Green Europe Hello?

Credit: Vidmantas Kirklys

The EEA and Norway Grants represent Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway’s commitment to stimulating a more sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe, promoting bilateral cooperation and tackling shared challenges. This report highlights how the Donor States’ contributions help to build a better future by making Europe greener, more competitive and more inclusive. This section takes a closer look at the Donors’ contributions to making Europe greener.

The challenge

Climate change, environmental degradation, as well as insufficient sustainable energy and energy security are among the greatest challenges facing Europe.

Climate change alone poses a daunting array of risks, such as rising sea levels, heatwaves, forest fires, droughts, floods and increasing temperatures. The pressure on Europe’s ecosystems caused by intensive agriculture, infrastructure development, pollution and over-exploitation of forests and waters, poses a serious threat to biodiversity, natural resources and, consequently, our quality of life. Climate action is also closely linked to the current energy crisis which has heightened the need for an accelerated roll-out of renewable energy, energy savings and diversification of supplies.

The Grants’ approach

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are dedicated to making a difference for a greener Europe and contributing to the goals laid out in the European Green Deal by funding projects that have a sustainable positive impact on our environment.

The EEA and Norway Grants’ green programmes provide support for transformational change. They make sure the Grants’ Beneficiary States comply with EU requirements for environmental protection, air and water quality, as well as waste management. By bringing together private, public and civil society organisations around these issues, the Grants aim to fast-track the deployment of clean energy technology and more energy-efficient solutions. To make this happen, infrastructure projects are often closely combined with awareness and educational activities to ensure long-term and sustainable change.

Credit: Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia

The European Union’s ambition is to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

This goal is mapped out in the European Green Deal which, simply put, requires a paradigm shift. Both systemic transformations and substantial investments are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help our societies adapt to climate change and change the way resources are used.

Funding green Europe

Making Europe greener is one of the top priorities of the EEA and Norway Grants. This is clearly reflected in the Grants’ three programme areas under the priority sector Environment, Energy, Climate Change and Low Carbon Economy:

  1. Environment and Ecosystems
  2. Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Security
  3. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

The Grants’ programmes are aligned with EU policies and the Beneficiary States’ priorities and needs.

The EEA and Norway Grants complement EU funding schemes by bridging funding gaps for strategic priorities. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway support the Beneficiary States in their efforts to comply with EU legislation and to promote new green concepts and approaches within the circular economy. The Grants’ green programmes also fund feasibility studies, drive the development of methodologies, and build capacity, which in turn enables the Beneficiary States to prepare for larger EU investments.

Finally, the Grants make a significant difference by focusing on specific areas such as hydropower and geothermal energy, working with smaller municipalities in the Beneficiary States, and supporting novel and sometimes experimental approaches.

The green programmes are likely to achieve impactful results in areas such as capacity building, local climate action, EU environmental compliance and innovative solutions for the green transition. In Latvia, for example, the Grants’ funding has resulted in the adoption of a national climate law that will help the country reach its green objectives.

The Grants’ energy programmes, on the other hand, cover a wide range of technologies and solutions. These will allow the Beneficiary States to increase their clean energy generation capacity, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and become more energy efficient.

Partnerships are at the heart of the EEA and Norway Grants.

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Working together

Bilateral cooperation in the green programmes brings significant added value. Strong partnerships help build capacity in the Beneficiary States, both in terms of technical competence and programme and project management. By working together, organisations in the Donor and Beneficiary States can open new markets for businesses, create common solutions, and improve cohesion in Europe.

The Grants also contribute to a Green Europe by supporting a number of bilateral initiatives between the Donor and Beneficiary States. Examples here range from a €2.5 million call for proposals for green transition initiatives in Poland, to lower-budget calls for proposals in Greece which have resulted in a legal framework for offshore wind in the country.

Programme examples

The green portfolio includes 15 programmes with a total budget of €421.1 million. The programmes cover a broad range of topics with the objective of strengthening environmental protection, increasing the share of renewable energy and energy efficiency, ensuring better adaptation to climate change, and assisting the transition towards a low-carbon economy in the Beneficiary States.

An important target group for the green portfolio is municipalities, with programmes aiming at strengthening their capacity and resilience. Bilateral cooperation in the green programmes brings significant added value to this work through both capacity building and implementation of concrete measures.

Reducing marine waste, promoting a circular economy, teaching the next generation to take care of their environment, and helping communities adapt to climate change – these are just a few examples of activities funded by the €13 million environment programme in Bulgaria. Through this programme, Bulgaria is aiming to mitigate climate change both at local and national levels. As many as eight municipalities across Bulgaria are working with a Norwegian partner to achieve this ambitious goal.

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Credit: The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Republic of Latvia
Credit: NFP Bulgaria. Author: Garo Marukyan

Project examples

Sea-heated pool in Dubrovnik

A municipal swimming pool in Dubrovnik, Croatia, is becoming a whole lot greener. With €1.2 million from the EEA Grants, the city is replacing an outdated water boiler with a heat pump system that harnesses the power of the sea to provide continuous, stable and reliable heat.

This will reduce the city’s energy costs for the pool by up to 76% per year. With such results, the concept could easily be scaled up in other sea-front cities in Europe.

Biosphere reserves in Portugal

Biosphere reserves are land or water areas where biodiversity is protected while providing sustainable development for local communities. In Portugal, the project Biosphere Reserves: sustainable territories, resilient communities is bringing people and nature closer together to focus on ecological and social aspects of development and raise awareness around the need to protect our environment. Making use of the expertise from Norway and Iceland, the project brings local solutions to global environmental challenges.

Read more about this project
Credits: FMO

Clean mobility in Alpine Slovenia

Every day, over 5,000 people commute to Trata, an industrial zone located just a few kilometres away from the city centre of the beautiful Alpine town of Škofja Loka in central Slovenia. Around 94% of employees use their cars to travel to work daily. Thanks to the EEA Grants-funded Trata 2.1 project, that is about to change. The Škofja Loka municipality, together with partners from Liechtenstein, is working with businesses in the Trata industrial zone to change their employees’ mobility habits.

Credit: Municipality of Škofja Loka

The EEA and Norway Grants in numbers

Total funding for this area:

€421.1 million1

Total funding for this area: €421.1 million1
3 programme areas
15 programmes
12 Beneficiary States2
672 projects3
43% of projects with Donor project partner4
Indicator Target Achievement
Energy produced from renewable energy sources (RES) (in MWh/year) 85,969 14,135
Estimated annual CO2 emissions reductions 978,716 18,9765
Installed capacity for production of renewable energy (in MW) 34 8
  1. 1.Out of a total of €421.1 million, €318.3 million is from the EEA Grants and €102.8 million from the Norway Grants.
  2. 2.Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia.
  3. 3.Out of the 672 projects, 402 are funded by the EEA Grants and 270 by the Norway Grants.
  4. 4.Among the projects with donor project partners, 29 projects have a partner from Iceland, 5 have a partner from Liechtenstein, and 261 have a partner from Norway.
  5. 5.The estimated annual CO2 emissions reductions (in tonnes) achieved by the EEA Grants was 16,661 tonnes and 2,314 tonnes by the Norway Grants.

Green Europe and the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflect a shared global vision for a peaceful and prosperous world through sustainable and fair development.

Through the Grants, the Donor States empower public authorities, civil society, the private sector and academia in the Beneficiary States to take concrete actions to deliver on the shared commitment to fulfilling the SDGs. Some of the SDGs that the EEA and Norway Grants contribute to under the umbrella of a Green Europe include:

SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy

Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is a goal shared by all the Beneficiary States. While significant progress has been made in developing clean and efficient energy, the uptake of modern technologies can be slow.

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, through the EEA and Norway Grants, support the Beneficiary States in modernising their energy supply chain, increase the use of renewable fuels, and improve access to clean energy.

For example, in the Polish town of Czechnica, to secure the supply of heat and electricity to individual consumers, a local district heat plant is building a new high-efficiency cogeneration unit that will replace coal. In Greece, a municipal stadium will retrofit its energy systems to become a zero-energy consumer. And in Romania, the operator of a small hydropower plant received funding to reach its maximum production capacity, currently hindered by water impurities and a flaw in the initial design.

7: Affordable and clean energy
7: Affordable and clean energy

SDG 13 Climate action

Urgent action is needed to combat climate change and its impacts. Enabling local authorities to develop and integrate adaptation and mitigation strategies is one of the central areas funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Municipalities in the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria and other Beneficiary States are working on local plans to adapt to and mitigate climate change. Measures are implemented to reduce air pollution and prevent urban flooding.

At the same time, the Time Travelers project in Bulgaria is inspiring children to become heroes protecting our planet Earth through a series of comic books.

These are just a few examples of the efforts made across Europe at local, regional and national levels.

SDGs supported by efforts to promote a Green Europe

SDG: 11 SDG: 12 SDG: 14 SDG: 15 SDG: 16