Nine more cities made a commitment to ambitious environmental action last week by joining the Green City Accord, helping to put Europe on course to achieve a healthy and clean continent for all its citizens by 2030.
Representatives from Burgas, Gothenburg, Utrecht, Vilnius, Vantaa, Florence, Genoa, Riga, and Lyon Metropole officially signed their cities up to the Accord on Wednesday 22 September at a ceremony of commitment hosted by European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius.
The new entries now join 64 cities as part of the Green City Accord. This movement sees members set ambitious targets that go beyond EU minimum requirements in five key focus areas by 2030: nature and biodiversity, circular economy and waste, air, water, and noise.
In this way, cities will also be supporting the European Green Deal and the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Partnership for the environment
“Today, it’s all about you. Europe needs (…) cities and mayors who are determined to involve local stakeholders, innovators, entrepreneurs and young people to build a better, greener future,” Commissioner Sinkevičius said during the ceremony. “Today’s event is a milestone reflecting the spirit of our partnership. It shows that we can go forward together, building a greener environment where quality of life matters,” he added.
Many of the new cities that have joined the Accord already have good track records in environmental protection.
Florence aims to become a “circular city” in the next few years and has embarked upon a journey to meet this goal by 2024 with a series of measures. This includes re-organising the collection of waste and adapting collection methods to the characteristics of the neighbourhood, with some collections happening door-to-door and others involving smart road bins.
And Utrecht, the first Dutch city to sign the Accord, has an ambitious plan to tackle noise pollution through its noise plan. It will be implemented through the construction of new buildings with at least one “quiet side”, and strict legal limits on traffic noise. A focus on promoting an already high level of cycling will also help to tackle air as well as noise pollution in the city.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the Greek region of Central Macedonia, highlighted the importance of the Green City Accord as it prioritises leaders at the local level to build a cleaner and healthier Europe for all citizens.
He added: “The green energy transition and preservation of our precious environment will happen in our cities, regions and villages, or it will not happen at all. The Green City Accord demonstrates the level of local ambition, local commitment and local leadership found across Europe, determined to protect our planet and leave a sustainable future for our people.”
The Accord’s 73 cities will now have to establish their baseline levels and set targets in the five focus areas. Within two years of signing the Accord, cities will have to deliver a report on the progress towards achieving these targets.
Benefits for cities include increased visibility and recognition of environmental actions, knowledge sharing among like-minded cities, increased transparency and accountability among citizens, and networking and funding opportunities.
Eurocities, ICLEI Europe and CEMR are supporting the European Commission in developing and implementing the Green City Accord.
To learn more about the Accord, please visit its website.