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

The programme funds innovative projects that demonstrate efficacy in new environmental techniques and methodologies. Along with “traditional” projects, LIFE supports “integrated” projects which combine LIFE funding with other funding sources, so as to maximise their impact on wider geographical areas.

Moreover, the LIFE projects can provide technical assistance, strengthening capacity-building and carrying out preparatory activities in drawing up EU environmental legislation.

As well, LIFE supports the European Solidarity Corps initiative, providing the opportunity for young people to be involved in environmentally and socially useful activities.

The LIFE programme is divided into two sub-programmes – one for the Environment and one for Climate Action.

The sub-programme Environment includes three priorities:

  1. Environment and the efficient use of resources
  2. Nature and biodiversity
  3. Governance and environmental information.

Each of these include various issue priorities.

From its launch in 1992 to today, four full cycles of the LIFE programme have been completed – LIFE I: 1992-1995, LIFE II: 1996-1999, LIFE III: 2000-2006 and LIFE +: 2007-2013. A fifth cycle is still underway (2014-2020). During these 25 years, approximately 4,000 projects have been co-funded throughout the European Union, with a contribution of about €3.1 billion for environmental protection.

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