Valencia and Cagliari in the run for European Green Capital 2024 Award

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For cities to be sustainable, making use of urban green spaces should be a top priority because they simultaneously address several big issues. In addition to making cities more habitable and healthy, greenery may be employed to cool cities during heat waves.

More and more European cities are becoming aware of the importance of urban greenery and have started making big steps toward becoming more ecologically-friendly and sustainable. However, in light of the fact that two-thirds of Europeans now reside in cities or towns, local governments and authorities must increase their efforts to make their cities even greener.

Since 2010, the European Commission has honored and rewarded local initiatives to protect the environment with the “European Green Capital Award.” There are many advantages to being a European Green Capital, including an even stronger emphasis on environmental projects.

The award was introduced on May 22, 2008, and the Swedish capital Stockholm received the inaugural honor for the year 2010. Since then, many European cities have proudly carried this prestigious title. 

According to the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, previous applicants have stated that the application process helped them assess their goals and aspirations as well as compare themselves to their colleagues.

The European Green Leaf Award debuted in 2015, following in the footsteps of the European Green Capital Award. With this Award, small cities’ sustainable efforts will be recognized (cities between 20,000 to 99,999 inhabitants).

Last month, the EU Commission announced that the Spanish city of Valencia and the Italian city of Cagliari will be competing for the title of the European Green Capital for the year 2024. At the same time, the three cities competing for the Green Leaf Award are Bistrița in Romania, Velenje in Slovenia and Elsinor in Denmark.

The European Commission explained that finalists were determined using 12 environmental indicators for the Green Capital, and on 6 environmental topic areas for the Green Leaf awards. These included air quality, water, nature and biodiversity,  energy performance, climate change mitigation and sustainable urban mobility.

Valencia’s selection as one of the two finalists demonstrates once more how Europe views this charming city’s dedication to sustainability. Located on Spain’s southeastern coast, this sunny city has strong sustainability ambitions. It was the first city in the world to implement a water and carbon compensation scheme in 2019, according to Energy Cities.

Valencia already has several impressive sustainability accomplishments under its belt, such as being named the Capital of Sustainable Food in 2017 and the European Capital of Smart Tourism in 2022. If its bid is successful, Valencia would become the second Spanish city to win the title of European Green Capital after Vitoria-Gasteiz received the award back in 2012. 

The Sardinian city of Cagliari has been extremely committed to the environment and mobility for years. Known for the hilltop Castello, this Mediterranean city also has significant expertise in environmental challenges. Focused on the protection of biodiversity, the city has earned the title of one of Italy’s most nature-oriented cities. 

The winners will be announced on October 27 in the French city of Grenoble, which is this year’s European Green Capital. A financial incentive of €600,000 will also be given to the winner of the European Green Capital contest to help them implement their plan and engage and mobilize local stakeholders and residents. (photo credit: Ricarda Mölck/Pixabay)