Projects & themes

Interreg North-West Europe supports cooperation across borders in 7 countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland) by funding projects involving partners with a joint approach to tackle common issues. 

The aim is to reduce the disparities among regions and raise the overall level of performance across the whole area.

The thematic scope of the Programme covers aspects of the green, smart and just transition with the aim to support a balanced development and territorial resilience.

We are currently financing 46 projects in 2021-2027.  See below specific information about the themes covered by the NWE Programme as well as the full list of projects.


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Real-time “interactive storage” quality control in fresh agro products (QCAP)

The agri-food sector is an important industrial sector in the NWE region and has a high economic and social value. However, a significant part of the fruit and vegetables production is lost, due to spoilage/degradation during handling/storage/transportation between farm and distribution. Monitoring of product-produced indicators via an interactive storage system (ISS) in the storage atmosphere is a promising way to gain better control over the quality of the stored produce. There is, however, limited collaboration between innovation stakeholders (research institutes, industry, SMEs, end-users) on a transnational level that limits the development/broad implementation of the interactive storage system for different fresh products and in different regions.Currently, no equipment is available to reliably measure the relevant volatiles with sufficient sensitivity in the storage atmosphere in a simple and cost-effective way. Currently at TRL4, the main outputs of QCAP will be the development of a prototype of the interactive storage system and an interactive storage system validated in real life, commercial conditions (at TRL6) in Germany (apples/blueberries), UK (potatoes) and Belgium (pears).Long term effects: Using the ISS, growers/retailers will be able to gain EUR 60-100 million/yearly (estimated) in the NWE region, due to a 3-5% reduction of losses in fresh produce, using this highly innovative system.In addition, QCAP will lead to 32 sustainable and long-term cooperations between organisations from the agri-food and high-tech sector on a transnational level and increased profits of organisations in agri-food and photonics sector due to sales of 10000 systems and technologies (NWE) in new markets.Thus, QCAP will support cooperation between regions and create critical mass to enhance innovation performance of organizations in the NWE region.Below you see the QCAP consortium members during the Kick-Off Meeting

Status : ongoing

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Offshore for Direct Citizens' Participation

The EU “Clean Energy for All Europeans”-package promotes increased citizens’ uptake of renewable energy through citizens’ ownership. Citizens’ Renewable Energy cooperatives (REScoops) can provide both and they already do so Onshore. Offshore, however, only financial participation is possible now, as national authorities' tenders reserve ownership for big companies. In the O4DCP countries, the big leap of renewable electricity must come from the big Offshore wind farms as Onshore lacks space and encounters protests. Without new Offshore wind electricity, REScoops are unable to fulfil the exploding demand for their fair-priced electricity for their regions. At the moment there is no access to the off shore wind energy for REScoops due to technical, financial, and organisational barriers. Access to off shore wind by citizens and SME’s will benefit the regions where they are active economically and socially. REScoops play an important role in the energy transition. • REScoops focus on a just energy transition. Including all citizens in open, voluntary and democratic organisations providing electricity at the stable price close-price • Finally, REScoops offer a fair return on investment, and at the same time they offer local services and involve, enlighten and activate citizens in local actions for a just energy transition in their regions. • REScoops’ (part) ownership of installations reduces the energy dependency of regions due to geopolitics. O4DCP will address regulatory, technical, and financial barriers and develop solutions for offshore wind energy ownership and supply by citizens and SME’s. These solutions will be tested in simulation games and be translated into guidelines ,models and action plans for REScoops. Through a process of awareness raising and capacity building, the potential of REScoops to be involved in offshore wind ownership and actual supply to their member will be created.

Status : ongoing

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Enhancing Transregional “Green” Female Entrepreneurship

Coupling female entrepreneurship and green(ing) economy, EVERGREEN supports regions across NWE in shaping the necessary socio-ecological transformation to meet the Paris Agreement by unfolding the untapped economic potential of green female entrepreneurship (green FE). As current figures show, there is enormous potential here. GEM (2020/21) reports women in the EU have the lowest entrepreneurship rates (5.7%) compared with a world average (11%). Only 14.8% of start-up founders in the EU are female (OECD, 2021). The reasons for these low numbers are manifold, ranging from access to finance and skills to underdeveloped networks and institutional barriers. At the same time, bold climate actions could create more than 65 million new jobs worldwide (IRENA, 2018). The EU Flash Eurobarometer 2022 shows slowly rising numbers of SMEs offering green products and services (gPS). What makes women core agents of change is that they are more likely to green their businesses and are proactive in pursuing green network opportunities where they win clients and get access to alternative resources. Green FE would benefit society, as more diversity leads to more innovation and better inclusion. Women’s participation in the greening economy ensures that they benefit from green growth, have the opportunity to help shape it, and function as role models for future generations. EVERGREEN will approach the expected change to raise the number of green FE through transnational cooperation by (1) a Joint Action Plan (JAP) for stakeholders, e.g. municipalities, hubs etc., (2) resulting in (trans-)regional pilot actions adaptable to the regional context and (3) the building and establishing of an inclusive transnational digital ecosystem (DECO). In so doing, the project’s overall objective is to facilitate the exploitation of green female entrepreneurship across NWE to drive regional economic development toward green and inclusive growth.

Status : ongoing

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Smart Green Regions for a holistic preservation of natural capital and biodiversity

In peri-urban areas across NWE (40% of territory), our natural environments are under increasing stress (77% of species under threat). They keep getting transformed (suburban housing, intensive farming, logistics hubs, etc) without proper consideration of biodiversity and nature, missing the opportunity to future-proof these areas now (EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030). Nature-Based Solutions (NBS e.g. green corridors) can benefit biodiversity and support the delivery of a range of ecosystem services (EU,2021). But, how do NBS perform? What is the cost-benefit, who pays and who benefits? This is especially pertinent for peri-urban areas, where NBS are often overlooked by public funding, governance is fragmented and where many different users coexist. Smart technologies can monitor and help decision-making for NBS implementation. E.g. Earth observation & geospatial data to select optimal sites, IoT to monitor species, drones to track vegetation quality, VR to raise awareness on NBS. However, these solutions lack an EU-wide strategy, are not yet being deployed transnationally and there is limited awareness amongst regional stakeholders, citizens and policy makers. Smart Green Regions enhances nature and biodiversity across multiple NWE peri-urban typologies (residential, farming, recreational, industrial) by implementing NBS and piloting Smart-NBS transnationally. Smart-NBS measure, monitor and evaluate NBS through smart innovations. This generates evidence to further implement NBS, spread biodiversity awareness & explore business cases to increase investments in nature preservation. S-NBS pilots (BE, NL, IR, FR, DE) are embedded in regional investment programmes (eg. Wallonia Development Programme; Gelderland Green-Blue Regional Framework). The smart innovations are sourced transnationally from renowned NWE institutes (Multitel, UoG, TU-Delft, Unistra), and feed into national policy programmes for widespread implementation (e.g. French Biodiversity Strategy 2021).

Status : ongoing

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Scaling Up the Energy Poverty Approach

Energy poverty has been deemed a major challenge by the European Commission and “lifting vulnerable citizens out of it is an urgent task for the EU”. EU-surveys in 2021 found that energy poverty applied to up to 125 million citizens already. Due to recent geo-political events energy prices are record high, and energy poverty is rapidly increasing and intensifying. Proven measures to alleviate energy poverty are available but are only applicable in local conditions and unable to reach all off the growing target groups. Especially hard-to-reach vulnerable households require tailor-made approaches. Energy poverty is often just one of the multi-social problems households are dealing with and should therefore be addressed integral. SCEPA (Scaling up the Energy Poverty Approach) aims to contribute to a just and inclusive energy transition by better engaging more vulnerable households, reducing and alleviating energy poverty. Within the NWE partner areas currently over 3.5 mil. households are found to suffer from energy poverty. Instead of reinventing the wheel, SCEPA gathers and enhances existing effective energy poverty approaches in order to be able to upscale initiatives. Stakeholders in the project learn from each other and share their best practices to develop a Joint Action Strategy (JAS). The JAS provides nuanced details of what works for specific target groups in specific residential areas in NWE. The JAS is used for the development of Local Action Plans for the partner regions and cities. During the implementation of pilot activities (WP2 A4-A6), 3 types of pilots with 12 types of interventions are enhanced, tested and scaled up, reaching over 105.000 households. Via monitoring and evaluation, the JAS is updated and shared with SCEPA’s community of interest for replication. This way vulnerable households in the partner areas, public authorities and organisations beyond the SCEPA consortium looking to scale up their energy poverty approach will benefit.

Status : ongoing

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REuse of concrete structures for circular BUILDings

The demand for housing area per capita doubled in the last 40 years in the NWE area. The construction industry is the most resource-intensive sector in NWE, with a waste volume of 0.8 Gt and a demand for primary resources of 2.6 Gt in the EU each year. The supply of some virgin materials is struggling to meet demand (e.g. sand) while other materials contribute significantly to global warming (e.g. cement and steel). NWE area is highly affected by climate change, as recent flooding events at the Ahrtal (DE), Dublin (IE) and Wallonia (BE) prove. The demand for housing units in densely populated areas (in parts of NL and IE) results in the need for modular housing, flood water retaining areas and coastal defence, mostly built from concrete. Despite the rising demand, the climate and environmental impact of concrete construction needs to be reduced. If whole concrete building components in large sections were to be extracted and then reused, this would reduce the CO2 emissions and the amount of primary resources used. Whole components available from now-obsolete military (DE), industrial (Fourmies, Seraing, Pirmasens) and office buildings (Rotterdam, Dublin) could be harvested and reused elsewhere. Jointly developed product blueprints for modular housing and flood protection (L-wall, flood barrier), solutions and training schemes will enable SMEs to extract concrete building components in large sections in a non-destructive way facilitating the demand for flexible housing and flood protection in the NWE coastal areas. As circular reuse of components is best practice in the Netherlands, these approaches will be adopted in product blueprints and circular business strategies. Urban-rural cooperation of regions with vacant buildings and areas with demand for housing and flood protection allow short supply chains and therefore maximise the impact. ReBuild will establish a new place-based circular economy, taken up by 15 organisations, establishing regional ReBuild clusters.

Status : ongoing

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MOdal shift, routing and nudging solutions in NAture areas for sustainable tourism

Nature areas in North-West Europe (NWE) face an increasing number of visitors (intensified by COVID-19) resulting in an increased pressure on nature, negative environmental impacts, higher management costs, and nuisance for local residents and visitors. The high share of car use exaggerates these impacts, including peak pressures. Furthermore, the almost exclusive access by car excludes disadvantaged people, specifically those without access to a car. At the same time, the urbanised character of NWE, its dense public transport network, well-developed tourism & recreation sector, and presence of shared mobility providers offers ample opportunities for more sustainable tourism. Thus, MONA will stimulate sustainable tourism in and around nature areas in NWE which benefits nature, the environment, visitors, and the local economy. MONA will do so by encouraging a modal shift through facilitating sustainable transport modes, providing inclusive routing to and within nature areas, and nudging visitors and stakeholders towards more sustainable behaviour. These are the key solutions to manage visitor flows, reduce negative impacts, and stimulate inclusive access. 8 nature areas and 3 knowledge & dissemination partners work together to: >Assess the impact of visitors & mobility on nature areas and develop strategies to reduce this impact >Jointly pilot solutions on the modal shift, routing and nudging >Provide capacity building for stakeholders across NWE Nature areas, destination marketing organisations, tourism & mobility service providers, local and regional authorities and (potential) visitors of nature areas all benefit from the strategies and solutions for, and revenues of, sustainable tourism. MONA develops and promotes a mindset around sustainable tourism which is balanced, inclusive, and socially and environmentally sustainable. This is made possible by the projects’ multidisciplinary approach, for which the transnational partnership and expertise is essential.

Status : ongoing

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Solutions at soil, plant & irrigation level to cope with water extremes on farms

Climate change tends to aggravate the risk of natural disasters and water management challenges, exposing the North-West Europe (NWE) region to greater local climate variability, negatively affecting human health and safety. As a result of climate change, precipitation patterns are changing across Europe. From spring onwards, we increasingly experience long periods of drought, causing the soil to increasingly dry out and lose its water infiltration and holding capacity. Due to climate change, rainfall is less frequent but more intense, resulting in insufficient water infiltration into the dry soil and water runoff which can cause floods and erosion. Precipitation seems to shift more to the winter months, resulting in (over)replenishment of water reserves in the soil, regionally causing waterlogging. These water extremes aren’t evenly distributed in North-Western Europe, but can become due to climate change. The goal of WaterXtremes is to help farmers and growers in horti- and agriculture to find practical and affordable solutions at soil, plant and water management-level to cope with these water extremes and to improve the resilience of their farms against drought, cluster rains, waterlogging,... . These solutions will be listed in a decision support scheme, as a handy tool for farmers to choose the right solutions for their company on the basis of applicability, affordability,... . Soil solutions focus on improvement of the water holding and infiltration capacity of the soil by increasing the organic matter content. At plant-level, solutions e.g. biostimulants that increase the tolerance of crops against abiotic stress e.g. drought, flooding,... and the potential of new tolerant cultivars will be examined. A rational irrigation management to reduce the water gift and increase the efficiency of irrigation will become more important in future, looking at the potential of various sensors and predictive models to control irrigation according to plant needs.

Status : ongoing

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Creating Resilient River Systems by Mainstreaming and Upscaling NbS

In North West Europe (NWE), river systems are suffering considerably due to climate change causing massive floods and droughts that significantly affects economic sectors such as shipping and agriculture, recreation opportunities and biodiversity. Nature based Solutions (NbS) have proven to be a sustainable means of fending off those threats and making river systems more climate resilient. They contribute to the EU ambition of creating a Blue Economy and generate climate resilience while providing benefits for human well-being and biodiversity. Nevertheless, implementation (mainstreaming) and wide-scale application (upscaling) of NbS in riverine systems has not yet become a common practice. Though EU and national policies are generally supportive to NbS, decision makers (e.g., politicians, or policy makers) are not always aware of these solutions as a viable option. External (stakeholder) support is occasionally insufficient when project organisations are willing to implement solutions. This project addresses these issues and will: • build a solid base of solutions that contribute to mainstreaming through gathering knowledge and experience from full scale NbS pilots in the Rhine, Meuse, Weser, Lys, Dromore and Wantij rivers and from previous experiences in the Rhone and Vesdre in the NWE. • transfer knowledge and experience through easily accessible general and locally tailored training packages and (live) demonstrations for both partners and external parties. • synthesize knowledge and experiences into easily implementable action plans, guidelines and policies. The project is building on a strong partnership that covers river systems Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands.

Status : ongoing

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Projects

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