Eurocities Awards 2024: Talent, sustainable food and mobilising voters

20 March 2024

In the global pursuit of sustainable urban development and environmental stewardship, recognising exemplary cities and their innovative initiatives is becoming increasingly important.

Eurocities is delighted to announce the nine cities shortlisted for the Eurocities Awards 2024, which will be presented at our Annual Conference in Cluj-Napoca, 29-31 May 2024. These nine cities stood out for their innovative approaches and collaborative efforts, setting a compelling example for others to follow.

This year, the Eurocities Awards highlight the extraordinary strengths of our members in the following areas:

  • Innovation ecosystems: attracting and retaining talent
  • Sustainable food systems: empowering people
  • Creative election campaigns: mobilising citizens

Innovation ecosystems: attracting and retaining talent

Madrid Centre for Innovation in Circular Economy

The centre serves as a hub for circular economy initiatives, fostering innovation, attracting talent, promoting entrepreneurship and creating new job opportunities and networks within the circular economy realm. The CIEC has become a unique model of public-private collaboration to transform Madrid’s productive and social fabric towards sustainability, digitalisation, and circularity, with inclusion as a key element.

More than 60 enterprises and over 5,000 participants have attended training and awareness-raising sessions in the centre. More information here.

Aix-Marseille – Provence Africa Connect

Provence Africa Connect is a public-private multi-stakeholder initiative designed to promote the metropolis as an innovation Hub for shared prosperity between Europe and Africa. How? Attracting and promoting African talents and supporting innovative projects at each development step.

Every year, Aix-Marseille-Provence welcomes around 10,000 African talents (students, project holders and start-ups) to its university and innovation ecosystem. This context led to the strategic choice of deepening economic linkages between the territory and Africa, within the Agenda for the economic development of Aix-Marseille-Provence. More information here.

Porto – A magnet for talent

The TERA strategy (an acronym for Talent, Evolve, Retain and Attract) aims to attract, develop and retain talent in the city. The council provides knowledge about the labour market and implements promotional actions to attract skilled workers. Porto enhances this work ecosystem through initiatives that bring together that talent with academia and companies to boost skills. Finally, to retain skilled people, the city enhances the careers of those who live, study and work in Porto. More information here.

Sustainable food systems: empowering people

Bordeaux – Establishing a Food Policy Council

In 2017, Bordeaux Metropole became the first French territory to establish a Food Policy Council, where a holistic approach is used to create food policies aligned with the needs of the territory and citizens. Local research, agriculture and food issues are all considered in the transitioning of the food system towards a more sustainable and resilient direction. Implementing a sustainable food and agriculture policy specific to the Bordeaux metropolitan area entails four specific objectives: protection of agricultural land, support to farmers, prioritisation of certain forms of agriculture and giving priority to short distribution circuits to enhance access to healthy food. More information here.

Dortmund – Empowering children for sustainable food

Dortmund focuses on climate-friendly and healthy eating in municipal institutions, especially in day care centres for children. Citizens are encouraged and empowered from an early age to eat and act responsibly. The aim is to steadily increase the share of organic and regional food products through public procurement. The city works on projects to teach children about healthy and sustainable food and sustainable development in general. To date, these projects have reached 8,000 children and local families. More information here.

Pau – La Ceinture Verte

The Green Belt is an integrated approach that aims to accelerate the transition towards short food circuits. It provides fully equipped farms to independent producers, technical assistance to small agricultural holdings, access to sales platforms dedicated to wholesale delivery, semi-large and retail. It also promotes local brands and invests in activities that leverage the local food system’s cultural and economic impact. Eight farms have been raised and all of the farmers involved have reached economic sustainability. More information here.

Creative election campaigns: mobilising citizens

Gdansk – Don’t sleep, or you will be outvoted

This campaign was created to inform and educate the public about the
elections in 2023, while ensuring it did not affiliate with any specific political party. The most important objective of the campaign was to improve on the election turnout record from the year 1989 (62.7%). To help voters make more informed decisions and to promote electoral education, information about the electoral process was published in one place. Another goal was to motivate those citizens who may feel powerless or mistakenly believe that their vote will not change anything. The third objective was to address the campaign to those voting for the first time. More information here.

Rotterdam – Creative elections in Wijk aan Zet

Wijk aan Zet is a new electoral model of local governance on the district/neighbourhood level that ensures citizens have a say in decisions that affect their lives. In the 39 districts in which the city is divided, citizens could stand for election to represent their district without belonging to a political party, and at the age of 16, people were allowed to vote. All districts drew up a four-year agreement with the municipality. Residents, the municipality and organisations make plans for the district, that come together in the district agreement. More information here.

Zurich – Information campaigns can reduce barriers to naturalisation

The City of Zurich has been sending regular information letters to people eligible for Swiss citizenship since 2017. In these campaigns, recipients are informed about the benefits of naturalisation, such as gaining access to political participation. Zurich is investigating the obstacles preventing people from obtaining Swiss citizenship by surveying those who have received information letters. Based on the findings, the content of these information letters is regularly adjusted and updated to address and alleviate these hurdles, aiming to encourage eligible individuals to initiate the naturalisation application process. More information here.

Eurocities Awards 2024

The Eurocities awards not only celebrate the achievements of cities but also inspire others to adopt similar initiatives and contribute to a more sustainable future. An independent jury of five member judges is made up of representatives from Cluj Napoca, the conference host city, an expert on urban issues, a representative from an NGO, an EU representative and the media.

Since the global Covid-19 pandemic, European cities need to change their ways of working in response to several crises, including the war in Ukraine and the ongoing challenges posed by climate change. Today, cities must urgently build a green, innovative and resilient Europe for all.

At our annual conference in Cluj Napoca, we will showcase how cities are addressing evolving needs and increasing the well-being of their inhabitants in a changing world. The awards ceremony will take place on 30 May 2024, as part of the conference.

Read about the last Eurocities Awards winners here.


Sinéad Mullins Communications team leader
Nicola Vatthauer Director for Events, Planning & Statutory Affairs
Marta Buces Eurocities Writer