Green Leaf award is a growing attraction
Spain and Portugal share the honours in the 2015 European Green Leaf competition.
The European Commission’s Green Leaf initiative has its first winners. In June, the Spanish city of Mollet del Vallès and Portugal’s Torres Vedras received their awards from EU Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella, at a ceremony in Bristol (UK), this year’s holder of the European Green Capital Award.
EU Commissioner for Environment,
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Congratulating the winning cities, Commissioner Vella said: “I hope that these inaugural European Green Leaf cities will act as role models and inspire others to pursue better environmental stewardship in the future.”
For the record
The award – which is open to European towns and cities with a population of between 20 000 and 100 000 inhabitants – recognises commitment to achieving better environmental outcomes, with a particular focus on generating green growth and new jobs.
The 2015 pilot attracted entries from eight cities in seven European countries, all pursuing the award’s three main objectives: to demonstrate a good environmental record and commitment to green growth; to actively develop citizens’ environmental awareness and involvement; and to act as ‘green ambassadors’ to encourage other cities towards better sustainable urban development.
It is expected that the winners will benefit from a boost to tourism and investment, media coverage, twinning and business opportunities, and a better quality of life for citizens.
Next year's competition is already under way, with registration for the 2016 European Green Leaf Competition closing on 19 October. For more details, see the European Green Capital Award and European Green Leaf Application Portal: http://form.europeangreencapital.ie/
An expert panel will evaluate entries based on various criteria, including climate action and energy performance, mobility, biodiversity, waste and water management, and air quality.
Mollet del Vallès, in Catalonia, is home to around 52 000 citizens in Vallès Oriental, 20 km from Barcelona. The city’s Urban Mobility Plan, prioritising pedestrian mobility, public transport and stakeholder debate, impressed the judges, as did its air quality action plan promoting sustainable transport and cutting pollution. It has also carried out acoustic zoning to protect areas of special interest from noise pollution and sound conflicts. Finally, the Green Point Mobile initiative and vehicle have improved waste collection and treatment, boosting the municipality’s recovery and recycling efforts.
Mobility strategy was also a winner for Torres Vedras, a Portuguese municipality 50 km north of Lisbon with a population of about 72 000. The city’s initial focus on intermodality has been replaced by an ambitious plan encompassing smart mobility, multimodality and clean vehicles. Several projects to limit the unsustainable use of natural resources and reduce biodiversity loss include planting trees, promoting urban agriculture and gardens, and involving residents in landscape protection. The water management scheme aims to lower water consumption and reuse treated wastewater. With a focus on changing citizens’ behaviour, the Environmental Education Centre is running awareness-raising activities, for children and young people in particular.