Green cities: European Commission launches competition for next Green Capital and Green Leaf Winners

Green cities: European Commission launches competition for next Green Capital and Green Leaf Winners

Green cities: European Commission launches competition for next Green Capital and Green Leaf Winners

Today, the European Commission is calling on European cities embarking on the path to sustainability to apply for the 2024 European Green Capital and 2024 European Green Leaf Awards. The Awards promote and reward the efforts of European towns and cities striving to improve the quality of life for their inhabitants and reduce their impact on the local and global environment.

Winning cities will be awarded a financial prize and will join the ever-growing network of leading European cities sharing knowledge and expertise and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: tackle the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, we need to act fast not only globally, but also locally. Every city has a key role to play in the green transition. Our European Green Capital and Green Leaf Award winners are a true inspiration – they show that by changing the way we live, work, and move, we create more livable, green and resilient cities. Now we’re looking for new candidates. I call on European cities to rise to the challenge and embark on the green journey.

The Awards are open to towns and cities: the European Green Capital Award is open to cities with over 100 000 inhabitants, while the European Green Leaf Award is
open to all towns and cities with 20 000 to 99 999 inhabitants. For this cycle, the Capital and Leaf winning years were aligned to give more clarity but also more time for the Leaf winners to well prepare their winning years. Another novelty is the requirement for cities to provide with their application an outline of actions and events for their year in case they win.

The winner of the Green Capital Award will receive €600 000 and up to two cities will receive €200 000 each as Green Leaf winners. The financial prize contributes to supporting the winning cities in implementing initiatives and measures to enhance its environmental performance and reach out to citizens especially during their winning year.

TheEuropean Green Capital Award was launched by the European Commission to encourage cities to become greener and cleaner, and to improve the quality of life for inhabitants. With over two-thirds of Europe’s population living in cities, cities play a leading role in the social, environmental, and economic transformation prioritized by the European Green Deal.


Each year, a panel of independent urban sustainability experts assesses the performance of the competing cities against 12 environmental indicators. Building upon their recommendation and after factual background checks, as required, the Commission selects the finalists. The winner will be selected by a Jury.

Fourteen cities have won the European Green Capital Award to date: Stockholm (2010), Hamburg (2011), Vitoria-Gasteiz (2012), Nantes (2013), Copenhagen (2014), Bristol (2015), Ljubljana (2016), Essen (2017), Nijmegen (2018), Oslo (2019), Lisbon (2020), Lahti (2021), Grenoble (2022) and Tallinn (2023).

Thirteen other cities have won the European Green Leaf Award: Mollèt del Valles, Spain and Torres Vedras, Portugal (2015); Galway, Ireland (2017); Leuven, Belgium, and Växjö, Sweden (2018); Cornellà de Llobregat, Spain, and Horst aan de Maas, the Netherlands (2019); Limerick, Ireland and Mechelen, Belgium (2020); Grabovo, Bulgaria and Lappeenranta, Finland (2021) and Winterswijk, The Netherlands and Valongo, Portugal (2022).

Background to the European Green Capital Award

The European Green Capital Award is the result of an initiative taken by 15 European cities (Tallinn, Helsinki, Riga, Vilnius, Berlin, Warsaw, Madrid, Ljubljana, Prague, Vienna, Kiel, Kotka, Dartford, Tartu & Glasgow) and the Association of Estonian cities on 15 May 2006 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Their green vision was translated into a joint Memorandum of Understanding establishing an award to recognise cities that are leading the way with environmentally friendly urban living.

View the memorandum please click here. The initiative was launched by the European Commission in 2008.

It is important to reward cities which are making efforts to improve the urban environment and move towards healthier and sustainable living areas. Progress is its own reward, but the satisfaction involved in winning a prestigious European award spurs cities to invest in further efforts and boosts awareness within the city as well as in other cities. The award enables cities to inspire each other and share examples of good practices in situ.

The overarching message that the award scheme aims to communicate to the local level is that Europeans have a right to live in healthy urban areas. Cities should herefore strive to improve the quality of life of their citizens and reduce their impact on the global environment.

This message is brought together in the Award’s slogan “Green cities – fit for life”.

Annual Award Process

Starting in 2010, one European city is selected each year as the European Green Capital of the year. The award is given to a city that:

  • Has a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards;
  • Is committed to ongoing and ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development;
  • Can act as a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices to all other European cities.

The winning cities to date include: Stockholm in 2010, Hamburg in 2011, Vitoria-Gastiez in 2012, Nantes in 2013, Copenhagen in 2014, Bristol in 2015, Ljubljana in 2016, Essen in 2017, Nijmegen in 2018, Oslo in 2019, Lisbon in 2020, Lahti in 2021, Grenoble in 2022 and Tallinn in 2023. All are recognised for their consistent record of achieving high environmental standards and commitment to ambitious goals.

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Cities as Role Models

The award aims to provide an incentive for cities to inspire each other and share best practices, while at the same time engaging in friendly competition. In other words, the cities become role models for each other.

“Two-thirds of Europeans live in towns and cities. Their health and well-being depends on how well city authorities address environmental challenges. The European Green Capital and European Green Leaf Awards recognise these remarkable efforts of environmentally-friendly cities. I am delighted to see cities from across the EU coming forward to show their progress towards a greener future. The winners to date are role models and inspire other cities to make their urban spaces sustainable and ultimately more enjoyable places in which to live, work and play.”

EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius.

This short video examines the benefits of being a European Green Capital. So don’t miss out! Get your city involved to be the next European Green Capital.

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