2018 – Nijmegen
Nijmegen is a growing city, with more than 170,000 inhabitants and a population density of 3,000 inhabitants/km2. The city is located in the east of the Netherlands and is the largest city in the Arnhem- Nijmegen metropolitan area. A key focal point of the city is the river Waal which provides both significant challenges and opportunities for the city. Until 1990, the city developed around a series of concentric semicircles, with its oldest key point and current centre on the Waal River. From a city where living, working and recreational areas were separated, working areas are today being transformed into modern residential areas.
A key objective of Nijmegen’s European Green Capital Award campaign is to involve citizens and entrepreneurs as much as possible in order to become a healthy and prosperous city. Nijmegen aims to become energy neutral by 2045 and ‘climate proof’ by 2050, and wants to reach these objectives together with its local stakeholders; the city considers its inhabitants, entrepreneurs and knowledge institutions as integral to its environmental improvement.
A participation map of Nijmegen shows all projects undertaken in the public space by citizens. The city is also running a new campaign called ‘Green Connects’ to increase civil participation in the development of green and blue infrastructure and biodiversity projects. Other examples include the expansion of green space in the city centre, a badger habitat protection project, and ‘permablitzes’ where teams carry out very quick garden makeovers throughout the city.
Public participation is also important for the city’s energy projects. For its first windmill park, the municipality needed the support of nature and environmental NGOs to go forward. Private parties mobilised thousands of people, who bought shares in the windm turbines. This raised the trust of banks and enabled investments. The construction of four turbines―delivering energy for 7000 households, or 10% of the city―was started in the beginning of May.