Eurocities Awards for sustainability, community and youth

17 April 2023

The annual Eurocities Awards recognise cities’ outstanding achievements in improving quality of life for local people, addressing Europe’s challenges at every level: from helping to bring down  energy bills, to supporting refugees as they settle into local communities. 

This year’s awards, in particular, showcase municipalities’ unique approach to working on global challenge in times where multiple crises threaten the future of our society. Here, you can discover the excellent examples of our finalist cities.

Entries are judged by an independent jury of five members, made up of representatives from the conference host city, an expert on urban issues, civil society, the EU institutions and the media.

The awards ceremony will take place on 14 June 2023 as part of the Brussels Urban Summit event, co-hosted by Eurocities. The winners will be crowned during a gala dinner on the premises of the Gare Maritime in Brussels.

Managing the Energy Crisis sustainably

Barcelona – Energy Advice Points  

The Energy Advice Points in Barcelona combat energy poverty. The service provides energy guidance and support through a team of 27 energy advisors, and hires an additional 15 people annually who face difficulties accessing the job market.

The team works on guaranteeing energy rights and improving energy efficiency, promoting employability in vulnerable groups, community intervention and the empowerment of local people. The initiative optimises energy contracts, raises awareness on energy use, and conducts energy audits to improve efficiency. The service reaches an average of 30,000 people annually. 

Hamburg – MySmartLife  

Hamburg’s entry is for MySmartLife, through which it established a foundation for an innovative urban transformation strategy to get rid of fossil fuels. The idea was to understand what prompts local people to become an active part of the energy supply system, focussing on energy generation based on renewable energy sources, efficient energy use, and buildings.

The project saw a district heating system installed based on hydrogen and photo-voltaic solar panels with battery storage, all connected to tenant-lease agreements. Hamburg oversaw the retransfer of ownership of the grid from the private sector back to the public sector to develop a local, decentral energy supply system.

MySmartLife was funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 and carried out with Nantes and Helsinki.

The Hague - Taskforce Energy Crises  

The Hague has appointed an Energy Crisis Taskforce to help residents and entrepreneurs deal with energy costs. The taskforce focuses on reducing energy consumption, assisting those in financial need, and accelerating the transition towards renewable energy sources. Twice per week, experts from various fields come together to provide the most effective and holistic ideas to achieve these goals. 

Informational and participatory meetings with local people and businesses provide information and tips for reducing energy usage. A wide ranging information campaign including letters, posters and newspaper articles helps to spread the message. The taskforce has already achieved a 15% municipal gas reduction.


From human global mobility to local community cohesion


DIVERSITOURS is an intercultural community project of guided tours in two formats: on-site and immersive virtual reality. The goal is to show the richness and contribution of cultural diversity to developing three neighbourhoods of Bilbao: Bilbao la Vieja, San Francisco and Zabala.

It offers the opportunity to walk through a territory with high cultural diversity, with a significant past and present history of migration and intercultural coexistence.  

Ghent - Collections of Ghent  

CoGhent explores the potential of digitised cultural heritage for promoting social cohesion and inclusion at the urban level and does so on a co-creative and participatory basis.

Together with local people and five cultural heritage institutions in the city, CoGhent is building a diverse collection consisting of archival material, museum objects and digitised material from locals themselves.  

Rzeszow – New home for refugees  

Shortly after the Russian invasion, the city of Rzeszów became a transfer point for Ukrainian refugees on their way to different destinations in Europe. However, some of them have decided to stay in Rzeszow. This city plays a focal role in creating a peaceful and safe atmosphere for refugees.

Refugee centre in Rzeszow

It also supports neighbouring cities in Poland and helps Ukrainians to get through this difficult time. The city has come up with many actions to help with adaptation process.  From school children to musicians, Rzeszów is getting everyone involved.

Young people co-creating public spaces

Leeds – Overlooked  

This is the story about how a group of museum volunteers aged 14-24 transformed conversations at weekly meetings on Zoom into a huge project and exhibition that would uncover and tell overlooked histories in Leeds. The group started by asking questions: ‘Why are there no autistic voices in our museum?’, ‘Did trans people not exist in history?’, ‘Why are there no deaf perspectives in our galleries’ and ‘We know about the rich industrialists, but what about the people who worked in the factories?’

When they couldn’t find satisfactory answers to these questions, the volunteers became determined to work with the museum and local communities to find and tell overlooked stories.  

London - Seen & Heard  

Seen and Heard was a research and engagement project to give young people (aged 16-24) a voice in the design and management of their local public space. It took place in the London Borough of Brent, in north west London.

The initiative sought to challenge the fact that young people are often treated more as a security risk than users or stakeholders, and empower them to create positive change in their communities. At the heart of the project was the vital question: “where is my space in this big city?”.  

Lublin - Hej!  

Heji is an open and inclusive youth space co-created with young people around a shared goal. Thanks to cooperation with the Lublin and their partner Ikea, municipal premises were redesigned to meet the needs and preferences of young people. The youth group played a key role in the planning process, identifying the equipment they wanted and how the space should be used.

Since its launch in October 2022, Heji has attracted around 2,600 visitors and has become a place for young people to share skills and ideas through peer-to-peer exchanges. The open youth space  responds to young people’s need to gather together, creating a civil society and a process where both youth and local authorities are equal partners.


Anthony Colclough Eurocities Writer