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Call: Nature and Biodiversity

Programme
Acronym LIFE-NAT
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"LIFE - sub-programme “Nature and Biodiversity”"

The sub-programme “Nature and Biodiversity” will aim:

  • to develop, demonstrate, promote and stimulate the scale up of innovative techniques, methods and approaches (including nature-based solutions and ecosystem approaches) for reaching the objectives set out under the Union legislation and policy on or related to nature and biodiversity, and to contribute to the knowledge base and to the application of best practices, including through the support of the Natura 2000 network;
  • to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the relevant Union legislation and policy on or related to nature and biodiversity, including by improving governance at all levels, in particular through enhancing the capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society, also taking into due consideration the possible contributions provided by citizen science;
  • to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful solutions/approaches for implementing relevant Union legislation and policy on nature and biodiversity, by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance.

LIFE has been a key tool supporting the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives since 1992 and has been instrumental and, in some cases crucial, to ensure the establishment of the Natura 2000 network.

The Nature Directives' fitness check, the Action plan for nature, people, and the economy as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 20309 underline the need to increase funding for nature and biodiversity.

The sub-programme Nature and Biodiversity will contribute to European Union objectives for the protection, maintenance and restoration of the Union’s natural capital in its marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, as outlined in the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Bern Convention. In particular, it will contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, the Regulation on Invasive Alien Species as well as relevant objectives under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Water Framework Directive, and the European strategy for Outermost Regions.

The sub-programme for nature and biodiversity will mainly be implemented through the following types of actions:

  1. a continuation of the traditional bottom-up approach, aimed at implementing practicaland effective measures for the improvement of the conservation status of species and habitats, ecosystems’ health and related services, through the co-funding of StandardAction Projects (SAPs). All SAPs should be designed to achieve, as a direct outcome of their implementation, tangible improvements for species, habitats and ecosystems and related services, to be defined on the basis of specific and measurable (SMART) objectives. The overall focus of SAPs is on the following: (1) area-based conservation and restoration measures (“space for nature”) and (2) additional specific measures targeting species and ecosystems/habitats with measures other than area-based ones (“protecting/safeguarding our species andhabitats”);
  2. a continuation of the integrated approach for supporting the full implementation of national or regional Prioritized Action Frameworks (PAFs) and other EU biodiversity-policy-related planning instruments, through Strategic Nature Projects (SNAPs). SNAPs encompass capacity building and mainstreaming actions, including by mobilising other funding sources for nature and biodiversity. SNAPs may also include specific conservation actions, in particular where these cannot be supported through the mobilisation of additional finance from other EU funding programmes;
  3. a structured approach to support the implementation of specific policy priorities, through dedicated calls under “Other Actions” (OAs);
  4. Technical Assistance projects (TA).

The above types of actions can cover:

  • measures to promote and support area-based conservation and restoration (“space for nature”);
  • additional specific measures targeting species (“safeguarding our species”);
  • governance to facilitate behavioral change and/or change in practices, soil, land and water management, including in marine areas, as well as the conservation of natural resources, including by supporting the implementation of the European Biodiversity Strategy for 203020 and the up-coming European Forestry Strategy to mainstream biodiversity objectives in relevant sectors, to build up the capacity at all levels and to improve the knowledge basis on nature and biodiversity, including for monitoring, accounting and reporting, assessment and ex-post evaluation;
  • Environmental compliance assurance and access to justice.

The actions above will target, among others, the implementation of the EU Habitats and Birds Directive and the Invasive Alien Species Regulation, the reversing of the decline of pollinators, the restoration of degraded and carbon-rich ecosystems and the improvement of health and resilience of forests.

Link Link to Programme
Call
Nature and Biodiversity
Description of call
"Nature and Biodiversity"

Objective:

The Commission has identified some specific needs to be addressed through dedicated calls (the so-called Other Actions (OAs). They include, amongst others, specific projects addressing specific needs for the development and implementation of Union environmental or climate policy and legislation.

Based on article 11 of the LIFE Regulation 2021/783 the LIFE Multi Annual Work Programme 2021-2024 (COM(2021) 4997 final), includes the possibility to finance each year a limited number of specific projects designed to support specific needs for the development and implementation of Union environment policy and legislation.

For reference, the LIFE projects, called in the past LIFE Regulation preparatory projects, are now called specific projects addressing ad hoc Legislative and Policy Priorities (PLP).

Point 4.1.4 of the Multi Annual Work Programme indicates that under the so called Other Actions, additional projects responding to the Union legislative and policy priorities could be determined on annual basis, following a consultation with Member States.

Once a year the Commission makes an inventory of the specific needs regarding the development and implementation of Union environmental or climate policy and legislation that need to be addressed during the following years and identifies among them the needs that could be addressed by specific projects.

Before launching this annual call for proposals, the Member States received a draft list of the identified specific needs that could be addressed by those projects and were asked to comment. Based on these comments, the final list was established.

Scope:

The proposed specific project under the topic LIFE 2021-PREP-NATURA shall address one of the following specific needs identified by the Member States in the sub-programme Nature and Biodiversity.

  • Specific project: Forest Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes.
  • Specific project: Preparing the basis for EU guidance and standardisation on closing the gap in the biological cycle to enrich soils with high quality compost from collected organic waste.
  • Specific project: Promoting Natural Capital Accounting synergies across businesses and government applications.

Expected Impact:

Forest Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes

The new EU Forest Strategy (COM(2021)572) calls for complementing the ongoing research work on forest ecosystem services under Horizon projects by means of a LIFE preparatory project with stakeholders on how payment for ecosystem services can be incorporated in EU funding programmes and include lessons learned from existing national payment schemes for ecosystem services. Although there is a common understanding that PES schemes are crucial for diversifying income to forest owners and rural communities, while supporting biodiversity and climate mitigation, benefits from the provision of ecosystem services are rarely or never rewarded. Their role in EU Funding schemes should therefore be strengthened. Specific project

The project should aim to collect national experiences as well as results of relevant EU-funded projects on PES schemes and analyse their strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore there will be an analysis of the current possibilities for PES schemes in all relevant EU programmes and in the state aid framework (guidelines). The project will, based on this analysis, propose a set of guidance/recommendations on how PES schemes can be promoted in the EU funding programmes for the Multiannual Financial Framework post 2027.

Preparing the basis for EU guidance and standardisation on closing the gap in the biological cycle to enrich soils with high quality compost from collected organic waste

The entering into force in 2023 of the obligation for separate collection for organic waste under the EU Waste Framework Directive may lead to a substantial increase of the organic matter available for recycling, including for composting as a nature-based solution. At the same time, while some rules apply for the maximum level of contamination (national rules, and, for EC-labelled fertilisers, the EU Fertilizers Regulation (EU) 2019/1009), it is essential to use all available knowledge to minimize contamination added to soil while closing the biological cycle to the soil, coherently with the zero pollution ambition.

Building on existing actors and initiatives, the proposed project should:

  • consolidate the existing knowledge;
  • setting the reference for closing at EU-level the loop from clean organic matter to soil;
  • prepare a comprehensive EU guidance for regional and local administrations.

This guidance should also be used to develop EU standards for bio-waste entering organic recycling processes, for compost and digestate, based on best available techniques.

The overall project’s objective is in synergy with the entry into force of the obligation for separate collection of organic waste in 2023, and while complying with thresholds for contaminants set in the EU Fertilizers Regulation, it will:

  • consolidate the existing knowledge for closing the biological cycle to soil while minimizing contaminants, using compost from organic waste in soil;
  • provide an off-the-shelf reference set of best practices, conceived, tested and validated in cooperation with relevant actors at EU-level for urban areas to boost the transformation and use of high quality compost obtained from the collection of clean organic waste, to enrich soils and replace non-renewable growing media (such as extracted peat), while respecting the waste hierarchy and the regulation on fertilizing products, and acting as locally as possible.
  • The set of best practices will be used as basis for EU guidance for regional and local administration to close the gap from clean organic matter to soil, and, eventually, standards for bio-waste entering recycling processes for compost and digestate.

Promoting Natural Capital Accounting synergies across businesses and government applications

The European Green Deal’ ambitions call for a systems-based approach that acknowledges the strong interconnection of environmental risks and their links with economic prosperity and social wellbeing. The principal objectives of the 2018 Sustainable Finance Action Plan continue to provide valuable guidance for steering the transition.

Many initiatives focus(ed) primarily on ways and means to (credibly) allocate capital to sustainable assets and activities. More is needed, however, to equip a much larger group of economic and financial decision makers with the tools to understand to what extent their activities and assets are exposed to environmental risks comprising both impacts and dependencies. In doing so, it is important to consider that to date, most environmental impact assessments and related datasets tend to concentrate on specific areas such as climate, air, water, land, and biodiversity separately and/or in parallel, rarely offering insights into combined systemic risks at the level of an economic entity. That tends to bias risks assessments and hamper the efficiency of mitigation strategies (as these tend to shift risks from one area that is focused upon that other areas not considered). Most analysis is furthermore backwards oriented whilst risks management requires a forward-looking approach. Furthermore, life-cycle and supply chain considerations are not always present but are essential for correct risk assessment and related foresight studies. Therefore, the Commission wants to support business and stakeholders in developing standardized natural capital accounting practices in the EU and generally.

A partnership pilot programme for enhancing synergies between corporate and national environmental or natural capital serving a dual purpose of direct relevance to the European Green Deal:

  • Provide a comprehensive dashboard comprising a coherent set of environmental performance indicators that allow measuring and managing the total impact and dependency (footprint) of a national or regional economy or sector for a given period and across the supply chain including all relevant key environmental areas (e.g. air, water, land and biodiversity). (Note: the ultimate selection of the geographical scope, national and/or regional, will be made after consideration of the required granularity for supporting corporate natural accounting).
  • Develop synergies between the system of environmental economic accounts and corporate standardized natural capital management accounting practices being developed through the parallel LIFE funded (Transparent)10 programme responding to the European Green Deal call and promoted through the EU Business and Biodiversity.

Resulting dashboards inspired by the pioneering corporate environmental impact score cards (cf. supra) should help economic and financial decision makers in understanding the extent to which the national or sectoral economy or a business is exposed to current and future environmental risks along the supply or value chain. It should also serve as basis for taking informed decisions on measures that decrease the risk exposure and increase the resilience to those risks (i.e. green investments) and monitor their progress.

The partnership pilot programme will encourage the active involvement of interested partners in the Member States (national statistical offices, central banks, ministries of finance and economics) as well as other interested Commission Services, EU institutions and international organisations. Importantly, it will encourage the engagement of specialized private sector sustainability consultancies and financial service companies that can help develop management information systems supporting both public and private economic and financial decision makers.

The project will build on available methods and datasets, whilst fully accounting for the SEEA experience and recommendations for the future UNSD mid-term report and recommendations from NCAVES, WAVES, KIP-INCA, MAIA, We Value Nature, etc. It will avoid duplicating existing or new platforms engaging with the scientific communities, instead focusing on the untapped potential for building on the expertise of financial and sustainability service companies that are used to develop database interfaces and dashboard suitable for supporting executive level decision making in economic and financial companies and other private and public entities.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Green Technologies & Green Deal, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Albania / Shqipëria
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Albania / Shqipëria
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Eligible applicants Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Education and Training Centres, Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, Other, National Government, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:

  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))
    • non-EU countries:
      • listed EEA countries and countries associated to the LIFE Programme (participating countries) or countries which are in ongoing negotiations for an association agreement and where the agreement enters into force before grant signature
  • the coordinator must be established in an eligible country
Project Partner Details

Entities from other countries are exceptionally eligible, if the granting authority considers their participation essential for the implementation of the action (see work programme).

Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legal personality separate from that of the natural person).

International organisations are eligible. The rules on eligible countries do not apply to them.

EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.

Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

Proposals must be complete and contain all the requested information and all required annexes and supporting documents:

  • Application Form Part A — contains administrative information about the participants (future coordinator, beneficiaries and affiliated entities) and the summarised budget for the project (to be filled in directly online)
  • Application Form Part B — contains the technical description of the project (to be downloaded from the Portal Submission System, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded)
  • Part C (to be filled in directly online) containing additional project data
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (to be uploaded):
    • detailed budget table (mandatory excel template available in the Submission System)
    • participant information (mandatory template available in the Submission System)
    • letters of support from competent authorities, if available
    • other annexes, if available.

Page limit - Part B: 50 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details

The available call budget is EUR 3,000,000, out of which:

  • for specific project 1: EUR 500,000
  • for specific project 2: EUR 1,500,000
  • for specific project 3: EUR 1,000,000
Funding rate: up to 90%

Estimated number of projects to be funded: 3
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Contact Details https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/life/about-life/life-contacts_en

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