The call for applications for the 2016 European Green Leaf (EGL) and for the 2018 European Green Capital (EGC) Award, initiatives by the European Commission, will run until October 19. EGL is open to all towns and cities across Europe with 20,000 – 100,000 inhabitants, while EGC is for cities with a population of more than 100,000 people.
EGL is a new competition that recognizes commitment to better environmental outcomes, with a particular accent on efforts that generate green growth and new jobs. The objectives are to recognise cities that demonstrate a good environmental record and commitment to generating green growth, to encourage cities to actively develop citizens’ environmental awareness and involvement, and to identify cities able to act as a ‘green ambassador’ and to encourage other cities to progress towards a better sustainability outcomes. EGL will be presented on an annual basis by the European Commission in conjunction with the EGC Award as a stamp of approval to towns and cities, growing greener! Eight cities from seven countries across Europe applied for the pilot 2015 European Green Leaf competition.
To underpin the work of creating an ever-better environment for European citizens, the European Union adopted the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) entitled ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. It provides the basis for EU environment policy up to 2020. This programme aims to enhance Europe’s ecological resilience and transform the EU into an inclusive and sustainable green economy. The programme includes a specific policy objective, to enhance the sustainability of EU cities. It foresees that the EU will promote and expand existing initiatives that support innovation and best practices in cities, enabling better networking and exchanges between cities and encouraging the leading ones to show how they lead on sustainable urban development.
EGC, launched in 2008, is one such initiative. Following its success, many smaller cities seek EU recognition of their effort and commitment in the areas of sustainability and environment. In response, the European Commission has launched the new pilot EGL initiative. It will run as a pilot project for 2015 using one language (English) and if successful as expected, will be further developed in due course to include other languages.
EGC Award is the result of an initiative taken by 15 European cities (Tallinn, Helsinki, Riga, Vilnius, Berlin, Warsaw, Madrid, Ljubljana, Prague, Vienna, Kiel, Kotka, Dartford, Tartu & Glasgow) and the Association of Estonian cities on 15 May 2006 in Tallinn, Estonia. Their green vision was translated into a joint memorandum of understanding establishing an award to recognise cities that are leading the way with environmentally friendly urban living. The initiative was launched by the European Commission in 2008.
It is important to reward cities which are making efforts to improve the urban environment and move towards healthier and sustainable living areas. Progress is its own reward, but the satisfaction involved in winning a prestigious European award spurs cities to invest in further efforts and boosts awareness within the city as well as in other cities. The award enables cities to inspire each other and share examples of good practices in situ.
The winning cities to date are Stockholm (2010), Hamburg (2011), Vitoria-Gastiez (2012), Nantes (2013) and Copenhagen (2014). Bristol will hold the title in 2015, Ljubljana in 2016 and Essen in 2017.