‘Ljubljana. For You.’ Ljubljana Publishes Report Reflecting on its Year as European Green Capital 2016
In 2014, Ljubljana was awarded the title of the European Green Capital 2016. Ljubljana was thus tasked with launching an ambitious programme full of activities, initiatives and campaigns in order to engage with its citizens, businesses as well as international tourists to demonstrate how Ljubljana is a Green City – Fit for Life.
As a way of reflecting on what it was like to be a European Green Capital and to share best practices, Ljubljana has recently published a report on its experience. If you are wondering what it takes to become a European Green Capital, this report is a good place to start. It gives insight into the benefits of being a European Green Capital Award winner, the people that it took to make it happen, along with the various projects that helped the city live up to its European Green Capital title.
Challenging and Immensely Fulfilling
The report contains interviews with Ljubljana’s Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Head of Environmental Protection to demonstrate what it took to put together a year-long programme of activities. It is clear that Ljubljana was committed to being a strong example to other European cities from the start, especially as the European Green Capital initiative is very much in line with the city’s sustainability vision. As Deputy Mayor Tjaša Ficko notes, ‘When we became aware of its dimensions and how extremely closely it matched our sustainability Vision of Ljubljana 2025, which we created in 2007, we wanted to win this more than anything else.’ Once they did indeed win, Deputy Mayor Ficko added, ‘We wanted to become the best European Capital.’
Although at times the task at hand seemed very challenging, the team agrees that it was a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. What kept them going was their commitment to making their citizens’ lives better. Nataša Jazbinšek Seršen, Head of the city’s Department for Environmental Protection explains, ‘Our citizens are the ones we strive for and those of whom we would like to continuously improve the quality of living for.
Overall, being a European Green Capital title holder was a very positive experience for all of those involved and the challenge paid off. Zoran Janković, Mayor of Ljubljana, reflects, ‘The European Green Capital year was remarkable and will forever be a wonderful memory for me.’ For Ljubljana, Mayor Janković says that it’s been just as beneficial, if not more so, ‘The title of European Green Capital has significantly strengthened Ljubljana’s recognition worldwide, upgraded the brand of our city and put us on the map of leading sustainable, green, tourist and innovative cities.’
It is clear from the year’s programme that citizen engagement was at the very heart of the project. The programme has provided a platform for citizens and local authorities to work together, ensuring its success for years to come.
Specifically, Ljubljana involved and collaborated with various stakeholders, such as NGOs, schools, kindergartens, voluntary organisations and other individuals and organisations to take their views on board and ensure the programme was a success.
The end result has been more engaged and responsible citizens taking part and sharing their ideas. As Mayor Zoran Janković, states, ‘I am really happy when I see that our residents appreciate their city, love the environment in which they live and are ready to do so much for it. They are pleased with new things in their local areas, they give us suggestions and ideas, they point out things that need to be dealt with and they are increasingly sensitive to actions that don’t respect the natural world and also urban facilities.’
The report also includes interviews with numerous other people who were involved in the programme, such as the Green Ambassadors, a group of 24 people including citizens and employees of the City Council, public and private institutions, chosen for their enthusiasm and dedication to sustainable development.
Among the 24 Green Ambassadors was Nada Tarman, who has lived in Ljubljana for almost a century. Nada has witnessed many changes in Ljubljana and is very optimistic about the future of the city, stating ‘The title of European Green Capital 2016 is not a single-year project, this is a way of life chosen by its residents!’ You can read more about Nada and the rest of the ambassadors in the report.
People from all age groups participated in Ljubljana’s European Green Capital programme, but children played quite a significant role. In fact, 250 events took place in primary schools and kindergartens, which resulted in the participation of 37,000 children. The official song of the project, ‘Ljubljana for you’, was even written by pupils from Poljane primary school.
The report includes snapshots of various projects and activities aimed at improving the city’s environment, from transforming an abandoned site into a ‘learning laboratory’ (Project Lavida) to making paper from Japanese Knotweed. There are plenty more examples of Ljubljana’s creative projects and events relating to such topics as nature and biodiversity, water, transport, noise and air quality, waste management, and tourism. You can even find a recipe for a green smoothie and instructions on how to redesign your old jeans!
Also featured in the report is the innovative ‘Point. For You.’ project, winner of the Conventa Best Event Award 2016 in the B2C communication category. ‘Point. For You.’, an information point located outside City Hall, hosted over 600 events throughout the year. Each month was dedicated to a different sustainability theme which hosted events such as farmers’ markets, puppet shows for children, tours and exhibitions, drawing almost 34,000 visitors throughout the course of the year.
A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words
Don’t just read about Ljubljana’s transformation – see the before and after photographs. Over the past decade, the city of Ljubljana has carried out over 1,800 projects aimed at improving the urban environment, and it shows! By increasing the number of pedestrian zones and improving the public realm, Ljubljana has steadily become a better place to live and visit.
Congratulations to Ljubljana European Green Capital 2016 for a job well done!