Natura 2000 Award: Call for top nature conservation initiatives

Natura 2000 is the European Union network of protected areas. It consists of an enormous variety of different sites across the continent, aiming to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species, safeguarding them for future generations. It provides a wide range of products and services beneficial to society and the economy. The Natura 2000 network is founded on two pioneering pieces of EU legislation – the 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive – and plays an essential role in halting biodiversity loss in the EU. Today the network, one of the EU’s outstanding achievements, consists of over 27 500 terrestrial and marine sites, covering around 18.6 % of Europe’s land and over 9.5 % of the surrounding seas, across nine biogeographic regions.

The Natura 2000 Award is dedicated to rewarding excellence in the management and promotion of the network and its objectives, and to raising awareness about Natura 2000 and its benefits to European citizens. To this end, in addition to the prizes for five categories attributed by an experts jury, an “EU Citizens’ Award” goes to the application receiving the highest number of preferences through an open public vote on the Award website.

About the Natura 2000 Award 2020

The Award is open to any organisation or person involved in Natura 2000, including public and local authorities, businesses, NGOs, land owners, educational institutions and individuals. The application period runs until 30 September. The Award Ceremony will take place around 21 May 2020, next year’s Natura 2000 Day. The Award is given out in six categories: Conservation; Socio-Economic Benefits; Communication; Reconciling Interests/Perceptions and Cross-Border Cooperation and Networking as well as a European Citizens’ Award. Introduced for the first time in 2015, the Citizens’ Award provides the general public with an opportunity to vote for their favourite project. So far over 100 000 votes were cast between 2015 and 2018.

According to a previous winner, NGO Callisto from Greece, winner of the 2018 Reconciling Interests Award, the award brought a significant increase in attention from local and national media and corresponding interest from the public and decision makers. This has led to increased fundraising opportunities and has had positive effects on helping to achieve the organisations’ nature objectives.

For more information on how to apply, please consult the website: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/awards/how-to-apply/index_en.htm

 

Preparations for the first Interreg NWE impact event underway

NWE Making an Impact!

The Interreg North-West Europe (NWE) programme is pleased to announce its first impact event on 4 and 5 December 2019, which will take place in Tourcoing (Lille agglomeration, Hauts-de-France) at La Chaufferie.

Over a day and a half, this transnational event will focus on the results achieved by the 83 NWE projects funded so far, and how to further support their uptake and impact.

Through a wide variety of sessions and formats, the programme will offer unique opportunities for participants to network, exchange and explore new potential collaborations:

  • An opening plenary session will open the discussion on the programme’s result orientation and the need to maximise the impact of projects throughout the NWE territory.
  • The project forum and exhibition area will constitute a dynamic and interactive networking platform, where NWE beneficiaries will have the opportunity to showcase their work and the changes they brought in North-West Europe.
  • Site visits in the Lille agglomeration will allow participants to discover what some NWE projects have achieved on the ground on various topics ranging from social innovation to circular economy.
  • Thematic workshops on some of the main topics addressed by our programme (such as health, energy efficiency, green constriction, marine energy…), will give the floor to project partners to discuss their needs, find synergies and elaborate ideas for further cooperation.
  • New support opportunities to further rollout project results and ensure their uptake will be presented.

“NWE Making an impact!” is aimed at project partners as well as decision makers at European, National and Local level. Registration will open early September. Further information is available on www.nweurope.eu Save the date and stay tuned!

Interreg NPA – final call

Interreg NPA Secretariat launched the programme’s seventh and last call for main project applications, which remains open until 30th September 2019. For the Seventh call for main applications, the Monitoring Committee has agreed to three Strands:

  1. Main project target only to Priority Axis 2, Specific Objective 2.2 and Priority Axis 4.
  2. Capitalisation projects: applications under this Strand will have to focus on three alternative experimental approaches (Rollout, Policy Influencer, Transnationalisation) capitalising on the achievements of previously successful NPA projects.
  3. Disruptive technologies projects: projects to explore the practical application of new technologies to existing industries.

Terms of Reference have been formulated encouraging applicants to address specific actions, target groups, and sectors. The Terms of Reference can be found in the announcement document. The Monitoring Committee will decide on Seventh Call applications on 5th December 2019.

In order to support applicants, the Joint Secretariat is organising two webinars. The first webinar will be held on 4th July at 12:00 Copenhagen time via Facebook live. The date of the second webinar will be announced in due course.

 

 

European Week of Regions and Cities 2019 is around the corner!

European Week of Regions and Cities – a Yearly Regional Conference held in Brussels

The 2019 European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC), organised by the European Commission in partnership with the Committee of the Regions, will take place in Brussels from October 7th to 10th.

European Week of Regions and Cities in a Nutshell

At the beginning of October, over 6000 participants and speakers from all over Europe will gather together in Brussels for a programme of over 150 working sessions, exhibitions and networking events on regional and local development.

An annual event, EWRC brings together representatives from local and regional authorities, EU networks, universities and private practitioners working on regional and urban policies to showcase how regions and cities can tackle key challenges to implement the objectives of Cohesion Policy.

Each edition of EWRC targets varying thematic priorities, with this year’s edition focusing on:

  • The future of the EU and the roles of regions and cities
  • A Europe closer to citizens
  • A greener Europe
  • A more socially integrated Europe
  • A smarter Europe
  • A more connected Europe.

We are pleased to announce that Galway 2020 Capital of Culture will host a session as part of the official EWRC programme on 8th October. Together with colleagues from Danish and Dutch regions, Galway will share their experiences on the link between regional development and culture.

Previous editions also showed strong presence from Irish regional and local authorities, including Sligo County Council co-partnering in a session on solidarity and volunteering; Donegal County Council participating in a session on internationalization of SMEs via Interreg Europe; and Northern Western Regional Assembly sharing experiences from the European Entrepreneurial Regions initiative.

As a yearly tradition, the EWRC also hosts the REGIOSTARS Ceremony, which this year will take place on 9th October. An annual Cohesion Policy award, REGIOSTARS honours EU-funded projects demonstrating excellence and new approaches in regional development.

How to get involved?

There is still time to get involved and host a session! The organisers are accepting applications for side events relating to the thematic priorities of EWRC and the online application forms are available on the EWRC website.

More sessions with the participation of Irish local and regional authorities will become known with the publication of the official EWRC programme, which is now available online, along with the registration forms. Participants wishing to attend are asked to create an EU Login before proceeding to register for their selected sessions (details available here).

The European Commission also launched #EURegionsWeek which provides news and updates on the conference and allows participants to already engage in discussions on all social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

 

 

Urban Innovative Actions – ahead of Call 5

Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) will launch its fifth and final call in September. Managed by the French Region Hauts-de-France and part of the ERDF, the overarching mission of the programme is to identify innovative and creative solutions which ‘address issues related to sustainable urban development and are of relevance at Union level’. 

According to the UIA, the main aim of the programme is to provide urban authorities across Europe with space and resources to test unproven ideas addressing interconnected challenges and examine how these respond to the complexity of real life. Projects to be supported need to be innovative, of good quality, designed and implemented with the involvement of key stakeholders, result oriented and transferable. 

UIA encourages urban authorities to move from normal, mainstream ERDF projects and take the risk to transform creative ideas into prototypes that can be tested in real urban settings. The UIA has the capability to support projects that are too risky for traditional funding sources, provided that they are highly experimental.

WHAT ARE THE PROPOSED TOPICS FOR 5TH CALL?

Ahead of the call, the UIA Secretariat has already published the four priority topics for the call, along with their individual descriptions:

  1. Culture and Cultural Heritage, with particular attention given to projects going beyond cultural production or intervention in buildings. This priority encourages projects that offer participatory approaches to decision-making, co-creation and co-implementation as well as promoting local employment through cultural heritage or expanding sustainable tourism models;
  2. Demographic Change, welcoming projects addressing challenges such as outward migration, rural demographic reduction or aging population through development of society 5.0, strengthening active labour force or stimulating local entrepreneurship;
  3. Air Quality, including innovative approaches to clean commuting, testing methodologies to integrate air quality in local climate and energy strategies, testing ways to stimulate cultural and behavioural change in stakeholders and citizens in relation to air quality;
  4. Circular economy, focusing on projects particularly related to water waste – to make waste water collection and treatment plants climate-neutral, reducing energy consumption, exploiting full potential of the re-use of urban waste water, better water use efficiency.

Culture and Cultural Heritage as well as Demographic Change are topics which have not been used before. Circular Economy and Air Quality served as topics in calls 2 and 3 respectively; therefore, prospective applicants are invited to consult projects that have already been approved.

WHO CAN APPLY?

According to the Terms of Reference for previous calls, the following bodies are eligible to apply:

  • Any urban authority of a local administrative unit defined according to the degree of urbanization as city, town or suburb comprising at least 50,000 inhabitants;
  • Any association or grouping of urban authorities of local administrative units defined according to the degree of urbanization as city, town or suburb where the total population is at least 50,000 inhabitants. This include cross-border associations of different regions between Member States.

In Ireland the counties are considered as eligible urban authorities under the category “organized agglomerations”. In this case the county can be a Main Urban Authority provided that the majority of the population is living in municipalities (LAUs) composing the county and considered by Eurostat as cities or suburbs/towns (code 1 or 2). Specific exemptions or caveats may be applicable to particular priorities once the call is published.

Questions regarding eligibility should be directed towards the UIA secretariat at an early stage. Similarly to previous calls, the secretariat will likely organise applicant seminars in due course.

The date of the call launch as well as relevant application documents will soon be published on the UIA website.

2019 LIFE calls now open

Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It influences national economies and impacts on lives, people, communities and countries. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, weather events are becoming more extreme and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. The European Union supports climate action and environmental and nature protection not only through its commitment to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but also through its funding instruments. Climate action and transition to low-carbon economy is and will continue to be a priority for the EU, present in its strategies as well as financing priorities.

The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding programme dedicated to support environment, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the Union.

The 2019 LIFE calls are now open with a wide range of projects and topics covered.

Environment sub-programme, funding nature conservation projects in particular in the areas of biodiversity, habitats and species:

Climate action sub-programme, supporting projects in the areas of renewable energies, energy efficiency, farming, land use and peatland management:

Operating grants for NGOs:

LIFE helps to make the application of EU environmental and climate legislation and policies consistent across the EU, exchange best practices, transfer know-how and make better use of project results. The programme provides action grants for pilot and demonstration projects to develop, test and demonstrate policy or management approaches. Projects creating technologies and solutions that are ready to be implemented are particularly welcomed by the European Commission.

Support services are in place to help applicants and those considering applying for funding to navigate through the fund. Each EU Member State has its national contact points across the various sub-programmes to help with your application.

Full description of the sub-programmes and application details can be found on the European Commission’s website. The IREO is keen to provide further information on LIFE and you may contact us here.

 

 

 

Open Call for Civil Society Projects

The EU is made of citizens and for citizens, and that is why encouraging and facilitating their wilder involvement in the EU is of great importance. Europe is facing a challenging agenda for the years to come and it is now paramount for citizens to participate in discussions that help to shape EU policies.

EU’s Europe for Citizens Programme aims to ”contribute to citizens’ understanding of the EU, its history and diversity and to encourage the democratic participation of citizens at EU level”. It is an important instrument aimed at getting citizens to play a greater part in the development of the Union. The programme recently launched a call for proposals for projects under Strand 2: Democratic engagement and civic participation. Up to €3.7 in funding is available for civil society projects.

A Civil Society Project must include at least two of the following types of activities:

  • Promotion of societal engagement and solidarity: activities promoting debate/campaigns/actions on themes of common interest in the framework of the rights and responsibilities of the Union
    citizens and making the link to the European political agenda and policy making process.
  • Gathering of opinions: activities aiming at gathering the individual opinions of the citizens favouring a bottom up approach (including the use of social networks, webinars, etc.) and media literacy.
  • Volunteering: activities promoting solidarity among Union citizens and beyond.

Applicants must be either public bodies or non-profit organisations with legal personality. This will be the programme’s last call for 2019.

Ireland has great track record in the Programme, with projects spanning from democratic engagement, twinning towns, historical awareness or civil participation. An interactive map of projects across all Member States in the EU is available on the European Commission’s website.

The deadline for applications is September 2nd – and all relevant documentation can be accessed via the call’s website.

Second call – WiFi4EU

The date of the second call of the WiFi4EU voucher initiative has been announced for 04 April 2019 at 13:00 CEST. With a call budget of EUR 51 million, the Commission will distribute 3,400 vouchers across European municipalities on a first come, first served basis.

In order to be able to apply for the EUR 15,000 voucher, municipalities need to register on the WIFi4EU Portal before the call. The voucher will allow the winning municipality to set up free Wi-Fi networks in public spaces. The call will be open until 17:00 CEST on 05 April 2019. For this call, the maximum number of vouchers per participant Member State has been raised from 8% to 15% of the budget of the call.

The previous call saw 44 successful Irish applications from a number of County and City Councils and municipalities are free to select the WiFi installation company of their choice.

Click here for the registration form.

Promoting energy efficiency – EU Sustainable Energy Week

The Policy Conference, European Sustainable Energy Week, is the biggest European conference dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use in Europe. Sessions organised by the European Commission and energy stakeholders focus on sustainable energy issues, debate new policy developments, best practices and sustainable energy ideas.

Carrying the momentum of the 13th edition, the 14th edition on 17-21 June 2019 will feature interactive sessions and activities. The Policy Conference includes a Networking Village and the EUSEW Awards Ceremony. Throughout May and June 2019, numerous Energy Days will take place throughout Europe, signifying local and regional contribution to the EU’s climate and energy goals.

Taking place in Brussels between 18-19 June, the EU Sustainable Energy Week is the ideal platform for local and regional authorities, public bodies and private stakeholders to come together and discuss all matters relating to resource efficiency. It is the perfect opportunity to meet stakeholders promoting energy efficiency and renewable energies, learn about successful policies and inspire innovation to meet the EU’s energy and climate goals. Furthermore, the week will also see a number of awards presented to outstanding projects in the area of resource sustainability.

Registration and agenda is available on the official EUSEW website.

 

iCapital Award launches for the 5th time!

Cities and towns are the backbone of our ecosystems, providing favourable conditions for the strengthening of innovation, resilience and sustainability.

The EU recognises cities with inclusive innovation ecosystems by awarding the European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital). In its 5th edition, the iCapital prize enables European cities to showcase their contribution to developing local innovation ecosystems for the benefit of businesses and the well-being of their citizens. The award is managed by European Commission’s Directorate General for Research & Innovation.

An annual cash prize is awarded to the European city that is best able to demonstrate its ability to harness innovation to improve the lives of its citizens. This particularly includes cities that contribute to open and dynamic innovation ecosystems; involve citizens in governance and decision-making, and’ use innovation to improve the resiliency and sustainability of their cities.

The prize value to the named city is €1 million, with €100,000 for each of the five runner-up cities. The award also recognises a number of finalist cities specially acknowledged for their efforts in promoting innovation.

Cities with at least 100,000 inhabitants, in a Member State associated to Horizon 2020, are eligible to apply.

More details on the selection criteria as well as previous success stories can be found on the iCapital website.

Closing date is 9th June!