European Green Capitals
To incentivise European national authorities to invest in the improvement of their local environment, the European Commission has been developing an initiative since 2010, to award cities of their efforts and progresses in sustainable approaches. Their desire is to encourage a high-level commitment and create the opportunity to demonstrate and exchange innovative and effective practices for other cities to adopt and generate global progress in the long run. So far, twelve cities have been awarded as European Green Capitals. Lisbon was nominated the Green European Capital of 2020, as the “ancient city embracing a green future”.
"So far, twelve cities have been awarded as European Green Capitals."
To be nominated, each city needs to perform an application which follows these 12 indicators of a sustainable city: 1) Climate change: Mitigation, 2) Climate Change: Adaptation, 3) Sustainable Urban Mobility, 4) Sustainable Land Use, 5) Nature and Biodiversity, 6) Air Quality, 7) Noise, 8) Waste, 9) Water, 10) Green Growth and Eco-innovation, 11) Energy Performance and 12) Governance.
Lisbon's environmental sustainable strategies
Lisbon’s initial 2030 target was to reduce CO₂ emissions by 40%, which was successfully achieved by 2016. Therefore, it became the first European capital city to sign the New Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and has determined a new target of 60% reduction of CO₂ emissions by 2030.
"Lisbon developed a program to plant 100,000 trees."
In 2012 Lisbon outlined a masterplan for sustainable urban mobility and land use with a Green Corridor Strategy, which required higher density housing and rezoning, to preserve sensitive ecological areas and rehabilitate underground rivers and streams. Another big goal is reducing car use by investing in better and more accessible public transportation, as well as prioritising cycling and walking, with the launch of a bike-sharing scheme and the renovation of city squares and plazas to create space for pedestrians, cycling lanes and green spaces. Additionally, a program was developed to plant 100,000 trees along 4 years, to cool the city and manage flooding, whilst engaging citizens to become active agents in the improvement of the surrounding community (here is an awesome example of how small communities are adapting). To know more about Lisbon’s Commitment and Sustainable Strategies to becoming a greener city, take a look at this brochure.
The green agenda
As the European Green Capital of 2020, Lisbon is holding numerous events such as exhibitions, conferences, festivals, workshops, shows, educational programs and environmental initiatives throughout the whole year. These events are related to a variety of themes such as agriculture, architecture, art, climate, music, nature, illustrations, activities for children and more.
Some of the highlights which you can still attend are the Magical Garden tour, a beautiful night show taking place in the exotic Botanical Gardens, the Scribble Group, an exhibition on the environment which appeals to our senses, Miss Tiny Droplet, a children’s opera show taking place on the 18th and 19th of December, and the Lisbon Environment Biennial, which aims to catalyse communication on global climate change by combining artistic practice and academic science. There are many more spectacular events which you can browse here.
“Lisbon is a role model for combining sustainability and economic growth in a green transition ... I trust that its success will inspire cities and towns across Europe to [...] embrace a green future.”
Virginijus Sinkevičius EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries
This year has been full of adversaries and challenges to our global communities. As we observe the drastic consequences of a pandemic, of climate change, of local and international economies and of social & political crisis, we can see how it is all deeply and irreversibly interconnected. In these times, initiatives like European Green Capital, as well as our own personal and communal determination, are what give us hope for better days to come.