Brussels -- The UK city of Bristol has won the European Green Capital Award for 2015. The award was presented by EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik at a ceremony in Nantes, France, which currently holds the title, on Friday evening. Bristol received recognition for its investment plans in the areas of transport and energy, and especially for its commitment to act as a true role model for the green economy in Europe and beyond. Its communication and social media strategy were also highlighted as a real call to action for its citizens.
Commissioner Potočnik said: 'Congratulations to Bristol for the example they are setting. We have much to learn from these efforts to improve the environment and quality of life for citizens, whilst creating new business opportunities, and I look forward to their year as European Green Capital. They will have numerous occasions to showcase their expertise and their creative approach to engaging with citizens and to developing a green economy.'
First Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions, Mercedes Bresso, said: 'I truly believe in the power innovative green cities can have in leading the agenda of Member States and the European Union. The European Green Capital Award is stimulating and stirring belief among all level of governments, offering our citizens the chance to think, dream and expect the kind of world they want to live in'.
The European Green Capital Award is an annual event to encourage cities to improve the quality of life by systematically taking the environment into account in urban planning and management. The Commission’s proposed 7th Environmental Action Programme (EAP) underpins the initiative as a way of encouraging local authorities and citizens to make cities better places to live.
The Jury considered Bristol’s sustainable community projects to be good examples of citizen engagement to tackle environmental, economic and social issues. The city has committed a budget of EUR 500 million for transport improvements by 2015 and up to EUR 300 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2020. Bristol's transport and urban policies have contributed to achieving better air quality. Thanks to its efforts the number of cyclists has doubled in recent years, and the city is committed to doubling this number again by 2020 (based on 2010 baseline figures).
Bristol has carried out pioneering communication actions, especially through social media to involve citizens in improving the quality of life in the city. Bristol’s tag line “Laboratory for Change” evokes innovation, learning and leadership, and live lab conferences will be made available through social media to build bridges between Bristol and other European cities.
Eight cities applied to become European Green Capital 2015. Each entry was assessed by an international panel of 12 experts and four cities were shortlisted – Bristol, Brussels, Glasgow and Ljubljana. Representatives from the shortlisted cities were interviewed by a Jury which comprised members from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, the European Environment Agency, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Covenant of Mayors Office and the European Environmental Bureau.
The European Green Capital Award is ultimately about making cities more pleasant places in which to live and work. The award is given to a European city that has a record of achieving high environmental standards, is committed to ambitious goals for future environmental improvement and sustainable development and can act as a model to inspire other cities.
Cities entering the European Green Capital Award are assessed in 12 areas – climate change, transport, green urban areas incorporating sustainable land use, nature and biodiversity, ambient air quality, quality of the acoustic environment, waste, water consumption, waste water treatment, eco-innovation & sustainable employment, environmental management and energy.
The European Green Capital Award was conceived by Mr Jüri Ratas, former Mayor of Tallinn, Estonia in 2006, as an initiative to promote and reward efforts, to spur cities to commit to further action, and to showcase and encourage the exchange of best practice among European cities. Six cities – Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes, Copenhagen and now Bristol – have won the award so far, from 2010 to 2015 respectively.