Essen Named 2017 European Green Capital

Jan 26, 2017

The German city of Essen has been named the 2017 European Green Capital for transforming itself from a leader in steel to a leader in environmental protection. In a ceremony held on January 21, the title was handed over from the Slovenian City of Ljublijana - the 2016 winner - to the city of Essen.

Essen Enlarge image (© The annual title, which is awarded by the European Commission, rewards cities for their efforts to become environmentally friendly. Essen's transformation is particularly impressive; the green city used to be a central location for coal mining, steelworks and smokestacks. Today, it is a city with many green spaces and home to farmers, gardeners and local growers who promote regional produce.

Essen is also home to the so-called Radschnellweg Ruhr, a highway for bicycles that links cities in the Ruhr region. This bicycle path is 234 miles long.

Another impressive feature of the green city is the cleanliness of its waters. For the first time in generations, people will be able to swim in the Ruhr River and the Baldeneysee - a lake that is to become an EU certified bathing spot. In the 1960s, the river was one of the dirtiest industrial rivers in Europe.

Essen Enlarge image (© The European Green Capital Award "is recognition of Essen's great efforts to establish itself as a city in transformation; overcoming a challenging industrial history to reinvent itself as a green city," Essen Mayor Thomas Kufen said in a statement. "We strive to be a leading example for other European cities in finding sustainable solutions to urban challenges."

Characteristics of Essen*
An ambitious target of reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020
128,000 square meters of road resurfaced with noise-optimized asphalt
A water management system with multifunctional green areas used for rainwater management, flood prevention and groundwater recharge to prevent rainwater from entering the combined sewer network in at least 15% of the area served by those sewers
376 km of bicycle lanes: goal to increase cycling by 25% by 2035
Creation of 20,000 jobs in the environment sector by 2025
95% of population now living within 300m of green urban areas
Car travel to be reduced by 29% by 2035
No landfill of domestic waste since the 1960s
Recycling target of 65% by 2020

*Source: European Commission

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany