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The 2017 Green Cities of Europe

On 21st January, the town of Essen, Germany was awarded the title of European Green Capital 2017.Being the European Green Capital creates more incentive for cities around Europe to become more sustainable and to raise environmental awareness within the community.Additionally, the title has proven to improve the cities’ tourism and aggregate population, because more people are attracted to the city  if it is environmentally friendly.Last year’s Green City was Ljubljana, Slovakia and before that Bristol UK. The city had implemented “Vision 2025”, which aimed to improve the cities’ transportation network and improve urban green measures overall. The nine cities in the past that have been awarded European Green City are Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes, Copenhagen, Bristol, and Ljubljana. The Green City of 2018 witll be Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Essen is a special city to receive the title because in the past it was largely a coal and steel industry, and its incredible transformation to the greenest city in North-Rhine Westphalia is impressive. The mayor of Essen, Thomas Kufen, expressed upon receiving the award that it was a challenge to transform the city that dramatically, but the results proved to be worth it. Some measures that Essen took to become a Green City are as follows:

• Targeted reduction of C02 emissions by 40% by the year 2020

• Created a water management system with multifunctional green areas. It is used for rainwater management, flood prevention and groundwater recharge to prevent rainwater from entering the sewer network;

• Created 376 km of bicycle lanes in hopes of increasing cycling by 25% by 2035

• Reduction of car travel by 29% by 2035

• Recyling target of 65% by 2020

In addition, the European Commission will launch a “Green City Tool” in June 2017, which any city can use to monitor its environmental progress relative to other cities. This will be launched in June. There are also other existing city awards, such as the European Green Leaf 2017. This was created by the European Commission to acknowledge cities’ commitment to the environment and raising awareness of being a Green City. The award was given to Galway City for 2017, and in the past has gone to Mollet del Vallès and Torres Vedras.

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Issue 53