Saturday, June 3, 2017

Oslo is Europe's Green Capital 2019 - finally

Photo Credit: Grensen, Oslo, Norway
After Stockholm and Copenhagen, another Scandinavian city has won the title European Green Capital, honoring green urban achievements. It is the third time Norway's capital Oslo was shortlisted. Raymond Johansen, the mayor of Oslo, broke into a broad smile when the decision was announced. This year is the third year that Norway's capital had applied for the title - and it is also the third time that the city was shortlisted. A city has to go through the entire labor-intensive application process each time it applies - so Oslo authorities were happy the work has finally paid off. "I am proud to tell you that we have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world," Johansen says. The European Green City Award is an initiative of the European Commission. Since 2010, one city in Europe is awarded the title each year. Winners are announced 18 months in advance. For 2019, the jury announced its decision on Friday in a theater in Essen, Germany - which is the European Green Capital for 2017.
'Long-term vision'
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