Looking forward to the Green Capital of Europe

Today three out of four Europeans live in towns and cities, but those cities do have to offer an environment worth living.

English: Flag of the Brussels-Capital Region L...For me Brussels is a dirty city, though it has many beautiful hidden treasures and lots of green, not known to many tourists. But it is lacking green on the streets where most people come.

I am happy that the Economist Intelligence Unit international research bureau has found ecological improvements since 2009.

Brussels is already the political capital of Europe, but it was also one of four finalists hoping to win the title of European Green Capital 2015, as awarded by the European Commission, but it missed it. The European Green Capital Award recognises cities that are at the forefront of environmentally-friendly urban living. The annual award is intended to inspire European cities to take action to become more attractive and healthy places to live, work and visit – cities that are “fit for life”. The European Green Capital Award recognises cities that are at the forefront of environmentally-friendly urban living. The annual award is intended to inspire European cities to take action to become more attractive and healthy places to live, work and visit – cities that are “fit for life”.

The European Green Capital Award is the outcome of an initiative taken by cities with a green vision. The concept was originally conceived at a meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, held on 15 May 2006, at the initiative of Mr Jüri Ratas, former Mayor of Tallinn, where 15 European cities and the Association of Estonian cities signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of such an award.

Eight cities submitted bids for 2015. They were assessed against 12 criteria including innovation and sustainable employment, energy performance, water consumption, waste water treatment and climate change. Six cities – Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes, Copenhagen and Bristol – have won the award so far, from 2010 to 2015 respectively. The 2015 Green Capital, Bristol, was announced last Friday in Nantes at the annual award ceremony.

Europe is now an essentially urban society, with three out of four Europeans living in towns and cities. Many environmental challenges facing our society originate from urban areas but it is also these urban areas that bring together the commitment and innovation needed to resolve them. The European Green Capital Award was conceived as an initiative to recognise efforts, to encourage cities to take further action, and to showcase and encourage exchange of best practice among European cities.

In addition to inspiring other cities, this increased profile can enhance the winning city’s reputation and attractiveness as a destination for people to visit, work and live in.

English: City of Brussels in the Brussels-Capi...

City of Brussels in the Brussels-Capital Region (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

European_green_capitalThe European Green Capital Award has been conceived to promote and reward the efforts urban areas have to face the ecological challenges, bringing together commitment and innovation to resolve them.

Brussels has the difficulty of Community force problems to lead its green management in the right direction. So no wonder it did not win the battle. On the 19th June 2013 the Award Ceremony hosted by the current European Green Capital, Nantes, crowned Bristol European Green Capital 2015.

Mayor of Bristol, Mr. George Ferguson with Commissioner Janez Potočnik

Mayor of Bristol, Mr. George Ferguson with Commissioner Janez Potočnik

For Bristol, it is third time lucky as the British green city has entered the European Green Capital award for the third time this year. It is a testament to the city and its citizens that their years of hard work have finally paid off resulting in the achievement of this prestigious European recognition.

Inner city Royal Palace opposite the Central Park Warande

Brussels has still some way to go to reach the level of Copenhagen and Amsterdam but I must admit we can notice some improvements for cyclists. Cycling paths stagnated since 2009. And for those willing to cycle in the busy traffic they still have to face the fine dust which exceeds acceptable standards and a road congestion in Brussels which is among the worst in Europe. Good against the pollution is the largest increase public transport saw, from 14.5% of journeys in 1999 to 25% now for trams, buses and metro combined, according last weeks report by the Brussels-Capital Region’s knowledge centre for mobility. Train travel only went up from 0.2% to 0.9%, but the figures cited are only for travel within Brussels. For those entering and leaving the region, the train figures were much higher. The last time such a survey was carried out was in 1999, when half of all journeys, regardless of length, were by car. Now that figure has come down to 32%. Over the same period, walking has increased from 32% to 37%. Cycling is also more popular than in the previous survey – 3.5% up from 1.2%. The Brussels car-sharing service Cambio is celebrating its 10th anniversary and now has 10,000 subscribers, with a target of 25,000 by the year 2020, mobility minister Brigitte Grouwels said.

En route to sustainable neighbourhoods: whether it involves major exemplary urban projects, revitalising old neighbourhoods, or simply finding new ways to live together. By acting with the residents of existing neighbourhoods, using vacant land for collective activities, and conducting collective housing projects, the entire urban fabric is being transformed into a veritable patchwork of sustainable initiatives throughout the area.

Positive we may call the measures that caused a significant reduction of inhabitants’ water consumption. Although the city’s consumption of energy also declined, Brussels actually scored better in 2009 in terms of the energy consumption of residential buildings. Evelyne Huytebroeck, Brussels minister for energy and environment, pointed out that the government was tackling this problem through various initiatives including the Exemplary Buildings programme. This programme stimulates eco-friendly construction or renovation of buildings through financial help, technical assistance and public visibility for the buildings and their designers. at many places we can see constructors isolating the older houses and rooftops being furnished with sunheat collectors and sun-energy collectors. We see a big increase odf people becoming more interested in the conversion of buildings to the low-energy passive standard. the measurements to be able to deduct some costs for the taxes is really helping. Also new or renovated public buildings have had to comply with this energy-efficient standard since 2010 and passive-energy construction will become mandatory for private buildings in 2015.

In addition to energising and revitalising existing neighbourhoods,the Brussels-Capital Region supports (notably by providing a “Sustainable Neighbourhoods Facilitator”) construction of new sustainable neighbourhoods on vacant urban land, allowing the emergence of innovative overall projects with regard to energy, social diversity, environmental management and mobility. The Rue de Tivoli sustainable neighbourhood in Laeken provides for construction of more than 500 new residences. In Forest, the new Bervoets sustainable neighbourhood will include 239 housing units developed in an estate designed according to sustainable development criteria. The majority agreement of 2009 provides in addition that any urbanisation project on open land must be carried out in a sustainable neighbourhood philosophy.

Brussels

Brussels (Photo credit: Mathew Knott)

Brussels may not have won but the implemented numerous actions for the past few years the Brussels-Capital Region has  brought forward should be continued so that in a few years time we will be able to reach that necessary goal is to make Brussels, the Belgian and European capital, a model of sustainable development, quality of life and solidarity for all.

The European Commission has launched its search already for the 2016 European Green Capital.

For the first time, cities across Europe with more than 100,000 inhabitants can apply for the title. Previously only cities with a population of 200,000 or more were eligible. The change means that the award is now accessible to over 400 cities across Europe.

The benefits of being a European Green Capital start with a cleaner environment, new jobs and investments, and include an increase in tourism, with benefits from positive international media coverage and more sponsorship for environmental projects.

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: “The European Green Capital Award showcases local efforts to improve the urban environment and promote sustainable growth. As we launch the competition for the seventh European Green Capital, for 2016, I would like to encourage smaller cities to apply and to use this as an opportunity to review and highlight their environmental achievements and plan a sustainable future for their citizens.”

The award aims to:

  • Recognise cities that have a well-established record of achieving high environmental objectives
  • Encourage cities to commit to ambitious goals for future environmental improvement and sustainable development, and
  • Inspire other cities through new ideas, best practices and experiences.

Entries will be assessed on the basis of 12 indicators: climate change, mitigation and adaptation; local transport; green urban areas incorporating sustainable land use; nature and biodiversity; ambient air quality; quality of the acoustic environment; waste production and management; water management; wastewater treatment; eco-innovation and sustainable employment; energy performance; integrated environmental management.

The award is open to EU Member States, acceding and candidate countries, (Croatia, FYROM, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) and European Economic Area countries. Cities can apply online at www.europeangreencapital.eu. The deadline for applications for the 2016 title is 17 October 2013. The title is awarded by a European jury supported by a panel of renowned experts in different environmental fields. The winner will be announced in June 2014.

Please do find:

They support Brussels for European Green Capital !

Sustainable neighbourhoods

Bristol named European Green Capital for 2015
“You talk to all of the cities that have been green capital – they’re all here with me tonight – and they say it’s made a huge difference to their cities, to the perception of the city, to making sure it’s a really good place to live in.

 

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  • Top 5 Brussels (doit4mebrussels.wordpress.com)
    The one must see place in Brussels is “la Grand-Place”, an astoundingly beautiful square in the center of the city listed as World Heritage. Originally built in 1523, la Grand-Place is a piece of history itself and is now where the Town Hall is located. Although one ought to be aware that it might be too much of a tourist spot to eat, within its surroundings there are some small and cozy restaurants which are highly recommended.
  • Brussels/Bruxelles (aacrandell.wordpress.com)
    Since we have been in big cities the whole time it is easy to forget the beautiful green countryside we see on our train rides. It is still green here. We have passed several small forests and smaller farm town.
  • Resistance from inside. Brussels on the way to sustainable development (ip2013krakow.wordpress.com)
    If urban policy is based on the requirements of a global bureaucracy rather than on the common needs of local dwellers, how would that city transform? Within the context of this frequently asked question, we focus on the aspects of urban governance in Brussels’ development. As a leading political city in Europe, Brussels is currently in dramatic need of a new urban vision that would overcome the negative consequences of its former alteration caused by international influences.
  • Europe Adopts Greener Agricultural Policy (ens-newswire.com)
    Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy will be reformed so that specific environmental practices will be a condition of payments to EU Member States from central government coffers under an agreement reached today by the European Parliament, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission.The agreement – reached after three years of intense talks and three days of marathon negotiations in Luxembourg and Brussels – marks the first time that a major reform of the CAP has been secured with the involvement of the European Parliament.
    +Under the new agreement, Europe will invest over 100 billion euros between 2014 and 2020 to help farmers meet the challenges of soil and water quality, biodiversity and climate change.To strengthen the environmental sustainability of agriculture and enhance the efforts of farmers, the EU adopted the Commission’s proposal of spending 30 percent of direct payments for the improved use of natural resources.

    The “Greening” of 30 percent of direct payments applies to all 27 EU Member States, all rural areas and all farmers. It will be linked to three environmentally-friendly farming practices: crop diversification, maintaining permanent grassland and conserving five percent, and later seven percent, of areas of ecological interest from 2018 – or measures considered to have equivalent environmental benefits.

  • The Bristol Post published Above all we need to end the deadlock with First Bus (thisisbristol.co.uk)
    IT’S good news that Bristol has, on our third attempt, won our bid to become European Green Capital. Bristol is already a hub of green expertise, being home to organisations like the Soil Association, the Environment Agency and Sustrans. We also have world-leading companies such as the renewable energy experts, Garrard Hassan.
  • The launch of Greeniversity Bristol at Big Green Week (biggreenweekbyecojam.wordpress.com)
    Bristol is a great place for green skill sharing. As European green capital and with a lot of green activities taking place it’s about encouraging people to share their skills and learn new ones. Beekeeping is especially popular at the moment.
  • What a brilliant start to Big Green Week – weekend review (biggreenweekbyecojam.wordpress.com)
    On Friday it was announced that Bristol has been crowned European Green Capital for 2015 so spirits were high as we entered the first weekend.
    +
    On Saturday night, the Farefashion event at City Hall, the launch party for Big Green Week, went brilliantly. 170 people joined Mayor, George Ferguson, sporting his new green trousers to go with the Green Capital 2015 Award.
  • My Bristol favourites: Yoma Smith (bristol-culture.com)
    Bristol is the arts and culture capital of the world. Fact! And a top-five current cultural event for me is Mayfest. It’s like the annual precursor to Bristol’s concentration of summertime events. More importantly, it delivers a fabulous variety of contemporary and alternative theatre.
    +

    A main attraction for me when I moved to Bristol were the number and accessibility of beautiful green spaces. I love how they are maintained and put to such great use for everyone from Queen Square to St Andrew’s Park, the Downs to Ashton Court, Canford Park, Blaise Castle, Castle Park, Mina Road Park (below) and dozens more. And onto green principles, with Bristol being at the forefront of most green initiatives in the UK. We have a thriving green economy with a multitude of organisations driving the agendas for ethical and sustainable food, clothing, energy, travel tourism, planning and much more. Bristol is truly deserving of the European Green Capital award. Come on 2015!”

    Central Library Bristol

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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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