|Photo Credit: Grensen, Oslo, Norway|
All European cities with a population of more than 100,000 are eligible to apply for the European Green Capital award. The award honors high environmental standards, sustainable urban development and green job creation. Indicators for being a green city include local transport, biodiversity, air quality, waste management and noise. Oslo, with its 660,000 inhabitants, is green not only due to its low carbon footprint of 1.9 tons per capita per year, Katja Rosenbohm tells DW. As head of communication at the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, Rosenbohm was part of the jury that awarded Oslo its new title. "They have very ambitious targets, for example of having a car-free city by 2050." Rosenbohm also praises Oslo's "front-running activities in electro-mobility." "They say it is about giving the city back to the citizens and taking the space away for cars."
Political will and public engagement
Northern countries tend to do well in general when it comes to protecting the environment, she adds. But that richer countries like Norway might have it easier when it comes to investing in new technologies is not the only thing that counts. "It is not about money. It is about political will and public engagement." Rosenbohm points out that also Lisbon, a city from Europe's south, has been shortlisted this year and "was very impressive for us." Three other cities were shortlisted for the award this year, and presented their concept to the jury in Essen: Ghent (Belgium), Lahti (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia). In total, 14 cities across Europe had applied. For 2018, Nijmegen in the Netherlands took the title, while Ljubljana in Slovenia won for 2016. Since 2015, the European Commission also honors cities of 20,000 to 100,000 people with the European Green Leaf Award. This year, Leuven in Belgium and Växjö in Finland both won the title for 2018. Last winner of the European Green Leaf Award was Galway, Ireland. DW-Deutsche Welle