Vitoria-Gasteiz and Nantes named Green Capitals for 2012 and 2013
The city centre of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the 2012 Green Capital, is surrounded by a wide 'green belt', so none of its inhabitants live more than 300 metres away from a green space. The city has also made a huge effort to reduce its water consumption, and aims to bring it down to less than 100 litres a day per person.
Nantes, the winner for 2013, went for an ambitious transport policy. It was the first French town to reintroduce electric trams, and it now has an enviable air quality and expects to be able to reduce its CO2 emissions by a quarter by 2020.
The title of European Green Capital is awarded each year to a European city that has taken exceptional steps towards protecting the environment and making its development sustainable. The judges' decision is based on eleven environmental criteria, such as contribution to the fight against climate change and sewage treatment.
Four out of five Europeans now live in towns or cities. This means their quality of life is heavily dependant on the efforts of local authorities to improve the urban environment - for example by providing green spaces, having good waste management and improving public transport.
The aim of the Green Capital Award is to make winning cities role models for sustainable urban development.