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Awards for green urban living - 23/02/2009

Stockholm and Hamburg named first ‘green capitals’. Budapest wins European mobility week award.

With 74% of the EU population now living in cities and towns of more than 5 000 inhabitants, the need for clean, sustainable urban development has never been greater. The EU is seeking to encourage just that with the European green capitals award. The accolade – to hold the title of ‘green capital’ for a year - promotes environmentally friendly urban living and recognises local authorities’ efforts to solve environmental problems.

Stockholm and Hamburg are the first cities to claim the title. The Swedish capital will be European Green Capital in 2010, while Hamburg will take over the reins in 2011.

The jury was particularly impressed by Stockholm’s extensive programme for improving quality of life through water purification, noise reduction, an integrated waste system, a congestion charging system and more recreational areas, such as bathing beaches.

Hamburg, home to 1.8 million people, boasts excellent air quality. But on this occasion it was the city’s energy-saving measures in public buildings that won the award.

Another popular prize - the European mobility week award - went to Budapest for its efforts during mobility week to raise public awareness of air pollution from traffic and promote cleaner alternatives.

In addition to a range of events to promote sustainable urban transport - including a “clever commuting race” in which VIPs demonstrated the efficiency of public transport - the Hungarian capital introduced several permanent measures. These included an expansion of the town centre’s pedestrian area, improved public transport infrastructure and the creation of new bike lanes and “park and ride” facilities. Almada in Portugal and the Croatian capital Zagreb were runners-up.

An annual event since 2002, European mobility week takes place from 16 to 22 September and is dedicated to sustainable mobility. The next mobility week will focus on the contribution of urban transport to climate change. Activities will once again include the closure of roads for cars around Europe.

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