1st day – 8 of May 2016
Departure in the morning from Airport Ferihegy, arrival in Madrid, early afternoon. Accommodation occupied at about 5 p.m. and we spent this Sunday evening with rest and walk in the city.
2nd day – 9 of May 2016
Our first work day. We arrived at the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture. Here we had been greeted by the Spanish LIFE National Contact Points and by the hand of department responsible for competitions. Elena Barrios NCP delivered the first lecture of a common LIFE report saying the system of the national contact is centralized in Spain, everyone equally is working at the ministry. Their main tasks are the protection of beneficiaries, dissemination, and evaluation of competition calls. The website of the ministry has been introduced, the LIFE source in detail.
The NCP-s, the presentation of the successful LIFE projects, the partner search can be found on their website. There are summaries about info days, workshops, and special section of financial assets, too. Applications are not to be translated into Spanish since half of them are written in English.
Elena mentioned the support of candidates too. Six of them are working in this area, two internal staffs move the program and as well the Head of Department, resp. four external staffs work part time. The budgets of work make 150 million Euros yearly.
The incoming requests, questions arrive on email address or on one of their 6 phone numbers. In addition, personal consultation is held in the tender period. On the website there is a project idea Form, which is to be filled in and after this a personal meeting can take place but only in that case the applicant has a concrete idea and that is accepted by the NCP-s. There is no way to review every single competition as nearly 250 applications arrive yearly therefore only the most likely are to be dealt with in detail. If the application is received one week prior deadline will not be considered.
The ministry has its own internal data base and since 1992 each LIFE project idea applied for can be found. Every year EB visits them to discuss all difficulties of the projects. The goal is to better communicate the results, to follow up the competitions already set off, communication is important for them. Much emphasis is placed on the national team training. Each member of their team has considerable experience with LIFE.
Their success is clear since, in spite of the economic crisis (or precisely due to it) the number of winning projects had grown between 2011 and 2013. 4 proposals had been submitted in 2014 for integrated projects. In their opinion the topic of environment, within that the water could be considered popular.
The Head of Department described the important three points of the apparatus saying the NCP-s are organized in horizontal system, each subprogram has its own responsible. He stressed the importance of teamwork and the third point is the information, holding information days, however LIFE is widely known in Spain. When someone wins LIFE project it means a matter of pride.
It is important to note that neither the ministry, nor any other state body will not assist creating sources of money, the applicants have to raise that themselves.
Thereafter one-one brief lecture was held from two successful companies. The first was a non-profit company, the Biodiversity Foundation. Just like the HDC they belong to the ministry and manage many projects. Fifty people work, five for LIFE. They meet repeatedly with the staff of the ministry, there is ongoing consultation between them. They were talking about their five projects, one of them happened to win 15 millions of Euros! They deal with rescue of protected animal species, preservation of the marine environment. At present the main goal for them is to gain a successful integrated project.
The other organization was the SEO Birdlife International commanding informational projects. In this context they organize Natura 2000 days yearly, with different community programs, prepare TV and radio broadcasts of the people who live and act in the areas of Natura 2000. It made a series of program for the TV. They have a powerful mass media and also promotional campaign was organized in supermarkets.
Following the reviews the programme was over. The visitors of 10 persons have parted and we, five persons, continued our way with the team of MA who deal with environmental issues. Our train started for Valencia at 5.50 p.m.
3rd Day – 10 May 2016
The work began early at 7.30 a.m. when we travelled to the industrial district Valencia Paterna.
The first visit was at CEAM, their project name was „Photocity Tex”. Their development tool gives solution to the problem of air pollution that is a photocatalytic material being able to grasp air pollutions. They experiment in a chamber collecting sunlight. Contamination can be measured by the light. This is easy to do in Valencia as 200 days of sun shines could be observed. Their aim is to prove the tool is working. Two premises were chosen for that, a school and a highway tunnel. Here they measured the air pollution for one year. After the measurement the materials were washed out and the harmful substances of the water show the air pollution of the territories. Since the substances are photocatalytic they succeeded to reduce the air pollution, e.g. the NO measure by 100 percent! Now they are in the second year of the three-year project.
The next venue was the company AIDIMA where the project Woodrub was presented. The company is manufacturing of wood products. The industrial rubber waste is mixed with wood, a new substance is produced by this which is suitable for replacement of different equipment e.g. playground rubber wrappers. Some products are already on the online market, their main market area is the EU but South America is inquiring after Woodrub too.
Thereafter we had visited AINIA Non-profit Ltd. The building actually serves as an experimental lab as well where we were driven around. Primarily they deal with experimentation of food and beauty products however they have a biogas lab too. They had lectured on their several successful programs in Brussels.
In 2010, their project about the use of ozone in the food industry had been included among the 23 best projects. One of their other projects runs on production of biogas, biofuels and 1.5 million Euros were for support. They had a program of „eco-hygienic „ design but they are developing such wrapping in the framework of another project which is protecting the environment by less carbon-use packaging materials. Another program is trying to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide on rice cultivation. The company carries out wide-ranging work and it seemed to have a great experience in managing LIFE projects.
Our last station was at AIMME. They had developed an integrated business model in their project aiming the conversion of bio-waste into renewable energy. The company itself is working in metal industry they are developing methods not products. They competed in 2014 they started to work one year later from 700 000 Euros. The project is still going on. This makes a new possibility for biogas production.
We had finished the visits of venues at about 6.00 p.m. and we departed back to Valencia.
4th Day – 11 May 2016
Our day started at the centre of Valencia where we had visited the House Crafts. Here we were received by the next partner, the Economic Ministry under the Valencia province. They manage the project Green Commerce which enjoys great popularity in the region. This was only announced in Spain. The essence of the project is that the 17million employees coming from 4 million Spanish small businesses become accustomed to sustainable lifestyles trade. They said to be a context between trade and environmental protection. Wholesalers have long been engaged in environmental work however it has not quite reached the small businesses. In turn, small businesses have more impact on customers too. Therefore there is a greater responsibility on them. An energy and cost-effective operation have been introduced by the project. The retailers were taught simple techniques (e.g. using LED bulbs) and they have developed a software by which companies can measure their environmental awareness of the business. Who evaluated themselves may seek advice from project managers how they could be more effective. At the end of the process they will issue a report whether it managed to introduce an energy-efficiency system in the business. Within the project 316 retails received appreciative qualification. It is important to mention that this idea, however the program had been completed in 2012, lives on. More and more retailers committed to sustainability and these businesses will become more competitive. Local governments joined the work process. Today every office there has a „sustainability responsible „who deals with retails. This project was rewarded „Best of best „in 2014.
In the afternoon we had visited Diputació de Valencia where we heard a summary of the project ECOVITRUM. The idea of the project was born in 2008 and had been realized with a Hungarian partner (Electro-Cord Ltd.). The project focus on electronic waste and deals with their recycling. The consumed computers, televisions get to collection points and some parts will be recycled. However some parts, the so-called CRT substances, (e.g. barium, strontium) did not have right method of recycling. The institute have developed a solution for that using more than 2 million Euros support. It turned out in the industry mostly the ceramic industry could benefit from these substances therefore from CRT waste ceramic bases, coverings are produced. This we had inspected too. From the material walls and other surfaces could be reverted. The product has been already produced. Inter alia the US is also interested. Between 2010-2016 some 420 000 equipment were recycled by such proceedings! The project had been included in the project of „Best of LIFE Environment”.
Our visit was at once recorded on the Internet by the company. Photography was also taken about the partners.
In conclusion we received a business lunch with Spanish specialities ending their warm welcome and we set off the train to Barcelona.
5th Day – 12 May 2016
Our last working day was in a small town Terrassa, near Barcelona. We were received by LEITAT Non-profit Ltd. in the morning. They were prepared to offer us a whole day project description, lab visit and lunch.
The company itself has a long history it was founded in 1906 their goals were the dissemination of good exercises and methods on social and economic domains. Their project management is highly advanced 20 project managers are working for the company having each doctoral degree in project management. The professionals are divided into sub areas by topic.
Their first introduced project was the Green Books which was finished in 2013. The program targeted the environmentally conscious book release on printing and distribution field The project came from a book trading event testing the costs of publishing and they realized how much were the unnecessary spending. They prepared a Guideline (BookDaPer) to optimize the expenses for publishers, readers and interest groups. The software is available on the Internet even today because every bookseller would like to reduce and optimize their costs thus protecting the environment. The dissemination of the project was also successful by reusing the leaflets (e.g. they could have been converted into bookmark or CD case).
In the field of health they had another LIFE project (BoHealth) developing a software and health institutions may register to learn the program. The software is measuring the costs and raise environmental awareness.
They also have a project in the wool industry (WDS), which is calling for ECO-wool production.
Moreover, they have projects in the fields of water or auto recycling. After the project presentations they gave us a lot of good advices: how to search for a partner or how to organize a project. They told us, there is no need for a big consortium in the LIFE projects but at least 6 months are needed for organize a whole project – from the idea until the administration. The suggested us to keep everything what we promised in the Grant Agreement. At the partner search, it is important to find a company in which we can trust.
Our study day ended with a mini visiting tour. The LEITAT colleagues showed us the whole building, with all of the laboratories and offices. We saw for example 3D printer, or chemical laboratory. We could set up a good relationship with our project partners (we are in touch since our visit), I think we gave them a good impression.
For me this study trip ended with positive results. I saw, that these programmes are really successful, and they catch also the public. They help us to change the attitude, and take more attention to save our environment. We don’t have to be a project manager our laboratory worker, we can also do small steps for a sustainable world.
Photos about the event can be seen in the Photo Gallery of our website.