LIFE is the European Union’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU, as well as in some candidate, accession and neighbouring countries.

Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed around 3104 projects, contributing approximately with 2.2 billion Euros for the protection of the environment.
Launched by the European Commission in 1992, LIFE (the financial instrument for the environment) is one of the spearheads of the European Union’s environmental policy. LIFE contributes to the implementation, development and improvement of Community environmental policy and legislation, as well as to the integration of environmental concerns into other EU policies. LIFE supports the development of new solutions to environmental problems facing the EU and helps implement Community policy as defined in the Sixth Environment Action Programme.
Projects financed by LIFE must meet the following general criteria:

(a) Present a Community interest and contribute significantly to the general objective

(b) be carried out by technically and financially sound participants

(c) be feasible in terms of technical proposals, timetable, budget and cost-effectiveness

In Spain, over the last 14 years, the LIFE programme has financed 387 projects, 196 of which have focused on environmental innovation and 188 on nature protection.

The programme is divided into three components: LIFE-Environment, LIFE-Nature and LIFE-Third Countries, each focusing on a different aspect.

LIFE-Environment co-finances innovative demonstration projects in the field of the environment in the European Union and the candidate countries. Its aim is to fill the gap between the results of research and development on the one hand and their application on a large scale on the other, with particular emphasis on the dissemination of results. Five areas are eligible for funding: land use and planning; water management; reduction of the environmental impact of economic activities; waste management; and reduction of the environmental impact of products through an integrated product policy.

LIFE-Nature co-finances projects that aim to restore and conserve threatened natural habitats and protect species in the European Union. The objective of LIFE-Nature is to contribute to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives by focusing on habitats and species that are part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network. This network includes Sites of Community Interest (SCIs) for individual species and habitats and Special Protection Areas for birds (SPAs). It is a unique effort by EU Member States to protect and conserve Europe’s nature and biodiversity.
The specific objective of LIFE-Third Countries is to contribute to the establishment of capacities and administrative structures needed in the environmental field and in the development of environmental policies and action programmes in third countries bordering on the Mediterranean or the Baltic Sea other than the countries of Central and Eastern Europe which have concluded Association Agreements with the European Community.

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