Green Capital of Europe

Dorota Kafara

According to forecasts, in 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities. Therefore, they will be the most affected by climate change. Therefore, cities are increasingly aware of this process and they in particular should take measures to slow it down. To meet these trends, the European Commission created a special distinction in 2010 called the “European Green Capital”. Undoubtedly, this initiative is part of the ambitious plan of the European Commission assuming Europe’s climate neutrality until 2050 and taking action that will enable Europeans to benefit from sustainable green transformation.

Over the past 10 years, the title “Green Capital of Europe” awarded for environmental protection activities and initiatives to raise ecological standards has been worn by: Stockholm (2010), Vitoria-Gasteiz (2012), Hamburg (2013), Copenhagen (2014), Bristol ( 2015), Ljubljana (2016), Essen (2017), Nijmegen (2018) and Oslo (2019).

The qualifying rounds for the prize take place in several stages. For two years, the EC collects the candidatures of cities, in the spring of the following year a list of strict finalists is announced, while in the summer the results are published. In 2018, Wrocław, Lisbon, Lahti, Tallinn, Budapest, Reykjavik, Sevilla, Ostrava and less well-known: Aberdeen (United Kingdom), Ghent (Belgium), Prato (Italy), Guimares (Italy) have competed for the title of ‘Green Capital of Europe’ 2020 Portugal). The winner is the capital of Portugal.

As a large number of cities are always applying for this title, just being one of the candidates for the title of “Green Capital of Europe” is a distinction and a signal that actions to improve the quality of life of residents are going in the right direction. Just obtaining the title of “European Capital of Europe”, in addition to prestige, is also a financial injection for the city. The winner of 2020 has cashed EUR 350,000  to support “green” initiatives in the city.

The realization of European aspirations to become the first climate neutral continent is a task not only for EU governments and institutions. The involvement of local governments, the implementation of “green” solutions, and above all work to build social awareness is equally important. Participants of the 6th European Congress of Local Governments in Karpacz (2-3 April 2020) will talk about the efforts of local governments in the pursuit of climate neutrality at the local level. The guests of the “Green order in Europe – from global to regional perspective” debate will include Ada Amon, chief climate advisor to the president of Budapest and Jacek Sutryk, president of Wroclaw – a city that has done a lot in the recent years for the environment and climate. Wroclaw has applied for the title of “Green Capital of Europe” several times. In recent years, the city has taken a number of actions in the field of environmental protection and initiatives to raise ecological standards. To increase the share of green areas (and their quality) within the city, among others, city ​​gardener position.

The decision process of choosing the capital for 2022 is already ongoing, and among the candidates is Krakow – a city that prides itself on being the first to introduce the Clean Transport Zone (SCT) in this part of Europe, and over 73% of public transport vehicles meet the standards Euro 6 or zero emissions.