Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. 40% of Bulgarian GDP is generated in the capital. In the last couple of years the city has become a regional hub for start-up companies as a result of the operations of three early stage investment funds. In 2015 Forbes listed Sofia among the 10 top cities to launch a start-up.

In the last ten years the city has undergone some major infrastructure development projects - an expansion of some of the metro lines which now exceeds 40 km in length, providing transportation for close to 400,000 people while preventing the release of over 75,000 tons of CO2 every year. Additionally, the whole public transportation is being modernized with highly efficient vehicles by implementing the Sofia Integrated Urban Transport Project developed under the Operational Programme Regional Development 2007-2013. Another example of successful infrastructure development project was the establishment of the waste processing plant of Sofia, which just a year after started functioning has led to a 79% decrease in the amount of waste deposited in landfills.

Still, with the increased economic activity, urbanization, and the geographic location, the pollution levels in Sofia have been constantly increasing.

Concerned about this situation, twenty-four NGOs and civil organizations founded the “Sofia – Green Capital” initiative, with the aim to transform Sofia into a modern and sustainable city. The initiative was encouraged by the Mayor of Sofia, Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova. Consequently, this past October, she appointed a taskforce to develop the “Green Sofia” project - SOfia GREEN.

The team will be analyzing the city’s performance across various environmental indicators. Together with the NGO’s, universities and research institutes, experts and the citizens, SOfia GREEN will prepare a proposal with ideas and measures, which the Municipality has to review and adopt as a long-term strategy and specific short-term measures. In that sense, the openness of the process is crucial providing citizens with the opportunity to participate freely in the ideas-sharing process and setting the city's priorities.

SOfia GREEN is willing to collaborate with regional and international partners in order to exchange know-how on accelerating the transition to sustainable practices in the city and raising the awareness among its inhabitants.

* The content of this opinion piece does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author.