Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by M.Štojs

Nijmegen and Galway's success explained

In Ljubljana last week, the European Commission awarded the cities of Nijmegen and Galway for their commitment to a better urban environment.

Reacting to the news of winning the 2018 European Green Capital Award, Nijmegen’s mayor, Hubert Bruls, said:

The real efforts for local sustainability come from citizens. We, the local authorities, only facilitate them. The award is about transferring these efforts, knowledge and experience to the rest of Europe.

Right now, I am supposed to be in a Council meeting. But the Council is watching the live stream, and they got really excited.

Galway’s mayor, Noel Larkin, also underscored the collective effort that earned his city the European Green Leaf prize for 2017:

It is a wonderful honor to win this prize. We’re so proud, so happy. This European Green Leaf is recognition that we are doing things right—the result of good management structure, a motivated team of 430 and strong leadership. We’re not going to sit on our laurels—now we want to become even better.

Like in past years, cities shortlisted for the awards were invited to present their visions and strategies to a jury. This year the jury found that the quality of both competitions was very high, and that making a decision between these well-prepared, dedicated cities was not easy. Candidate cities—for both awards—demonstrated not only their excellent environmental credentials, but also their potential to be worthy European Green Capitals.

Still, winners had to be chosen. Here's why Nijmegen and Galway were successful, according to the jury.

Nijmegen, European Green Capital 2018

Nijmegen presented a passionate, clear and persuasive vision of their city as a Green Capital winner, and of how they would act as an ambassador for the green city movement across Europe. The jury was impressed by Nijmegen’s engagement with a wide range of stakeholders from the city.

The city’s ambitious, well structured, presentation showed not only their concrete ideas for their future as European Green Capital, but also their ability to deliver them and their willingness to invest time and effort into the initiative. The jury also appreciated the engagement of the city’s residents, who clearly have the concept of a greener city rooted in their values and vision. Nijmegen has already mobilised its citizens for 2018 and has the clear ability to inspire other cities as a role model.

The jury was also impressed with how the city showcased and presented their strengths, including its cycling infrastructure, traffic organisation, and clean public transport, as well as their excellent approach to waste management. The city also framed the strategic plan well within the wider EU level and global sustainable urban agenda.

Galway, European Green Leaf 2017

Galway gave a very inspirational and dynamic presentation, demonstrating significant motivation for the 2017 Green Leaf award. The jury was impressed by the high level of citizen participation (especially by its young population) in Galway, the city’s involvement in various EU initiatives, and the programme proposed for the 2017 Green Leaf year.

Galway is already in the process of taking good practices and strategies from other European cities, including Green Capital and Green Leaf winners, and is adapting those good practices to its own policies. In addition to its environmental performance, the city showed great enthusiasm and motivation to act as a role model and a green ambassador. The jury appreciated Galway’s approach to green growth and their support of SMEs, as well as their commitment to environmental education and communication.