The winners of the European Green Capital and Leaf 2024 Awards were announced at a ceremony in Grenoble, France, this year’s European Green Capital. The Spanish city of Valencia will become the European Green Capital for 2024 and the title of European Green Leaf 2024 went jointly to Elsinore in Denmark and the Slovenian city of Velenje.
“I would like to warmly congratulate Valencia, Elsinore and Velenje and welcome them to the European Green City club,” said Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius. “These cities are working hard to build a healthier and greener environment for their residents and are an inspiration to others. They show that the ambition of the European Green Deal to build resilient societies is the only way forward. Cities are at the forefront of this transition and with the progress made so far, I truly believe that we can build a greener and fairer Europe for all.”
In particular, the Slovenian city of Velenje is working to phase out coal while opening up new employment opportunities in the green job sectors. Their motto is from black to green & bright.
Indeed, Velenje was one of the first cities in Slovenia to install a separate waste collection system and has been improving waste management ever since. The city is eager to share its experiences on the transformation from a coal mining to a climate-neutral city. In order to support these efforts, Velenje will receive a financial prize of 200,000 euros.
Earlier in May, the city was also selected to participate in the EU Mission for 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030. This Mission will receive 360 million euros of Horizon Europe funding covering the period 2022-23, to start the innovation paths towards climate neutrality by 2030. The research and innovation actions will address clean mobility, energy efficiency and green urban planning and offer the possibility to build joint initiatives and ramp up collaborations in synergies with other EU programmes.
This Award comes also at a timely moment, as on 26 October the European Commission proposed stronger rules on ambient air, surface and groundwater pollutants and on treating urban wastewater. These proposals are part of the EU’s zero pollution ambition and will steer the EU towards key 2030 targets to reduce pollution at source. All cities can play their part in implementing key legislation, contribute to a resilient recovery and boost the transition to a clean, circular and climate-neutral economy.