Next year, Oslo will become an even greener city. The Norwegian capital will spearhead the development toward sustainability and environmentalism among the big European cities.
Creating cities that take the significant global environmental risks seriously while enhancing the quality of life for its citizens, is a challenging task – but far from impossible. And some cities work harder than others.
The European Green Capital is awarded by the European Commision, and the highly regarded title has been announced annually since 2010. The first year, Stockholm received the honor, with Copenhagen following in 2014.
Next year, Norway finally gets to join its Scandinavian neighbors among the greenest cities of Europe.
Oslo landed the title in fierce competition with 13 other cities, among them Lisbon in Portugal, Lahti in Finland and Tallinn in Estonia. That makes this distinction even more prestigious, according to Marianne Alfsen, head of communications at Oslo European Green Capital 2019.
"The fact that the title is not appointed, but earned – unlike the European Capitals of Culture – makes the taste of it even sweeter," Alfsen says to Visit Norway.
The jury highlights the coordinated efforts of Oslo’s city planning, with climate and environmentalism as red thread through all of the city’s politics, from public health to integration.
"The award is an acknowledgement of what Oslo has achieved as a city. The candidates were appraised in areas such as climate politics, the quality of air and water, green innovation, collective transport, biological diversity and outdoor life. Oslo was ranked highest in eight out of twelve categories," Alfsen says.
With this award, Oslo commits to working even harder for a sustainable life for its inhabitants and visitors. But the capital already stands out globally in number of specific areas, Marianne Alfsen points out.
"Oslo is already the world’s most electrically powered capital. There are no major cities where there are more electric cars roaming the streets, the population considered. The home care units are using electric bikes, and next year, 70 new electric buses will be added to the city’s public transportation."
She also highlights the city’s unusual proximity to nature.
"Few capitals have a primary forest in the city the way we have Svartdalen. And did you know that you find the country’s most diverse biology in Oslo? The citizens’ love for the surrounding woods, fjords, islands, parks and rivers has enabled Oslo to maintain world-class environmental values."
Just how the green year will be implemented is still in its planning stages, Marianne Alfsen says.
"Right now we’re laying the pieces in the puzzle, which will contain everything from academic conferences to activities for everybody. We’ve invited the city’s businesses and organizations to become our partners and contribute with activities in the official program."
On a broader level, the role as green capital is about inspiring and cooperating with the other big European cities.
"In 2019 we’ll step up as a role model for other cities. We’ll share our experiences and solutions for how to create viable cities. We’ll highlight people and communities creating a better urban life through their efforts and creativity. And we’ll invite the rest of Europe to figure out how to proceed into the future," Alfsen says, adding:
"And we’ll celebrate ourselves. Throughout 2019 we’ll color the city green and provide Oslo’s residents and visitors with festivity. In short, we’ll make sure that Oslo’s population, businesses, organizations and academic circles continue to move along toward a society without emissions."
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