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<< Back to: Member News: ICLEI e-News | issue 18, February 2009

Green Capital Cities of Europe

February 23, 2009

Freiburg, February 23, 2009 - Stockholm and Hamburg have been crowned the first Green Capital Cities of Europe as part of an award by the European Commission.  Stockholm will hold the title for 2010 and will then pass it on to Hamburg for 2011. European Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas made the announcement at the first European Green Capital Awards Ceremony on 23 February in Brussels.

Eight cities were shortlisted: Amsterdam, Bristol, Copenhagen, Freiburg im Breisgau, Hamburg, Münster, Oslo and Stockholm. These cities have all a long standing, international recognised, environmental track record, also within ICLEI's global membership.

The evaluation panel was made up of a group of internationally recognized experts in the environmental field, while the jury, which finally selected the winners, included  representatives the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E), the Union of Capitals of the European Union and the Committee of the Regions.

Regional Director of the ICLEI European Secretariat, Gino Van Begin, joins European Commissioner Dimas in congratulating the winners and the shortlisted cities. “All eight finalist cities presented high quality applications. Choosing the winners from among them was hard because all the cities are environmental front runners. I express my congratulations to each of them.”

Mr. Van Begin went on to say that, “he was particularly impressed with the way both Hamburg and Stockholm set several ambitious targets in a range of sustainable development areas, in particular to combat climate change in a comprehensive and innovative ‘local’ way.

Stockholm impressed the evaluation panel with its holistic vision, which combines growth with sustainable development. Its plans for the future include becoming fossil free by 2050 and the city has put strong green programmes and measures in place across the board. The city has a long tradition of fighting climate change. In 2006, in collaboration with ICLEI, it hosted the conference “A Future with Zero CO2 Emissions”, calling for all committed communities to join forces and commit themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a local level. The Swedish capital has also introduced a pioneering Congestion Charging system resulting in reduced car use and reduced emissions.

The city of Hamburg was commended for its many comprehensive approaches, policy commitment and for having a strong green vision. The city has set ambitious climate protection goals and has put the infrastructure in place to carry them out. It also contributes to its inhabitant’s quality of life by having an excellent transport system with almost 100 percent of citizens within 300 meters of high class public transport.

The evaluation panel praised all of the short listed cities saying that, “all eight cities have the potential to become a European Green Capital and an excellent role model for cities all over the world”. Judges also said that the finalists have shown excellence in all fields, particularly when putting environmental management systems in place.

Amsterdam was praised for its very strong targets, plans, budget to contribute to climate change, as well as its well thought out dissemination programme and transport system.

Bristol leads the way in environmental awareness in the UK, and scored well with its dissemination programme which evaluators described as excellent, along with very ambitious measures and plans for the future.

Copenhagen also impressed with its transport system and its development of local mobility and passenger transport and has ambitious targets to have 50 percent of commuters use bicycles by 2015.

Freiburg also has high accessibility of green and blue space and a clean air plan that has been implemented with a number of effective measures.

Münster scored marks with a strong performance on climate change implementations, organising budgets and reaching targets.

Oslo has good accessibility to public transport and an expanding cycle network with very high quality and high accessibility of green and blue space.

The European Green Capital Award, a European Commission initiative, was conceived to promote and reward these efforts, to spur cities to commit to further action, and to showcase and encourage exchange of best practice among European cities. Applications for the 2012 award will open in September 2009.


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Ciara Leonard