With Tuesday’s official handover ceremony, Ljubljana took from Bristol the title of European Green Capital for 2016. The title is awarded by the European Commission since 2010 to cities that are committed to sustainable development and that are improving the urban environment. Ljubljana will therefore join six other cities that during their “mandate” improved environmental standards and contributed to the promotion and the sharing of good environmental practices.
WHY EUROPEAN GREEN CAPITAL?
The European Green Capital Award was launched by the European Commission in 2008. The Award is open to any city with more than 100.000 inhabitants from the EU, EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) and EU candidate countries, who achieved high environmental standards, are committed to ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development and represent a role model for other cities with promoting and sharing best practices.
The candidates are assessed in 12 different areas/indicators – mitigation and adaptation to climate change, local transport, sustainable use of green urban areas, natura and biodiversity, air quality, acoustic pollution, waste production and management, water management, waste water treatment, eco innovation and sustainable employment, energy performance and integrated environmental management. These indicators are assessed by a panel of international experts, who prepares the shortlist of finalists, who have to prepare action plans. Based on this action plans the jury choses the winner.
The first green capital, Stockholm, convinced the jury with its holistic vision of development, that combines growth with sustainable urban development. Hamburg was chosen because of its record in reducing carbon emissions, similarly as Copenhagen, who aims to become carbon-neutral by 2025. Spanish Vittoria-Gasteiz convinced the jury with its Green Belt project, a green area partially reclaimed from degraded areas surrounding the city centre. Sustainable transport policy and energy policy were the main assets for Nantes and Bristol. The latter especially prepared an investment plan worth 300 million euros for the energetic renovation to be realised by 2020.
Ljubljana impressed the jury with its improvement and transformation in sustainability over the past 15 years. The jury (here you can find the Expert Panel – Technical Assessment Synopsis Report and the Jury Report) especially welcomed the improvements in the public transport and the closing of the city centre for cars, including the latest closing of the main street in the city centre.
Besides the progress in the field of sustainable mobility the jury highlighted also the increase of green areas, the revitalisation and transformation of ex industrial areas and the progress in the field of waste nad waste water treatment. Finally, the jury also recognized the role of Ljubljana as a role model for sharing its experiences and solutions in the management of natural disasters.
WHAT CAN LJUBLJANA EXPECT FROM THE TITLE?
Even if the title doesn’t bring any financial prize, the experiences of the previous title holders show several benefits a city can obtain. Among others, the previous green capitals report increase in tourism, more international media coverage, improved international visibility and networking with other cities, easier access to funding for environmental projects and a momentum to continue with the improvement of environmental sustainability. Finally, all the competition finalists are members of the European Green Capital Network, a network created to share knowledge and experiences in the field of sustainable environmental development.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM LJUBLJANA?
The title holder is morally committed to continue with its commitments to achieve sustainable environmental development and to implement the already prepared projects.
Besides implementing environmental policies, the green capital has to promote sustainable development topics among its citizens. Ljubljana’s green year will be divided in thematic months during which several events will be organised. February is dedicated to local supplies and March will be dedicated to responsible water use. The complete list of events is available on the official website Ljubljana – European Green Capital 2016, where you will find also information regarding Ljubljana’s achievements and several advises on how to live sustainable.