LIFE: not the one you live, but still the one you need
LIFE is the EU's key programme funding environment, nature and climate action. The LIFE programme was initiated in 1992 and in the period from 1992-2013 co-financed some 3954 projects, amounting to roughly 3 billion Euros in funding. Since then LIFE has taken on new shape, where since 2014 is has been broken down into two sub-programmes: Environment (including priorities areas environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity and governance and information) and Climate Action (including priorities areas adaptation, mitigation and governance and information). Funding can be obtained through projects, which account for 81% of the total budget, or through grants, public procurement, technical assistance, etc. which accounts for the remaining 19%. Overall, for the current period of 2014-2020 LIFE has been designated roughly 3.5 billion Euros in funding for its environment and climate action programmes combined.
Especially in light of societal challenges and changing global settings, and in the interest of good governance, it is important that policies are continually evaluated to ensure that interventions are performing well. The LIFE regulation dictates that specifically the types of interventions, the implementation and the results so far should be evaluated in order to facilitate evidence-based decision making (see Article 27 §2 of the LIFE Regulation for further details).
Generally, evaluation is a tool that supports comprehensive reviews of a given policy area to assess ways in which, in light of lessons learned, steps might be taken to improve in the future. The main criteria for evaluation are dictated by the EU's Better Regulation Guidelines and aim to specifically assess the (i) relevance, (ii) coherence, (iii) efficiency, (iv) effectiveness and (v) EU value-added of interventions. Evaluations can be completed ex-ante, mid-term and ex-post.
In 2016-2017 the mid-term evaluation of the LIFE programme for the period of 2014-2020 was completed by IDEA Consult, together with other partners. As a part of this evaluation, at the mid-way point of the newly restructured LIFE programme, IDEA Consult conducted evaluation interviews with various involved stakeholders including the Commission, NEEMO and beneficiaries of select LIFE co-financed projects in France and Luxembourg. Furthermore, IDEA Consult provided expertise in the priorities area of resource efficiency as well as evaluation expertise on the coherence criteria of the programme.