The Estonian capital has been chosen among the other three finalists - Helsingborg, Krakow, and Sofia
Following four previous unsuccessful bids, Tallinn has finally clinched the title of European Green Capital. The Estonian capital beat 16 other cities, including Helsingborg (Sweden), Krakow (Poland) and Sofia (Bulgaria) in the final round, to win the European Commission-awarded designation for 2023.
The jury motivated its decision by underscoring Tallinn’s holistic approach, free public transport, brownfield site conversion, and green ambassadorship.
Four core plans
Tallinn's green approach has been based on four core plans:
- Improving the energy efficiency and indoor climate of buildings,
- Reducing carbon emissions including by offering incentives to people to travel less by car,
- Preserving and increasing biodiversity in the city,
- Achieving a circular economy.
The award carries a check of EUR 600,000 to be spent on the city’s sustainability vision.
Receiving the award on Thursday in Lahti, Finland, the Mayor of Tallinn, Mihhail Kõlvart, acknowledged the work of his team and colleagues on behalf of green Tallinn over the past years. “I thank the jury for this honour and the great responsibility that comes with the title of European Green Capital. Participation in the competition has allowed us to better formulate our efforts, create cooperation networks and adopt strategies. But our incentive is not just titles and directives, but, above all, people. For us, a green capital means that Tallinn is inviting, comfortable, and clean - a city of the future,” said the Mayor according to the city website.
In his speech, Kõlvart recalled that Tallinn was the city where the Green Capital idea was born 15 years ago. On this occasion, he presented to the European Commissioner a historical souvenir - a bronze oak leaf.
Among Tallinn’s outstanding green initiatives is the new Putukaväila park (referred to as “Pollinator Highway” or “Insect Trail”) which sees almost 13 kilometers of unused space converted to urban meadows to encourage the proliferation of pollinators such as butterflies, bumblebees, and honeybees. The pollinator trail passes through nine-panel housing areas and train depots have bike lanes installed and there are plans to extend the tramline through it, connecting the city center to Stroomi beach.
Tallinn’s previous bids
Tallinn previously competed for the title in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022 and has been a finalist in the last two editions of the competition. This year, the city ran against Sofia (Bulgaria), Logrono (Spain), Zagreb (Croatia), Dublin (Ireland), Cagliari (Islands of Sardinia, Italy), Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Rzeszow (Poland), Skopje (Macedonia), Helsingborg (Sweden), Belgrade (Serbia), Košice (Slovakia), Gaziantep and Izmir (Turkey).
European Green Capital – aim and winners
The European Green Capital designation recognizes the efforts of European cities to preserve and improve the urban environment and the quality of life of their citizens. The title is awarded to a city with a population of more than 100,000 people, which has the ability to act as a role model in the field of sustainable urban development and citizen communication.
The competition is based on 12 criteria: air quality, noise, waste, water, nature and biodiversity, sustainable land use and soil, green growth and eco-innovation, climate change in mitigation, climate change in adaptation, sustainable urban mobility, energy performance, and governance.
Previous winners have been: Stockholm, Sweden (2010), Hamburg, Germany (2011), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2012), Nantes, France (2013), Copenhagen, Denmark (2014), Bristol, UK (2015), Ljubljana, Slovenia (2016), Essen, Germany (2017), Nijmegen, The Netherlands (2018), Oslo, Norway (2019), Lisbon, Portugal (2020), Lahti, Finland (2021) and Grenoble, France (2022).
European Green Leaf Award 2022 winners
At the ceremony in Lahti, the winners of the European Green Leaf Award 2022 were also announced: Valongo in Portugal and Winterswijk in The Netherlands.
With this annual award, accompanied by a cash prize of EUR 200,000, the European Commission recognizes the efforts and achievements of municipalities and small towns (20,000 to 100,000 inhabitants) in preserving and improving the environment and climate.
Valongo Municipality has singled out for the involvement of citizens in decision-making processes, the municipal energy efficiency projects, the implementation of urban biological gardens, the door-to-door waste collection system and the creation of the inter-municipal associations Parque das Serras do Porto and Corredor do Rio Leça.
The township of Winterswijk, with a population of 29,000 people, received recognition for its National Landscape and sustainable energy efforts.