The Estonian capital, Tallinn, has become the “European green capital 2023”; the title was handed over by Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European Union commissioner for the environment, and Éric Piolle, the mayor of Grenoble, the “European green capital” in 2022.
Tallinn won the right to hold the title in 2021, beating competition from Helsingborg, Sweden; Krakow, Poland; and Sofia, Bulgaria.
The “European green capital” is elected by the European Commission, recognising the efforts of cities that “preserve and improve an environment that supports both the living environment and the economy”. The “green capital” is supposed to act as a role model to other cities in sustainable development and thus improve the urban environment in European cities.
Approximately 75% of the European Union’s population live in cities. The award is presented to a city that has at least 100,000 inhabitants and is willing to engage in real change.
The cities are assessed on twelve environmental indicators: air quality, noise, waste, water, nature and biodiversity, sustainable land use and soil, green growth and eco-innovation, climate change in mitigation, climate change in adaptation, sustainable urban mobility, energy performance and governance.
“Tallinn impressed the international jury with their systemic approach to green governance and interlinked strategic goals, which reflect the ambitions of the European Green Deal,” a statement, released on behalf of the European Commission, said upon the selection in 2021. “As one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tallinn is characterised by a diverse and mosaic nature of its landscapes and communities, which also serve as habitats for rare species,” the statement added.
More than 60 events
“The title of the green capital has come home, because it was here in 2006 that the idea [for the European ‘green capitals’] started. I am very happy to see that Tallinn is in its green capital programme paying special importance to biodiversity and resilience,” Virginijus Sinkevičius said at the hand-over ceremony on 21 January.
“The title is a tribute to all of us, especially to our ancestors, who have coded into our genes and the surrounding cultural space the benefits of living in harmony with nature. Today, this title inspires us to shape a friendly and innovative Tallinn,” the city’s mayor Mihhail Kõlvart said at the ceremony.
Tallinn’s main topics for the “green capital 2023” year are biodiversity, climate, eco-innovation and sustainability. The programme aims to offer activities for all residents and guests of Tallinn, including more than 60 events.
The first “European green capital” was awarded in 2010 and 14 cities have been awarded the title thus far: Stockholm (Sweden), Hamburg (Germany), Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain), Nantes (France), Copenhagen (Denmark), Bristol (UK), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Essen (Germany), Nijmegen (Netherlands), Oslo (Norway), Lisbon (Portugal), Lahti (Finland), Grenoble (France) and Tallinn.