European Commissioner for Environment
European Green Capital Award 2014
European Green Capital Award Ceremony
Vitoria-Gasteiz, 29 June 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here this evening in this superb Palacio Montehermoso with all of the anticipation and excitement around as we prepare to reveal the name of the winner of the European Green Capital Award for 2014.
Today almost 80 % of Europeans live in cities. This puts an enormous responsibility on city authorities that need to balance sustainable economic growth and quality of life. It is not easy. This is why those who managed to best combine growth and jobs with sustainable urban living deserve to be rewarded.
How can we make cities more pleasant places to live and work in?
How do we face up to the challenges of the future, while keeping the best of the past, and still taking full advantage of our present?
We already have technological solutions to most of our urban problems – but it is clear that these cannot be implemented overnight. Any major change in our transport systems and energy production systems, for example, will take decades to carry out. These are real challenges. We are well aware of that!
The European Green Capital Award is a celebration of cities that are rising to these challenges. We take a rigorous look at their achievements in numerous areas: local contribution to the fight against climate change, promotion of sustainable transport, green urban areas and sustainable land use, preservation of nature and biodiversity, quality of ambient air, noise reduction, waste management, water consumption, waste water treatment, eco‑innovation and sustainable employment, environmental management by the local authority and energy performance.
This year the selection was not easy – like every year for that matter - 18 entries of excellent quality. I would like to thank the Expert Panel and the Jury. Your job is not always easy. But have now deliberated and reached a final decision.
For most European citizens, cities are the places where environment policy is effectively implemented. Cities are the places with the greatest clout and where environmental decisions matter the most. Cities often have significant footprints so they must learn to tread lightly on the earth.
And tonight we are celebrating those that do. Of the 18 cities that entered the 2014 Award, a shortlist of 3 was drawn up: Bristol, Copenhagen and Frankfurt. All the finalist cities are already winners: the quality of the applications was very high. All applicant cities demonstrate that the pursuit of sustainable policies at the local level promotes, rather than hampers, their economic growth.
I would like to share with you a flavour of the strengths of the shortlisted cities for 2014.
Bristol can be commended for its cutting-edge commitment to reducing climate change, its comprehensive air quality monitoring network, and its series of plans to reduce noise.
Copenhagen's strength lies in energy performance with an emphasis on renewable energy, in local transport with strong strategies for cyclists and pedestrians, and in environmental management, cutting-edge in promoting organic food.
Frankfurt is also strongly committed to energy performance; it has an efficient recycling system and managed to significantly decrease water consumption despite a growth in population.
Who will be the winner tonight? I'm sure we all have our personal preferences. But let's congratulate them all, because win or lose, they have all demonstrated a clear vision of the future, in harmony with the past and with the people. And as William Shakespeare said: What is the city but the people?
Announcement of the winning city – at the end of the award ceremony
I have the pleasure to announce that the winner of the European Green Capital Award 2014 is Copenhagen. Congratulations!
Message to Bristol and Frankfurt
Congratulations on reaching the final stage of the competition and best wishes in your future endeavours to remain a green city.