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Knowledge category: Funding and financing


Updated on 03.03.2023

LIFE is a programme intended for the co-financing of pilot or roll-out/demonstration of innovative technologies in the respective sub-programmes aimed at the environment and climate action.

Financial entity: European Commission
Contact: via contact form  

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

The circular economy, including the recovery of resources from waste, is one of the key pillars of LIFE. The LIFE Programme has a large assembly of calls through which public authorities (including local and regional authorities) can apply to fund their Circular Systemic Solutions or their specific components and elements. LIFE has the following types of Action Grants: Strategic Integrated Projects (SIP), Strategic Action Projects (SAP), Strategic Nature Projects (SNAP), Technical Assistance projects (TA), and Other Actions (OA). Depending on the objective, most project types may be useful for cities and regions. For example, SIP can be used to support implementation of a local Circular Economy Action Plan or other relevant strategies or roadmaps, while SAP can be used to develop, demonstrate and promote specific innovative techniques, methods and approaches directly related to a Circular Systemic Solution or its component/element. More details on the most relevant types of projects are provided below.

  • SIP projects support implementation (on a regional, multi-regional, national or transnational scale) of environmental or climate strategies or action plans developed by Member States' authorities and required by specific environmental, climate or relevant EU energy legislation or policy of the Union, while ensuring that stakeholders are involved and promoting coordination with and mobilisation of at least one other Union, national or private funding source. For example, under the sub-programme 'Circular Economy and Quality of Life', cities and regions can use SIPs to implement a variety of strategies and plans, including regional Circular Economy Action Plans, strategies, roadmaps (or similar) and regional waste management plans.


  • TA projects can be used by cities and regions for the technical preparation of a SIP as well as for preparing to facilitate the up-scaling and replication of results from other projects funded by the LIFE Programme (for example, projects that developed certain components/elements that are useful to advance and integrate as part of a Circular Systemic Solution).


  • SAPs are projects that can be used by cities and regions to address other objectives related to the development and implementation of Circular Systemic Solutions, including: developing, demostrating and promoting innovative methods and approaches; developing, implementing, monitoring and enforcing the relevant Union legislation and policy, including by improving governance at all levels; or catalysing the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions.


  • Among OA are 'LIFE Preparatory Projects - Projects addressing ad hoc Legislative and Policy Priorities (PLP)', which can also provide relevant opportunities. These are additional projects responding to the EU legislative and policy priorities determined annually following a consultation with Member States.

Applicant criteria

LIFE is open to any public or private organisation legally registered in the European Union (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs)) or countries associated to the LIFE Programme (participating countries).

Eligible projects/themes

The LIFE programme is divided into four sub-programmes:

  • Nature and Biodiversity;
  • Circular Economy and Quality of Life;
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation;
  • Clean Energy Transition.

Amount of funding

The total budget of LIFE is € 5.4 billion for the period 2021-2027. The budget for projects ranges from € 2 million to € 4 million per project.

Application process

LIFE applications can be single or two-stage processes. Most of the proposals relevant for the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative are two-stage, with a 10-page expression of interest and then a full application if selected for the second stage. If single stage, a full proposal is requested. A full proposal includes administrative forms and a technical form (Part B). Annexes of max. 10 MB can be included in a single document of Part B. More details to support applicants can be found by following the link:


The deadline depends on a specific call. Typical deadline periods are September/October, January, and April. The current LIFE programme will run until 2027.

Financing type

Grants & subsidies

Territories involved

Rural areas

<5 000


large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000

Metropolitan areas

large metropolitan area >1.5 million, metropolitan area 1.5 million-500 000



predominantly urban regions, intermediate and predominantly rural regions, refer to TERCET typology NUTS 3 region




Intra-territorial areas

Industrial zones

Agricultural zones

Brown field zones

Coastal areas

Mountain areas


Cross-border areas


Water areas


e.g. commercial, residential, service, industrial