Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by Ursula Bach


Why has the European Commission launched the European Green Capital Award?

The European Green Capital Award is the result of an initiative taken by 15 European cities (Tallinn, Helsinki, Riga, Vilnius, Berlin, Warsaw, Madrid, Ljubljana, Prague, Vienna, Kiel, Kotka, Dartford, Tartu & Glasgow) and the Association of Estonian cities on 15 May 2006 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Their green vision was translated into a joint Memorandum of Understanding establishing an award to reward cities that are leading the way with environmentally friendly urban living.

The Award is becoming increasingly relevant since Europe is now an essentially urban society, with two out of three Europeans living in towns and cities.

Most of the environmental challenges facing our society originate from urban areas but it is also these urban areas that bring together the commitment and innovation needed to resolve them. The European Green Capital Award aims to promote and reward these efforts.

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What are the award’s objectives?

The objectives of the European Green Capital Award are to:

a) Reward cities that have a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards;
b) Encourage cities to commit to ongoing and ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development;
c) Provide a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices and experience in all other European cities.

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What is the policy background of the award?

The Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment of 11 January 2006 outlines the European Commission’s commitment to support and encourage Europe’s towns and cities to adopt a more integrated approach to urban management.

The 7th Environmental Action Programme (EAP) has a significant focus on policies for sustainable urban planning and design.

The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the European Commission's 2019 Reflection Paper Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030, and developments across several policy areas are also relevant for the urban environment.  More recently, the European Green Deal puts sustainability at the heart of all EU policies.

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What is the award’s message?

The main message is that Europeans have a right to live in healthy urban areas, and towns and cities should therefore strive to improve the quality of life of their citizens and reduce their impact on the global environment.

This message is brought together in the slogan “Green cities – fit for life”

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What do the branding and logo represent?

A graphic identity has been developed to promote the winning European Green Capital and the actual award itself.

The graphic identity aims to give winning cities a dynamic and unique branding platform which, benefits the cities and, at the same time, increases visibility of the award.

A key element of the graphic identity is the logo showing a row of city buildings in greens and blues.

The colours are intended to represent clean air, a green approach to the environment and a positive attitude to city living.

The leaf embracing the city symbolises how candidate cities care for their citizens by improving the environment in which they live.

The stars refer to the European Union.

The logo is complemented by a frieze with different plants to be used in all promotional material to create a strong and coherent feel.

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Will this award help cities improve the quality of their environment?

It is important to reward cities which are making efforts to improve the urban environment and move towards healthier and sustainable living areas. Progress is its own reward, but the satisfaction and pride involved in winning a prestigious European award will spur cities to invest in further efforts and will boost awareness in other cities.

The award will enable cities to inspire each other and share best practices, in the context of a friendly competition.

Winning the title of the European Green Capital will also bring advantageous side effects such as increased tourism, more investment and an influx of young professionals.

It is therefore in a city’s interest to become a prosperous place to live and work. Please see the next question for details on the benefits of winning the Award.

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What are the benefits of winning the Award?

Being a European Green Capital brings many benefits long after the designated year ends. Some of the city specific benefits of our previous winners are detailed below. A summary of these includes:-

  • Increase in tourism
  • Positive international media coverage worth millions of euro
  • Increase in international profile, networking and new alliances
  • New jobs – a Green Capital is more attractive to foreign investors
  • More emphasis on environmental projects through sponsorship and grants
  • Pride among citizens
  • Momentum to continue improving environmental sustainability

Vitoria-Gasteiz, European Green Capital 2012, has been able to reach agreements with other institutions and external funding including millions of euro of sponsorship for new environmental projects such as 250,000 more trees in the Green Belt, and flood prevention works from now until 2020.

EGC Logoc Vitoria-GasteizInternational alliances provided new business development opportunities with China, Denmark, Brazil, the USA and Latin America.

The enhanced profile of the city resulted in 12% international tourists visiting the city. All citizens developed an acute sense of belonging and pride.

View more information about the European Green Capital 2012 – Vitoria-Gasteiz here

EGC Hamburg Logo Hamburg, the 2011 European Green Capital, generated phenomenal national and international media coverage.

This was mostly linked to the Train of Ideas – 800 media reports reached over 270 million people in six months including potential tourists and investors.

The city has been internationally recognized as a green metropolis with innovative technologies, which will have a great impact in the long term. Already there has been a 57% increase in the number of Renewable Energy sector jobs from 2008 to 2012.

Hamburg could set the course for further environmental protection development with landmark decisions taken on energy, climate protection and transport policy.

View more information about the European Green Capital 2011 – Hamburg here

Stockholm, European Green Capital 2010, welcomed media from all over the world as well as 120 delegations on professional study tours and close to 360 delegates to its European Green Capital Conference.

It participated in 80 other international events related to the award. It continues to open its doors to everyone that wants to learn from its achievements.

The award gave the city strong recognition for its green achievements and Stockholm is now more determined than ever to keep up the pace for a sustainable urban development to become a green capital forever.

View more information about the European Green Capital 2010 – Stockholm 2010

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Who is the Secretariat and how was the contractor chosen?

The Secretariat is currently run by PHRENOS, a Belgian company located in Brussels. PHRENOS manages a variety of projects ranging from PR and social-media focused strategies, event implementation to public affairs and stakeholder campaigns. This appointment was made following an open call for tender published in the Official Journal of the European Union in 2020.

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EU funding for cities

The European Green Capital Award does not include any pool of funds to support initiatives of participating cities, but it may be relevant for local authorities to explore other funding opportunities at the EU level.

Please see the Funding for Green Initiatives section on our Policy & Background page for more information on opportunities for European funding for cities.

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