priority, also needs to be ensured as acknowledged in the Commission Communication "An EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change"12. The Resource Efficient Europe flagship initiative supports the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon and climate resilient economy to achieve sustainable growth, providing a long- term framework for actions in many policy areas, including climate change and energy. In addition, improved governance, in particular through awareness raising and stakeholder involvement, is essential to deliver environmental objectives.
Therefore, the sub-programme for Climate Action requires projects to contribute to one of the following three priority areas:
Climate Change Mitigation,
Climate Change Adaptation and
Projects must choose which priority area the project contributes most to and indicate this in the application. It is encouraged, where relevant, for projects to contribute to more than one of those priority areas.13
Synergies with other environmental and climate policies should be a central theme of Climate Action projects; for example, climate change adaptation and biodiversity should be promoted, wherever relevant. The LIFE Regulation and, to a lesser extent, the EU Adaptation Strategy, highlight ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation. As this approach clearly results in synergies and multiple benefits, applicants should determine whether their proposal is geared, from its initial conception and design, towards adaptation to climate change or towards nature conservation, and thus apply for the relevant strand of the LIFE Programme. Examples of this may include proposals concerning peatland restoration, coastal realignment or river floodplain restoration. Projects in urban areas can also promote synergies between climate change adaptation and mitigation, in addition to environmental policies. Examples of this may include proposals concerning thermal insulation of buildings, green infrastructure and water savings.
Solutions, methods and approaches developed by projects under the LIFE sub-programme for Climate Action should be suitable to be scaled up and supported by private investments, other Union or national funding programmes, as well as financial instruments, where applicable.
With a view to optimising the use of LIFE Programme resources, synergies between actions under the LIFE sub-programme for Environment, in particular to protect biodiversity, and climate change mitigation and adaptation measures under the LIFE sub-programme for Climate Action, for forests and soil, water scarcity and droughts, as well as management of flood risks, should be fostered.14,15 Projects in one priority area that might undermine environmental or climate objectives in another priority area will not be funded unless this impact is clearly explained and justified in the proposal and the possible alternatives and mitigation and adaptation measures have been correctly planned if appropriate.
The experience of past LIFE programmes has highlighted the need to focus efforts on concrete environmental and climate policy priorities and areas for action. Those thematic priorities should not be exhaustive to allow applicants to submit proposals in other areas and to incorporate new ideas to react to new challenges.16 In line with the general objective of the LIFE Regulation, the project applications are especially encouraged to address specific climate challenges in each of the three priority areas, which are outlined below in the form of EU policy priorities. It should be noted that these priorities may be changed each year.
The construction of large infrastructure is considered beyond the scope of the LIFE Programme and will therefore not be supported.
2.2 What are Climate Action projects?
According to the LIFE Regulation, LIFE Climate Change Mitigation and Climate Change Adaptation projects must be pilot, demonstration or best practise projects.
Pilot project means projects that apply a technique or method that has not been applied or tested before, or elsewhere, that offers potential environmental or climate advantages compared to current best practice and that can subsequently be applied on a larger scale to similar situations. These projects aim to assess the effectiveness of the method, to inform other stakeholders of the results and to encourage them where appropriate to use the techniques and methods successfully tested in the project.
Note that the application of an established solution action/methodology in a particular geographical region where it has not been applied before is not considered to be a "pilot" activity but a "demonstration" activity.
Demonstration project means projects that put into practice, test, evaluate and disseminate actions, methodologies or approaches that are new or unknown in the specific context of the project, such as the geographical, ecological, socio-economic context, and that could be applied elsewhere in similar circumstances. In order to achieve the required EU added value, they must be designed to demonstrate whether or not the target techniques and methods work in the project's context. A successful demonstration project is available to all potential stakeholders and aims to encourage other stakeholders to use the techniques and methods demonstrated in the project. Demonstration projects may have a higher EU added value if they take place on a national or transnational level, rather than on a local scale.
As regards the demonstration scale, the project should be implemented on a technical scale that allows the evaluation of the technical and economic viability of the proposed pilot on a larger scale. The proposal must justify the choice of scale for the project in the light of the above. In particular, for projects developing decision support systems, planning tools or the like, there has to be a specific project action implementing the tool to demonstrate its technical and economic viability and to enable a comparison with the baseline situation.
Note that the application of an established best practice action/methodology in a particular geographical region where it has not been applied before is considered to be a "best practice" activity.
Best practice projects means projects that apply appropriate, cost-effective and state-of-the-art techniques, methods and approaches taking into account the specific context of the project. They are available to all potential stakeholders to adopt and illustrate how this can be done.
Information, awareness and dissemination projects aim at supporting communication, dissemination of information and awareness raising in the fields of the sub-programmes for Environment and Climate Action. They must especially serve one or more of the general objectives of the Climate Governance and Information priority area, in accordance with Article 16 of the LIFE regulation. Projects aiming to enhance climate governance and capacity building are strongly encouraged.
All projects need to contribute to the general objectives of the LIFE programme according to Article 1 of the LIFE Regulation. This means that the climate advantages demonstrated by the project need to have a clear intended application and a potential impact towards achieving a low emission and climate resilient society and/or the integration of climate objectives into the public and private sector.
In order to achieve the required EU added value, the monitoring, evaluation and active dissemination of the main project results and/or lessons learnt is an integral part of the project and its follow up.
2.4 Priority Area "Climate Change Adaptation"
2.4.1 General scope and objectives
With a view to supporting efforts leading to increased resilience to climate change, the priority area Climate Change Adaptation has in particular the following specific objectives as set out in Article 15 of the LIFE Regulation:
to contribute to the development and implementation of Union policy on climate change adaptation, including mainstreaming across policy areas, in particular by developing, testing and demonstrating policy or management approaches, best practices and solutions for climate change adaptation, including, where appropriate, ecosystem-based approaches;
to improve the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of effective climate change adaptation actions and measures, prioritising, where appropriate, those applying an ecosystem-based approach, and to enhance the capacity to apply that knowledge in practice;
to facilitate the development and implementation of integrated approaches, such as for climate change adaptation strategies and action plans, at local, regional or national level, prioritising, where appropriate, ecosystem-based approaches;
to contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative climate change adaptation technologies, systems, methods and instruments that are suitable for being replicated, transferred or mainstreamed.
2.4.2 Link to EU climate policy objectives
Climate change is having a variety of impacts on our health, ecosystems and economy, often in interaction with other factors such as land-use change. Many economic sectors are directly dependent on climatic conditions and are already facing the impact of climate change in areas such as agriculture, forestry, beach and snow tourism, health and fisheries. Major utilities, such as energy and water providers, are also affected. Ecosystems and the services they provide are suffering from the adverse impacts of climate change, which is accelerating the decline of biodiversity and reducing their ability to buffer natural extremes.
The EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change22, adopted in April 2013, provides a framework and mechanisms to improve the preparedness of the EU for current and future impacts of climate change. It recognizes that improved access to funding is critical in building a climate-resilient Europe. The implementation of adaptation policies in many European countries and worldwide is gradually picking up pace, recently buttressed by the Paris Agreement. The agreement sets out a global action plan to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warning to well below 2°C. In relation to climate adaptation, governments agreed to strengthen societies' ability to deal with the impact of climate change.
22 An EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change – COM (2013) 2016 31
Work at city level on climate change adaption has intensified in the last period. Climate policy in cities has been supported by the Paris Agreement recognition of cities as key actors in implementation and has been one of the priorities when implementing the EU Adaptation Strategy. Within the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy23, adaptation has been merged with mitigation efforts in a European initiative involving over 7,000 cities around the world. The Covenant aims at promoting additional integrated adaptation and mitigation action in an urban context.
Objectives and priorities for funding adaptation to climate change are specified in the EU Adaptation Strategy and in the LIFE Multiannual Work Programme 2014-2017.
2.4.3 EU policy priorities for the 2017 call
LIFE funding for adaptation will give priority to projects that address key cross-sectoral, trans-regional and/or cross-border issues. Projects with demonstration and transferability potential will be encouraged, as will be green infrastructure and ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation, and projects aiming to promote innovative adaptation solutions. In addition, the European Union will promote adaptation particularly in the following vulnerable areas:
cross-border management of floods, fostering collaborative agreements based on the EU Floods Directive;
trans-boundary coastal management, with emphasis on densely populated deltas and coastal cities;
mainstreaming adaptation into urban land use planning, building layouts and natural resources management;
sustainable and resilient agricultural, forestry and tourism sectors;
The Strategy further states that the European Union will support the establishment of vulnerability assessments and adaptation strategies, including those with a cross-border nature.
Project proposals focusing on urban adaptation are also encouraged for the 2017 call. In this context, actions as listed below are examples that would help contribute to meeting this important EU policy objective:
developing and implementing local adaptation and mitigation initiatives ('the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy' and 'Mayors Adapt'), including cooperation between local authorities;
projects contributing at the same time to climate adaptation and mitigation (such as those linked to the 'Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy') as well as nature conservation and biodiversity objectives in urban areas;
developing and deploying innovative adaptation solutions in urban areas, including in the water, energy and construction sectors and solutions addressing health and wellbeing;
promoting and developing green infrastructure24 in cities, including combating the urban heat island effect (through green roofs or networks of green space as ventilation areas), improving permeability of urban surfaces and/or controlling flood risks (through multi-use retention areas);
implementing public-private partnerships, including through applying insurance solutions.
2.5.4 How to prepare a LIFE Climate project proposal?
Logical steps to conceive a project proposal
1. Identify the problem the proposal aims to address in form B.2
Applicants must demonstrate a solid understanding of the problem targeted by describing it and quantifying it in a complete and convincing way in the project proposal (to the extent that this is reasonably possible, depending also on the nature and subject of the project). The description of the problem should include information on the root causes of the problem, the severity and extent of the problem in the specific context targeted. Applicants should describe how the problem specifically affects the stakeholders of the projects. Please note that the evaluation will be based only on the information provided in the document, therefore it is utterly important to provide a clear and comprehensive description of the problem that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, it will be not possible to assess the rationale of the project and the logic of the activities.
Once identified the problem, applicants should check whether the problem targeted is clearly related to EU climate legislation and policy. It is advisable to check in the database on the LIFE website to see whether similar projects have been undertaken in the same field. Applicants could identify potential links, build on existing knowledge and use lessons learnt or solutions from past or/and ongoing project i.e. where a thematic database or platform of knowledge may have already been developed through LIFE projects, therefore the applicants should use/build on them instead of creating new ones.
Applicants should present a clear and complete analysis of the current situation (the baseline) in terms of climate/environmental and social challenges of their specific context. The description of the situation before the project intervention serves to indicate the starting point of the project. The baseline helps to demonstrate the logical links between the identified problems, their causes, the activities and expected results.
The baseline is also instrumental to assess expected impacts and to monitor the project's progress. In this regard, the baseline description should include quantitative and qualitative data, for example results of a survey indicating the level of awareness of civil servants about floods risks etc.
The baseline should include clear and specific information of past and ongoing projects in the same field led or not by the applicants. In particular, the proposal should indicate what has been achieved by past and/or ongoing interventions and what the added value of the proposal is compared to existing or/and past projects.
In case some information is not available or it is outdated, the applicants can use preparatory actions to complete or/and update the baseline. However, key data – at least qualitative data – should be provided to demonstrate the need and rationale of the project. The source of all baseline data should be provided.
Example of problems to be addressed by projects:
- Insufficient awareness among the inhabitants of region YY of risks of floods of the river XX.
- Technological barriers to the development of cost-efficient waste-heat recovery system.
2. Define what is to be achieved will achieve (expected results)
Expected results to be achieved need to be clear, specific and measurable. The simple implementation of, e.g., a communication campaign without achieving anything specific and measurable in relation to the identified problem cannot be considered to be a project objective and a positive result of a project are, for example, changes on attitudes and behaviours.
Example of expected results:
- Increased awareness among citizens of region YY of floods mitigation practices for the river XX.
- Reduce technological barriers to the development of cost-efficient waste-heat recovery system.
3. Define who will be targeted by the project
Applicants have to reflect carefully on the choice of target audience(s) with respect to the project objectives. The relevance of the target audience(s) for addressing the problem identified as well as the size of this audience are crucial aspects in the design of the strategy and need to be clearly explained. Projects focused only at local level risk obtaining a low score for this aspect unless they can prove that they represent high EU added value.
Example of target audiences for projects:
- The citizens living close to the river, the meteorological service, the local authorities.
- The producers and users of the waste heat recovery system.
4. Identify and describe the actions
All actions must be necessary to achieve the expected results and appropriate to address the problem. They must be adapted to the target audience identified. Applicants should design a clear strategy linking the individual actions in order to achieve the defined objective (applicants could apply the logical framework method). Proposals should provide a clear description of activities, presenting what will be done, by whom, by when who will do it, when it will be done (beginning, duration, completion), where it will be done and who will benefit from the activity.
For projects designed to increase awareness or understanding among the target audience, applicants have to demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge and understanding of current communication techniques and explain the choice and pertinence of the communication mix retained for the project. The elaboration of a detailed communication strategy/plan as a preparatory action for such projects is also considered to be a necessity, and the key elements of such a strategy should already be presented in the project proposal.
Moreover, proposals should include a 'put into practice' component in the project. Project should not only be limited to developing tools and methodologies but they should also include a realistic strategy with concrete activities enabling uptake and effective use of these tools by the relevant actors during the duration of the project and possibly after the project ends.
Applicants are invited to involve relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation of the project to facilitate synergies, multiplying effects and uptake of project results. This may include national or local authorities in charge of the implementation of relevant issues, e.g. Ministry of Environment department in charge of National Floods management plan etc.
5. Define indicators for monitoring the expected results of the project
These indicators should be closely linked to the objectives of the project, providing relevant information of what is expected to be achieved by the project. They should inform on the impacts on the state of environment/climate, whenever possible, as well as the impacts on the attitude and practices of the target audience. The project impact is measured in comparison with the baseline situation identified before the start of the project. Therefore applicants should clearly present the baseline data. Indicators measuring progress of the project (completion of tasks/outputs) are not sufficient to assess the impacts of project. In the proposal, applicants have to explain the appropriateness of the impact monitoring indicators selected and the impact monitoring regime (e.g. frequency) retained.
Example of impact indicators:
- % change in level of awareness compared to baseline measured by surveys
Applicants are encouraged to develop a set of specific impact indicators that are most appropriate to their project to be added to the mandatory LIFE performance indicator table. Even if the contribution of the project to the achievement of these indicators is only indirect or partial, such indicators provide an indication of the level of ambition and capacity to contribute to a remedy of the identified problem.
6. Define a realistic strategy to assure that project results will be maintained or improved and actions will continue beyond the project duration. It is advised to plan actions to ensure funding of such activities after the project ends.
7. Include substantive actions to replicate the approach/results of the projects in similar contexts in other regions, countries, sectors
Replication activities should go beyond dissemination of results and networking. In this context, identify and set up relevant contacts, build up a replication action plan including assessment of possible adaptations needed and funding opportunities, conduct specific actions to concretely put the techniques/approaches developed in the project into practice elsewhere.
Some lessons from past calls for proposals
Applicants are invited to pay particular attention to and reflect upon the following recurring reasons for such proposals failing in the past:
Poor identification and description/presentation of the environmental problem targeted and related awareness and governance issues, with limited or no background information and data. Poor description of the current (baseline) situation in the target area;
Lack or incomplete description of the value added of the project compared to ongoing or past projects led in the same field;
Lack of an implementation component including actions to ensure the effective use of developed tools/methodologies by relevant actors;
Poor identification and description of the target audience of the project;
Inappropriate target audience with respect to the problem targeted;
Actions not responding to the needs of the identified target audience;
No coherent strategy linking individual actions to achieve the defined objective and address the identified problem;
Poor or incomplete identification and involvement of relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation of the project;
Lack of a realistic strategy/action plan including concrete actions, beyond dissemination of results and networking, to ensure replication of the approach/tools in other contexts (other regions, countries, sectors);
No quantification or poor/limited quantification of expected results;
Indicators not specific/relevant to measure outputs or expected results;
Inadequate monitoring activities and monitoring indicators for monitoring the project's impact and results;
Low value for money.