Green Cities Fit for Life

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Essen becomes the European Green Capital for 2017

Tomorrow, 21 January, the city of Essen in Germany will officially become the European Green Capital for 2017. In a ceremony, Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will hand over the title for 2017 from Ljubljana to Essen.

The European Green Capital Award rewards efforts and commitment to improving the urban environment and boosting awareness of the need for environmental change at the city level. Essen will act as a role model for sustainable urban development, sharing and promoting best practices that have been tried and tested in this German city.

Commissioner Vella said: “I congratulate Essen on becoming European Green Capital 2017 and making the city a healthier place to live in. The impressive transformation from coal and steel industry to the greenest city in North Rhine-Westphalia is proof of Essen’s successful structural change. Great progress in environmental sustainability required vision, good governance, strong leadership and citizens’ involvement. I look forward to Essen’s programme of activities, and I wish Mayor Kufen, his team, and the people of Essen the very best.

Thomas Kufen, Mayor of Essen, said: “This award is recognition of Essen’s great efforts to establish itself as a city in transformation; overcoming a challenging industrial history to reinvent itself as a Green City. We strive to be a leading example for other European cities in finding sustainable solutions to urban challenges. We also wish to thank our citizens, as it is their ability to change and their engagement that has been key to our success. We are very excited to show the rest of Europe what Essen has to offer in its year as European Green Capital 2017.”


What impressed the jury?

  • An ambitious target of reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020;
  • 128,000m2 of road resurfaced with noise-optimised asphalt;
  • A water management system with multifunctional green areas used for rainwater management, flood prevention and groundwater recharge; it will prevent rainwater from entering the combined sewer network in at least 15% of the area served by those sewers;
  • 376km of bicycle lanes: increase cycling by 25% by 2035;
  • Creation of 20,000 jobs in the environmental sector by 2025;
  • 95% of the population now living within 300m of green urban areas;
  • Car travel to be reduced by 29% by 2035;
  • No landfill of domestic waste since the 1960s;
  • Recycling target of 65% by 2020.

During its year as European Green Capital 2017, Essen plans to initiate over 300 citizens’ projects and events that will further improve the quality of life of the city and put sustainability at the heart of the city’s development programmes.

Find out more about the European Green Capital 2017 at its official website