Essen, Germany, has officially become the 2017 the European Green Capital. Since its inception in 2010, nine cities have received this “award”: Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes, Copenhagen, Bristol and, in 2016, Ljubljana.
The EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu 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, the people of Essen the very best.”
Moreover, the European Commission is carrying on the project named “Green City Tool”, a new tool which can be used by any city to monitor its environmental performance. It is expected to be launched in June.
The choice of Essen has been determined by many factors: first of all, the target or reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020; a water management system with multifunctional green areas used for flood prevention and rainwater management; the creation of 20.000 jobs in the environmental sector by 2025; the reduction by 29% by 2035 of the car travel; the recycling target of 65% by 2020.
As European Green Capital, Essen can now develop over 300 citizens’ projects and events which will further improve the quality of life of the city.
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.”