Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by Jean-Dominique Billaud



Nijmegen is a growing city, with approximately 168,000 inhabitants and a population density of 2,920 inhabitants/km2. The city is located in the east of the Netherlands and is the largest city in the Arnhem- Nijmegen metropolitan area. A key focal point of the city is the river Waal which provides both significant challenges and opportunities for the city.

Until 1990, the city developed around a series of concentric semicircles, with its oldest key point and current centre on the Waal River. From a city where living, working and recreational areas were separated, working areas are today being transformed into modern residential areas. By 2040, it is expected that Nijmegen will house 180,000 inhabitants. The city also has the ambitious goal to become energy neutral by 2040. The city considers itself an “Urban Lab” making good progress towards sustainability. While the population of Nijmegen is growing, yet its CO2 emissions are falling. This is due to many projects such as a home heating network based on waste heat, covering approximately 14,000 homes and fuelling city buses with biogas.

From a ‘city on the river’, Nijmegen has now become the city that embraces and incorporates the river; this transition is supported by the opening of a cycling bridge in 2004 and a road bridge in 2013.


Nijmegen has a high performing waste management system which operates in tandem with a range of innovative and progressive waste awareness, prevention and reuse measures. These measures are supported by the citizens of Nijmegen through positive individual and collective behaviours which contribute to the delivery of an exemplary waste and resource management system in Nijmegen. Nijmegen, with a current recycling rate of 68%, strives to build on this further and reach a rate of 75% by 2020.


Nijmegen has completed a major building task of developing 12,000 homes and a bypass in the river

Waal for climate adaptation purposes. Nijmegen has converted both challenges into opportunities by developing a new district, Waalsprong, with a sustainable water system, stringent energy performance standards, district heating from the residual heat of waste incineration and a robust green-blue framework that connects to the natural landscapes around Nijmegen. These projects are exemplary in demonstrating the integrated approach Nijmegen has towards spatial planning and sustainable land management.