EU Overseas

From the poles to the tropics, the European overseas include 34 entities: 9 Outermost Regions (ORs) and 25 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). They are linked to the United Kingdom and 5 European Member States: Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Found in every ocean and diverse biogeographical regions they are home to a unique diversity of species and ecosystems of global significance, which are highly vulnerable to human impacts and increasingly the impacts of climate change.

For more information on the ORs and the EU, see IUCN’s website and the fact sheet on the European Union.

BEST Initiative

The need of a EU dedicated mechanism for the Overseas was underlined in the Message from the 1st EU Overseas Biodiversity and Climate Change Conference held in La Reunion in July 2008 (Message from Reunion Island). As a result, the European Commission and the European Parliament then launched the development of the “BEST Initiative” on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the European Overseas. Several calls for projects were organised and a BEST III consortium led by IUCN developed useful regional ecosystem profiles mobilising several networks of expertise and stakeholders in all EU Overseas. The need for a dedicated European financial mechanism for supporting projects in EU Overseas was reiterated at the 2nd EU Overseas Biodiversity and Climate Change Conference (La Guadeloupe Island, 2014) as its Message called for a dedicated mechanism to better support actions and ease access to the available European funds for the Overseas Regions, Countries and Territories.

From 2011 to 2018, BEST has financed 90 projects worth a total of EUR 18 million.

More information on the overall BEST Initiative can be found on the European Commission (DG Environment) and IUCN website.

In 2019, LIFE4BEST and BEST 2.0+ programmes took over following the end of BEST RUP and BEST 2.0, respectively covering the ORs and the OCTs. Both programmes support field actions, which aim to enable, empower and strengthen local actors committed to local development, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of ecosystem services, through the implementation of grant schemes accompanied by capacity building activities.

Laparocerus sp. © Miguel Angel


Funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union (DG ENV), the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) and the French Development Agency (AFD), LIFE4BEST continues the EU BEST Initiative and is a direct follow up of the BEST RUP Programme. The objective of LIFE4BEST is to promote the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services, including ecosystem based approach to climate change adaption and mitigation, in the Overseas Regions grouped into 4 zones:

  • Amazonia: French Guiana (France)
  • Caribbean: Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint-Martin (France)
  • Indian Ocean: Réunion and Mayotte (France)
  • Macaronesia: the Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and the Canary Islands (Spain)

LIFE4BEST aims to fulfil its objective by enabling, empowering and strengthening local actors which are committed to local development, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of ecosystem services in ORs through the implementation of a grant scheme accompanied by capacity building activities. The grant scheme takes the form of one call for proposals, which is designed to provide effective support for small actions on the ground at the local, as well the regional level for the period 2019-2021. It makes sure that the scheme reflects the actual local needs and demand, and provide more support to local stakeholders for unlocking their potential.

Finally, LIFE4BEST aims to increase the visibility of the ORs as demonstrators of ecosystem-based approaches and key contributors to the achievement of EU and international biodiversity targets.