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A map of this year's Green Capital applicants, Source: European Commission

30 cities will compete for the European Green Capital and Green Leaf awards

30 cities will compete for the European Green Capital and Green Leaf awards

The winners to the prestigious distinction will receive one million euros for environmental initiatives

Today, 18 February, the European Commission announced the 30 applicants to this year’s call to become the next European Green Capital and European Green Leaf titleholder. In total, 16 cities from 12 countries have applied to be the European Green Capital 2023 (EGCA 2023), while 14 cities from eight countries have entered the European Green Leaf 2022 (EGLA 2022) contest aimed at smaller cities and towns (20 000 to 99 999 inhabitants).

The official winners will be known later this year and will together receive a total of one million euros from the Commission, to implement new and to uptake existing environmental sustainability initiatives.

Recognising the environmental achievements of cities and towns

The new cycle of European Green City awards has just completed its first important stage, namely – the completion of the applications and the announcement of the European cities and towns that dare to take bold environmental steps and justify them.

In particular, the 16 cities that will be competing for the higher distinction of EGCA are: Belgrade (Serbia), Cagliari, Dublin, Gaziantep and Izmir (Turkey), Gdańsk, Rzeszów, Krakow, Warsaw, Helsingborg, Košice, Logroño, Skopje (Republic of North Macedonia), Sofia, Tallinn, and Zagreb (locate them in the map above).

The cities competing for the distinction among smaller urban settlements – the Green Leaf - are as follows: Arcos de Valdevez, Bistriţa, Elsinore, Frascati, Gavà, Haskovo, Las Rozas de Madrid, Oliveira do Hospital, Petrinja, Pleven, Sisak, Treviso, Valongo and Winterswijk (see map in the gallery above).

Once applied, the city’s pledges will be assessed by independent experts who will shortlist the finalists. When it comes to the Green Capital awards, the assessment is based on 12 environmental indicators, while The Green Leaf award takes 6 topic areas into account.

Accordingly, the finalists will have to present an action plan on how they intend to fulfil the European Green Capital year, including projects or actions they intend to put in place to enhance the city's environmental sustainability, and to present a communications strategy.

Finally, the winners will be announced later this year in Lahti, Finland, which currently holds the Green Capital title.

According to the rules of the contest, there can be only one Green capital and up to two Green Leaf winners. The first will receive a financial stimulus of 600 000 euros and the latter – 200 000 euros each. The money is meant to help the applicants achieve the commitments made during the application process.

“More and more cities in Europe are choosing to go green. This is even more encouraging in the context of the European Green Deal roll out and recovery from the pandemic. European Green Capital and Green Leaf cities show that even in the most difficult circumstances, cities can become fit for life. This means more car-free zones, more public spaces for outdoor leisure activities, cycling paths and pedestrian zones, but also new, innovative urban solutions,” Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries,  was quoted saying on the Commission’s website. This is also where you can learn more about previous winners and details about the assessment procedure.

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