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Frontpage News 2010 Green priorities 2009-14

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Green priorities 2009-14

Environmental protection, fighting climate change and promoting green industry are green priorities under the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14. Sustainable development will be a key cross-cutting criterion.

According to the Agreed Minutes, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will in the period 2009-14 make available close to €1.79 billion to reduce social and economic disparities in the European Economic Area and to strengthen their bilateral relations with the 15 beneficiary states. Environmental protection, climate change and sustainable development will be key areas of support. In addition, the principle of sustainable development shall be applied in all areas and implementing phases.

Under the new EEA Grants, the "green" priority sectors are environmental protection and management, and climate change and renewable energy, while carbon capture and storage (CCS), and green industry innovation are priority sectors under the new Norway Grants. The other priority sectors are research and scholarships, protection of cultural heritage, civil society, promotion of decent work and tripartite dialogue, justice and home affairs, and human and social development.

Fighting climate change
The fight against climate change has become an increasingly important priority both at a global and a European level. In the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14, the reduction of greenhouse gases is specifically targeted through the priority sectors for climate change and renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage.

This lays the ground for an even more targetet approach to these issues, which were also important under the EEA and Norway Grants 2004-09. According to a new review, 164 projects contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases were awarded €114,6 million in support during the previous grant period.

The largest part of the funding was focused on improving the energy efficiency of public buildings. An independent review from 2009 concluded that there was a vast replication potential for such projects.

Preserving biodiversity
An area which received modest but important support during 2004-09 was the preservation of biodiversity. A new review calls for more attention to biodiversity issues within public authorities and among the public in the beneficiary states, a challenge to both the donor and beneficiary states to be aware of for the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14.

The challenge of increasing public awareness of biodiversity issues was one of the topics discussed at an international seminar on the EEA and Norway Grants and environmental sustainability in Brussels on 11 May 2010, gathering some 50 representatives from the donor and beneficiary states. The seminar was aimed at sharing experiences and lessons learned from the EEA and Norway Grants 2004-2009 in order to identify potentials for improvements under the new financial contributions in the period 2009-14.

Photo: Civil Society Development Foundation (NROS).