Twelve European cities from 11 countries have submitted entries for a chance at being European Green Capital in 2016. The deadline for cities to submit entries has now closed, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik confirmed.
Each year, the European Green Capital Award is bestowed on a city at the forefront of environmentally friendly urban management.
These cities aim to set higher standards in sustainable urban development, listening to what their citizens want and pioneering innovative solutions to environmental challenges, according to the European Commission.
Dublin City in Ireland entered the competition last year, but narrowly missed out on been given the accolade.
2016 shortlist for the European Green Capital Award
The 12 cities up for the European Green Capital in 2016 are:
- Dąbrowa Górnicza (Poland)
- Larissa (Greece)
- Essen (Germany)
- Umeå (Sweden)
- Zaragoza (Spain)
- Pitesti (Romania)
- Ljubljana (Slovenia)
- Nijmegen (The Netherlands)
- Oslo (Norway)
- Santander (Spain)
- Reggio Emilia (Italy)
- Tours (France)
Potočnik said in a statement he was very pleased to see the many applicants for the European Green Capital Award.
"This shows the commitment of European cities to improve the quality of life of their citizens and the environment," he said, adding that the Green Capital Award initiative provides a springboard for sharing best practices, ideas and showing the way to other cities.
"I wish all of the applicants the very best of luck with the 2016 competition."
This year, the awards took a slightly different slant.
For the first time, cities across Europe with at least 100,000 inhabitants were eligible to apply for the 2016 title.
In previous years, only cities with a population of 200,000 could submit entries.
Opening the award to smaller cities has led to more than half the applications coming from cities with less than 200,000 inhabitants, the European Commission said.
An international expert panel will now perform a technical assessment of each entry on the basis of 12 indicators, which are:
- Climate change
- Water management
- Waste-water treatment
- Mitigation and adaptation
- Local transport
- Green urban areas incorporating sustainable land use
- Integrated environmental management
- Ambient air quality
- Quality of the acoustic environment
- Waste production and management
- Eco-innovation and sustainable employment
- Energy performance
- Nature and biodiversity
In 2014, the shortlisted cities will be invited to present their proposals to an international jury, which will evaluate their commitment to ongoing environmental improvement, as well as their future goals.
The European Commission said the jury would also evaluate the 12 cities’ ability to communicate with citizens, also looking at their capacity to act as a role model and promote best practices in other European cities.
The eventual 2016 winner will be announced in June 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the 2014 European Green Capital.
Six cities have been awarded the title of European Green Capital since the initiative began in 2010.
Stockholm, Sweden won the inaugural title, then Hamburg, Germany in 2011 and Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, in 2012. The 2013 holder is Nantes in France.
Bristol in the UK has earned the title for 2015.
Illuminated Earth image via Shutterstock