The European Green Capital 2023 Award goes to the Estonian city of Tallinn. The title of European Green Leaf 2022 jointly went to the Portuguese city of Valongo and Winterswijk in the Netherlands.
Tallinn will be granted a financial prize of 600,000 EUR. The prize will contribute to support the winning city in implementing the initiatives and measures to enhance the city’s environmental sustainability as part of the winning city's European Green Capital year 2023. European Green Leaf 2022 winners Valongo and Winterswijk will each receive a financial prize of 200,000 EUR.
During the ceremony Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius highlighted the crucial role of cities in championing the green transition objectives of the European Green Deal. Commissioner Sinkevičius said:
"The cities of Tallinn, Valongo and Winterswijk have demonstrated commitment and concrete actions to create healthier, better and greener places for their citizens. Despite another year under Covid-19 constraints, the ambitions for a green transition remain high. The winners this year have convinced us of their ability to go the extra mile for sustainability and lead the way in creating cities that are fit for life."
Tallinn impressed the international jury with their systemic approach to green governance and interlinked strategic goals, which reflect the ambitions of the European Green Deal. As one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tallinn is characterized by a diverse and mosaic nature of its landscapes and communities, which also serve as habitats for rare species.
Tallinn will lead the newly launched network of 19 European cities, which aims to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the local level, focusing among other things on poverty eradication, gender equality, clean water, climate change, sustainable cities and energy sustainability, economic growth and employment.
The Portuguese city of Valongo has convinced the jury that it is tackling environmental issues. It prioritizes the engagement of citizens and shows strong political commitment. The city focuses on natural areas, as nearly 60% of their municipality is covered by forest. As most of these areas are privately owned, this makes it even more challenging to implement public policy. The jury also appreciated the various ways the city offers support to low-income citizens in the transition to sustainability as well as Valongo’s close collaboration with neighbouring cities to preserve the surrounding nature.
The jury was impressed to see the Dutch city of Winterswijk being presented by its inhabitants, who are at the core of the city’s sustainability strategy. Their presentation convinced the jury that Winterswijk is genuinely committed to making green transition happen on the ground. This small city in the Netherlands, with 30,000 inhabitants, punched above its weight presenting advanced initiatives to drive the ecological transition. Among them, the energy tables which bring together local stakeholders to help steer the local energy transition or a revolving fund for citizens to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. The city is a novice in European projects but does not hesitate to become a champion of green solutions that can inspire others.
A total of 30 cities competed for these awards. An international expert panel evaluated each application and shortlisted ten finalist cities. The finalists were interviewed by an international jury comprising representatives from the European Commission, Committee of the Regions, Covenant of Mayors Office, European Environment Agency, European Environment Bureau, Eurocities and ICLEI.
The European Green Capital Award was launched by the European Commission to encourage cities to become greener and cleaner, and thereby to improve the quality of life for their citizens. With 75% of the European Union’s population living in cities and with the urban population expected to rise even further, cities play the leading role in the social, environmental and economic transformation initiated by the European Green Deal, leading by example and inspiring and motivating others to join in.
The European Green Capital Award (EGCA) is presented to a city with more than 100,000 inhabitants who is willing to engage in real change. The European Green Leaf Award (EGLA) was established to recognise the environmental efforts and achievements of smaller towns and cities (20,000 – 100,000 inhabitants).
Each year, a panel of independent urban sustainability experts assesses the performance of the competing cities against 12 environmental indicators and selects finalists.
To date, 13 cities have been awarded the title of European Green Capital: Stockholm, Sweden, won the inaugural title, followed by Hamburg, Germany (2011); Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2012); Nantes, France (2013); Copenhagen, Denmark (2014); Bristol, UK (2015); Ljubljana, Slovenia (2016); Essen, Germany (2017); Nijmegen, The Netherlands (2018); Oslo, Norway (2019); Lisbon, Portugal (2020) and Lahti, Finland (2021). Grenoble won the title for 2022.
Alongside, 11 cities have been awarded the title of European Green Leaf: Mollet del Vallès, Spain (2015); Torres Vedras, Portugal (2015); Galway, Ireland (2017); Leuven, Belgium (2018); Växjö, Sweden (2018); Cornellà de Llobregat, Spain (2019); Horst aan de Maas, the Netherlands (2019); Limerick, Ireland (2020); Mechelen, Belgium (2020). Grabovo, Bulgaria and Lappeenranta, Finland share the title for 2021.
With each competition cycle, winners and finalists join forces and expand the European Green Capital and Green Leaf Networks. Chaired by the European Commission and in close collaboration with the laureates of the running year, these ever growing networks of European cities share knowledge and expertise and inspire other cities to follow in their footsteps.
For more information
LinkedIn: European Green Capital Award
EU Policy on Urban Environment: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/urban/index_en.htm
Press release first published on 10 September 2021 here.