Every year, since 2010, a new European green capital is chosen by an international jury. Their decision is based on several criteria, such as air pollution, transport or waste management.
So, after Vitoria, Spain in 2012, Nantes is now the new green capital of Europe.
There are several initiatives that helped Nantes receive this award. One of the more interesting ones involves increasing access to urban green spaces: every inhabitant must have access to an urban green space located less than 300 meters from his/her home. Nantes successfully met this challenge. Other measures concern, for example, water consumption per inhabitant or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
To celebrate this award, Nantes has organised several events, including a number of conferences. This is a unique opportunity for Nantes to become more visible, improve its image and attract investors and companies.
Some may feel this award is simply anecdotic, and is basically a marketing tool. However, it could also have the effect of encouraging other cities to emulate Nantes and to adopt greener practices.
To continue this initiative, it will be necessary to keep the jury – made up of academics and private consultants – independent of external influences, so as not to undermine the event’s impact. We would suggest that social societies should also be associated with this event.
The same kind of award should be organized in China. Yes, there are already many Chinese cities that are labeled as green cities. But one of the strengths of the European Green city award is the fact that there are different, verifiable indicators used to select the winner. In order to be “green”, cities first need to be “transparent”.