Romania's Bistrița could be Europe's Green Leaf City of 2024
If Bistrița wins, it will be granted a prize of EUR 200,000.
The Awards reward the efforts of European cities that are making strides on the path to sustainability and striving to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants in the process.
Each year, environmentally friendly cities in Europe are given awards based on their efforts to improve their ecological footprint.
"To tackle the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, we need to act fast not only globally, but also locally," says Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius. "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."
The winners are chosen as follows: a panel of independent urban sustainability experts assesses the performance of the competing cities against 6-12 environmental indicators. Based on their assessments, the European Commission then selects the finalists. Finally, a jury selects the winners: The European Green Capital Award for cities with over 100,000 inhabitants, and the European Green Leaf Award for cities with 20,000 to 100,000 inhabitants.
As a smaller city, Bistrița is one of three finalists in the Green Leaf Award category this year, alongside Elsinor in Denmark, and Velenje in Slovenia. It is not the first time that the Romanian city has made the list, as it was a “Green Leaf 2022” finalist as well.
According to the Commission, the awards are given to cities that have a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards, have ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development, and can act as role models to inspire other European cities.
The winning cities are awarded a financial prize and join the network of past winners, where they can contribute to and benefit from the collective knowledge.
Fourteen cities have won the European Green Capital Award to date: Stockholm, Sweden (2010); Hamburg, Germany (2011); Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2012); Nantes, France (2013); Copenhagen, Denmark (2014); Bristol, UK (2015); Ljubljana, Slovenia (2016); Essen, Germany (2017); Nijmegen, The Netherlands (2018); Oslo, Norway (2019); Lisbon, Portugal (2020); Lahti, Finland (2021); Grenoble, France (2022); and Tallinn, Estonia (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).
The Award encourages cities to commit to ambitious goals for environmental improvement. During the second stage of the competition, the finalists are invited to an international jury panel, chaired by the European Commission, to whom they must present their communication strategy along with an action plan on how they intend to fulfill their year as European Green Capital or European Green Leaf.
The winner of the Green Capital Award will receive EUR 600,000, and up to two cities will receive the aforementioned EUR 200,000 each, as Green Leaf winners.
The financial prize contributes to supporting the winning cities in implementing initiatives and measures to enhance their environmental performance and reach out to citizens during their winning year.
Other benefits that winners receive are positive media coverage, an increase in international profile, more emphasis on environmental projects through sponsorship, attendance at prestigious international events (such as the EU Green Week), and support in terms of event and communication management.
The winning cities will be announced on October 27 and the awards ceremony will take place in this year's Green Capital, Grenoble.