By the way… What is a European Green Capital ?
Everybody knows or has heard something around the title “Capital of Culture” which is attributed every year to one European town based on its cultural programme. It’s quite famous and trendy and it was launched nearly 30 years ago !
But very few people know about the concept of European Green Capital. In this world of hyper communication and sustainability “overcommunication”, how many of you have heard of it? Well, ok, the concept is very new: it was born in 2006 and the first Green Capital award was attributed in 2010 to Stockholm. (2010 : Stockholm, 2011 : Hambourg, 2012 : Vitoria-Gasteiz)
With the building sector accounting for 40% of the global CO2 emissions and with four out of five Europeans living in towns or cities by 2050, I think this action of “Green Capital” needs some highlighting and so this is why I’ve decided to share a few thoughts on it.
Developing a green city and the sustainable community that goes inside, involves completely rethinking the rhythm of urban life, travel habits, resource management and urban planning in order to reduce the carbon footprint, as well as create urban environments where inhabitants can live and breathe better. As such, the “European Green Capital” title rewards an overall environmental approach based on new technologies, collective governance and citizen involvement.
The Green Capital award encourages cities in the European Union to develop environmental policies and improve the quality of urban life. Working towards ambitious environmental targets, the winners act as role models and share their best practices with other cities.
The concept of the award is based on a simple question : in what sort of city will we live in the future? To deal with the issues of climate change, cities must come up with imaginative ideas in order to adapt their practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while providing a high-quality living environment.
With four out of five Europeans living in towns or cities by 2050, the challenge is to reconcile urban development and the protection of natural resources. Local authorities are faced with complex environmental and social challenges, such as transport and mobility, waste and water management, the protection of eco-systems, housing and air quality to name a few.
The “European Green Capital” award is open to all European cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants, or to the largest city in countries with small populations. All the candidate towns are assessed by an independent group of experts, who establish the final rankings according to twelve technical criteria:
1/ Local transport, 2/ Green urban areas and sustainable land use, 3/ Nature and biodiversity, 4/Local air quality, 5/ Quality of the acoustic environment, 6/ Waste Production and management, 7/ Water consumption, 8/ Waste water treatment, 9/Eco-innovation and sustainable employment, 10/ Environmental management of the local authority, 11/ Energy performance, 12/ Climate change
Long-term impact and commitment are also considered. The expert panel rewards the city with the best overall performance. The “European Green Capital” acts as a catalyst for change and must develop a programme and communication tools to raise awareness among European citizens and cities.
Nantes – Station Gourmande
For the 2013 award, Nantes’ application stood out among the short-list of finalists: Barcelona (Spain), Malmö (Sweden), Nuremberg (Germany) and Reykjavik (Iceland). Nantes won over the judges thanks to its innovative and collaborative public policies. In the expert panel’s view, Nantes’ major assets are its transport and mobility policy, its Climate Plan (which aims to halve the city’s CO2 emissions by 2025), its water policy and the management of its natural areas. As part of its second Regional Climate Plan, Nantes has set ambitious targets for 2025 in terms of energy-efficiency, citizen involvement and transport infrastructures.
Nantes has also set up an ambitious programme of conferences and events around sustainability all through the year, you can find the complete agenda on : http://www.nantesgreencapital.fr/en/the-program-2013/agenda
Writing these lines, I just want to applaud this great “Green Capital” initiative, congratulate towns playing the game and spread the word as much as I can. Well done to Nantes and looking forward to celebrating Copenhagen as 2014 European Green Capital.