The search has begun to find the cities that will become the next European Green Capitals. The prestigious European Green Capital Award recognises cities that are at the forefront of environmentally friendly urban living.
Earlier this year, Stockholm and Hamburg were named as the first winners of the title for 2010 and 2011, respectively. Now the race is on to find the cities that will claim the coveted title for 2012 and 2013. The annual award is intended to help European cities become more attractive and healthy places - "fit for life".
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Local authorities have a crucial role to play in improving living conditions for city-dwellers. The European Green Capital Award is inspiring cities to solve environmental problems and improve the quality of life for citizens by taking the environment systematically into account in urban planning."
All EU cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants can now apply for the titles of European Green Capital 2012 and 2013. The award scheme is open to the 27 EU Member States, candidate countries (Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Croatia) and European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein).
Entries will be assessed on the basis of 11 environmental criteria, including local contribution to fighting global climate change, waste production and management, nature and biodiversity, transport, air and water.
Cities can apply via an online application form. The deadline for applications for both the 2012 and 2013 titles is 1 February 2010. The winners will be announced in October 2010.
The jury is composed of representatives from the European Commission, the European Environment Agency and key European and international environmental organisations.
Four out of five Europeans now live in urban areas and their quality of life is directly influenced by the state of the urban environment. The European Green Capital Award was conceived as an initiative to promote and reward efforts, to spur cities to commit to further action, and to showcase and encourage exchange of best practice among European cities.
The award is given to a city that has a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards and is permanently committed to ambitious action, further environmental improvement and sustainable development. The aim is for winning cities to inspire other European cities and promote best practices.
Stockholm and Hamburg beat off strong competition to be named as the first winners of the European Green Capital award in February this year . The Swedish capital will be European Green Capital in 2010, followed by Hamburg in 2011. The cities were chosen as role models for the rest of Europe for their measures to improve the urban environment for their citizens, including ambitious action on tackling air pollution, traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.
The European Green Capital Award is the outcome of an initiative taken by cities with a green vision. The concept was originally conceived at a meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, held on 15 May 2006, at the initiative of Mr. Jüri Ratas, a former mayor of Tallinn, where 15 European cities and the Association of Estonian cities signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of such an award. Currently, more than 40 cities, including 21 EU capitals, support it. (EC/2009-10-23)