Boasting strong sustainability credentials, Dijon and Grenoble in France, along with the Estonian capital, Tallinn, and Italian city, Turin, are the final four competing for the title: European Green Capital 2022. The Green Leaf Awards recognises smaller cities and making the shortlist are: Elsinore (Denmark), Gabrovo (Bulgaria), Lappeenranta (Finland), Nyborg (Denmark) and Ringkøbing-Skjern (Denmark). Both awards are supported by the European Commission.
Two-thirds of the continent live in urban areas and so the efforts made by these cities – and their peers – across Europe will play a pivotal role in accelerating the transition to more sustainable environments. The pace that this is delivered is also key to achieving the goal set out by Ursula von der Leyen last year, when she was elected as the first female President of the European Commission. In her inaugural speech she said: Europe can be the first climate-neutral continent. That means building resilience into urban centres and mainstreaming lifestyle choices that can help realise this ambition.
“In a context of climate emergency, Europe needs inspiring stories and good examples to follow. This year’s finalists are providing that – they are quieter, healthier and greener cities, all proving that local solutions already exist for the vast majority of the urban problems we face. They are ambassadors for change, showing that we can build a better environment, creating resilient cities for a more secure future,” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.
The nine will now go forward and pitch to an international jury, outlining their commitment to delivering a sustainable future, explaining how they can inspire others and setting out the ways they will work with citizens to engage them in the journey. This element, along with the presentation of awards, is likely to take place later this year in Lisbon, which is the current European Green Capital (2020). The city that follows Lisbon will walk away with €350k, while up to two European Green Leaf 2021 title winners will receive €75k to advance their plans.
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