This year, for the first time, the Environmental Investment Centre (EIC) will open application rounds for the European Economic Area (EEA) grants that will help mitigate and adapt to climate change. Donor countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway will direct EUR 6 million to Estonia for the implementation of environmental and climate projects.
‘We want to offer an increasingly attractive living environment to Estonia’s residents, one that is based on a clean, resource-efficient, and competitive economy. Cooperation with the Member States of the European Economic Area will definitely help us to move towards this goal,’ Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder said.
Norwegian Ambassador Else Berit Eikeland confirmed that it is important for Norway to contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals not only in Norway itself, but also in other European countries and globally. ‘Issues involving climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as the development of the circular economy are goals for both Estonian and Norwegian organisations, and cooperation between them is highly welcome,’ the Ambassador added.
According to Andrus Treier, the Head of EIC, it is a pleasure that EIC, as the central funder of projects in the field of the environment and climate, is able to serve as the promoter of the European Economic Area grants and bring additional and valuable international experience to the local government level. ‘For example, we have thus far helped local governments to manage flood risks and plan related construction activities, as well as to develop the circular economy. Now, within the framework of EEA funding programmes, we are supporting applicants in establishing and implementing climate and energy plans, and in the circular economy,’ Treier added.
This year, EIC is planning to open five application rounds with the support of European Economic Area (EEA). As part of the first, local governments will be supported in drawing up climate and energy plans. The aim of the second application round is to contribute to studying and controlling the spread of non-native species and to ensuring the favourable status of native species and habitats. The aim of the third round is to support the development of educational materials to help raise awareness about climate change. The last two rounds are focused on pilot projects for the circular economy and the implementation of climate change measures at the local level. Supported activities include, in particular, integrated solutions, which means that no grant is provided for individual activities. For example, the aim of the second application round is the controlling of previously identified non-native species, which is why these species are already largely provided for in the conditions for granting support.
Depending on the application round, public sector institutions, local governments or institutions managed by it, universities or research institutions are invited to apply. In addition, applicants may have project partners from Estonia and donor countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway. In the course of cooperation, it is possible to exchange experiences and knowledge with other countries.
More specifically, EIC announces the opening of application rounds via its website, social media, and press releases. The operator of the ‘Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation’ programme is the Ministry of the Environment and its partner is the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. In addition, the Norwegian Embassy in Estonia is playing an important role in transnational cooperation.
In accordance with the European Economic Area Enlargement Agreement, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway will support 15 European countries through the EEA Financial Mechanism with EUR 1.548 billion, of which 95.8% will be provided by Norway, 3% by Iceland, and 1.2% by Liechtenstein. The purpose of the grants is to reduce economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area (EEA) and to strengthen bilateral relations between donor and beneficiary countries.
Various programmes in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are funded within the framework of the EEA grants.
During the 2014–2021 funding period, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will contribute EUR 32.3 million to Estonia, of which EUR 6 million will be directed directly to the implementation of environmental and climate projects through the ‘Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation’ programme.