The LIFE Programme

The LIFE programme is the European Union’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. The general objective of the LIFE programme is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation through the co-financing of projects with a high European added value.

The LIFE programme funds innovative projects that demonstrate the effectiveness of new techniques and methodologies in the environmental sector. Alongside the so-called “traditional” projects, LIFE supports “integrated” projects that combine LIFE funding with other sources of funding, in order to maximise their impact on vast geographical areas. LIFE projects can also provide technical assistance, strengthen the development of capacity building and carry out preparatory activities for the development of European environmental legislation. LIFE also supports the initiative of the European solidarity corps, providing opportunities for young people to be involved in activities of environmental and social utility.

The LIFE programme is divided into two Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes. The Environment sub-programme includes the three priority sectors Environment and efficient use of resources, Nature and biodiversity and Governance and information on environmental matters, each of which includes various thematic priorities. The Climate Action sub-programme includes the three priority sectors Climate change mitigation, Adaptation to climate change and Climate governance and information.

Since its inception in 1992, to date four complete cycles of the LIFE programme have been completed (LIFE I: 1992-1995, LIFE II: 1996-1999, LIFE III: 2000-2006 and LIFE +: 2007-2013) and the fifth cycle is currently in progress (2014-2020). During these 25 years, around four thousand projects have been co-financed throughout the European Union, with a contribution of around 3.1 billion euros to environmental protection.

The European Commission with its DG Environment and DG Climate Action has directly managed the entire LIFE programme. During the last cycle, the implementation of many components of the programme was delegated to the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) which relies on the support of external teams for selection, monitoring and communication.