The LIFE program is EU's primary funding instrument for environmental and climate projects, with the aim of contributing to the development and implementation of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation. The program supports collaborative projects with European added value in climate mitigation, climate adaptation, resource efficiency, implementation of the Species and Habitats Directive and achieving EU's biodiversity targets.
The LIFE program follows the same structure as the EU Framework Program and publishes calls based on multi-annual Work Programs. During the period 2014-2020, LIFE allocated EUR 3.46 billion in project support and will, from 2021, enter a new program period (2021-2027), which is expected to be organized in the same way as before, but where the priority areas may be change.
The LIFE program is currently divided into two parts, one for the environment and one for the climate, which together prioritize the following areas;
- Environmental and resource efficiency
- Nature and biodiversity
- Environmental policy and information
- Limiting climate change
- Climate adaptation
- Climate control and information
Types of funding
The LIFE programme funds European cooperation projects with up to SEK 30 million, for a maximum of five years. There is no requirement for foreign partnerships in LIFE projects, but an application is considered much strengthened by international cooperation, as well as collaboration between academia and other sectors.
In addition to the traditional LIFE projects, there are also four other project types:
- Integrated projects – supports the implementation of environmental or climate plans and strategies on a larger territorial scale (regional, multiregional, national, transnational) when required by specific environmental or climate legislation in the EU.
- Technical support - operational support to help applicants prepare integrated projects.
- Capacity building projects - operational support to enable Member States to participate more effectively in the LIFE program.
- Preparatory projects – support of operating and administrative costs for non-profit organizations active in the environmental or climate field at the EU level.
LIFE normally funds between 55-60 % of the total project cost for an environmental or climate project (including a maximum of 7% for indirect costs), which means that LIFE projects always require a relative high level of co-financing.
Limited support in public organizations for already employed staff through the 2% rule (contact Christer Borglin below for more info).
How to apply
New calls for funding opportunities within the LIFE programme are published once each year, usually in April, with varying deadlines. The structure and evaluation of a proposal to the LIFE programme differs depending on which type of LIFE project you are applying for;
- Traditional LIFE projects and Integrated projects are applied to and evaluated in a two-step process, where a brief project description (concept note) of a maximum of 10 pages is submitted in step 1, followed by a complete application in step 2.
- Capacity building and Preparatory projects are evaluated via a one-step process, and therefore require that a complete application is submitted directly at the time of the deadline.
Applications for traditional LIFE projects should be created and submitted via LIFE's own application portal "eProposal", but the other types of projects use other channels for submission (see EU's page on the LIFE program for the most recent information).
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's role in LIFE
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency coordinates the LIFE programme in Sweden and also offers advice for those who are planning to submit an application to the programme.
The Agency provides a special form ("LIFE idea") on their web site that they want you to use when seeking support or advice for your application;
- Form LIFE idea (Word document 428 KB)
In some cases, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency also offers planning grants (skrivarstöd) for those who are planning to submit an application to the LIFE program. For updated information on this, see the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's website.