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Best LIFE Environment Projects 2007-2008

This is the fourth year that we have selected a collection of good practice LIFE Environment 'Best of the Best' projects that are just that little bit better than the rest.
A group of 21 of the most outstanding LIFE Environment projects, completed in 2007, were reviewed by Member States to select the five that represented the very best practice - the Best of the Best.
This year, I had the honour of being joint coordinator for the selection process, sharing the task with Nicole Kerhof, who organised last year's awards. I coordinated the gathering of information on successful LIFE projects from National Authorities in the Member States.
A big thank you to my colleagues from the Member States who made evaluations for the selection. This year we used the same criteria as in previous years, identifying the best projects from an initial list prepared by the LIFE programme's external monitors. This list was prepared following technical evaluations by the monitoring team of all the projects that finished within the reference period. The top 21 projects were then distributed among Member States on a random basis and in a workable language for the national authority. The results are very encouraging: it is interesting to see how the projects and their countries' of origin vary from year to year - an indication of the rigour of the selection process. Although only five projects could be included in the final Best of the Best selection, the margin between the top five and the rest was very close. To announce the top five, Nicole Kerkhof from Senter Novem and the European Commission's LIFE Unit organised a very well attended award presentation on 4 June 2008 in Brussels, during Green Week. In fact, so many people wanted to attend this event that the Commission had to get a bigger room! I would like to thank all of my fellow National Authorities and the LIFE team, for their valuable contributions to this year's event. Special thanks should go to Nicole, for organising the presentations and to Isabel Lico, for evaluating more projects than anyone else. My thanks also to Marta Alvarez Marquina as well as to Isabelle Michiels and Pamela Weir for their help in organising the award ceremony. Having moved to a new job within DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), this year's event marked the end of my involvement with the LIFE programme. Each year I have been amazed by and grateful for the input of busy officials in the Member States for taking the time to read and review the projects I send them. Their contribution is invaluable and a testimony to the importance and value of this exercise. The higher profile that the best projects receive through these awards ensures that more people know about the LIFE programme and the projects it sponsors. I hope that these awards continue into the future and continue to grow in stature and range in the coming years. Next year's organiser will be Herlinde Vanhoutte from Belgium, I wish her well.