Blog: EU Life Integrated Projects – What did we learn?
Natural Course attends workshop on LIFE Integrated Projects in Helsinki
We caught up with Daniel – who attended on behalf of Natural Course – to find out more.
As Project Manager for Natural Course, I am fortunate to be part of a fantastic community of LIFE Integrated Projects, so it was a great privilege to be able to attend a recent event in Helsinki hosted by the Finnish Ministry of Environment.
After a warm welcome from Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, we also heard from colleagues at the Directorate-General for the Environment about the future of the LIFE programme. This set us up perfectly for the days ahead.
The purpose of the event was to reach a communal understanding on how successful LIFE integrated projects have been – from the project leaders themselves. With attendance from 49 participants, representing 46 integrated projects, from 22 countries; this event presented the chance for us all to share our collective experiences and provide meaningful feedback. We wanted to turn our data in to wisdom!
We discussed what works well, what can be improved and how those improvements could be brought about. After undertaking a self-assessment, reviewing the combined results and workshopping solutions, some our main conclusions included:
- Placing greater value on the catalytic effect that integrated projects can provide by improving the trajectory to implementation, even if full implementation of a targeted plan or strategy is not achieved
- Being more open-minded to expanding the scope of our project monitoring to include some of the less traditional / less-measurable benefits brought about by implementation, e.g., behavioural change or improvements to health and wellbeing
- Working together to find the best balance of reporting project results, possibly simplifying some of the reporting metrics to ensure that meaningful and useful data is being provided, with a particular emphasis on how the value of complementary funding / activity can be better captured.
Since their introduction in 2014, there are now 70 integrated projects with a combined budget of €1.27billion, covering 26 countries, that have made use of an additional €30billion complementary funding from a range of EU, National and Private sector sources. And with the future funding for the LIFE programme standing at €5.4billion (€615million for integrated and nature projects), the event was a great opportunity for those with lived experience of integrated projects to ensure that provided feedback to help shape the importance and continued success of the LIFE programme.
After some intensive workshops it was also a pleasure to be able to visit some of the LIFE integrated project delivery sites in Finland, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing and hearing first-hand about how integrated projects are making a real world difference.
Networking events always have the added benefit of being able to discuss individual project successes, challenges and opportunities for future collaboration, and I was lucky enough to meet many counterparts and do just that, so I look forward to working closely together again in the near future.