SUSTAINABILITY

IMAGE: David Mark

European Commission launched

Green City Accord

The European Commission has formally launched its new initiative: the Green City Accord. Mayors in the European Union are invited to join and to commit to higher ambition to make their cities cleaner, healthier and more resource-efficient by 2030.

 

January 6, 2021

The Green City Accord, a new environmental initiative to improve air and water quality, conserve and enhance nature and biodiversity, advance the circular economy, and reduce noise in cities was launched on 22 October 2020 by the European Commission during a high-level event at the European Week of Regions and Cities.

 

During the launch, mayors and other local political leaders representing Florence (Italy), Lille (France) and Freiburg (Germany), Seville (Spain) and Porto (Portugal) expressed their strong support for the Green City Accord. Other keynote speakers were Joanna Drake, Deputy Director-General and Claudia Fusco, Head of Unit both from the European Commission’s Environment Directorate-General. Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General of EUROCITIES moderated the session.

 

In addition to committing to higher ambitions, stepping up local action through the Green City Accord will also help accelerate the implementation of the EU’s environment legislation and support attaining the environmental ambitions of the European Green Deal. In turn, the European Commission will support cities by providing networking and funding opportunities and by facilitating closer communication between EU and local policy-makers.

 

During the launch event, Joanna Drake, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General for Environment, European Commission, mentioned that, “Local governments are essential partners in achieving sustainable urban development and key players in addressing pollution, in managing waste sustainably and in supporting the transition to a Circular Economy."

 

From the local perspective, Juan Espadas Cejas, Mayor of Seville and Chair of the Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy of the European Committee of the Regions remarked that "(Local governments) need to manage more resources, we need to do this in a more direct, effective and flexible way. We need to make our own decisions, alongside our governments and the European Union. That's why the Green City Accord is an important opportunity to have a more integrated approach. We can build stronger synergies between different areas.”

 

Similarly, Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence said that “EU legislation sets a high standard for protecting the environment – rightly so”, and invited his peers to take action, by saying: "as city leaders we can do a lot locally to pursue ambitious green policies. The EU cannot achieve its ambitious goals without mayors and cities.”

 

Audrey Linkenheld, Lille Métropole Vice President and Lille Deputy Mayor in charge of climate transition and energy, said: “This initiative will bring together, more than ever, mayors and leaders of local governments across Europe, not only around a common vision for the urban future by 2030, but also around common means to act.”

 

Filipe Araujo, Vice-Mayor in charge of environment and innovation of Porto, Portugal, welcomed the initiative’s focus on citizens and quality of life: “The Green City Accord is a very important initiative since it focuses on quality of life. I believe quality of life will be the biggest asset we will have in Europe in order to be very competitive in a global world.”

 

Martin Horn, Lord Mayor of Freiburg, Germany, highlighted: “The Accord brings together mayors across Europe around a common vision of cleaner, greener and healthier cities. It provides the opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other (…) I strongly welcome this new, important initiative. I hope that many cities will join and make the Green City Accord a driving force for greener cities – and thus for a greener Europe at large.”

 

 

The Green City Accord Vision for 2030

 

Cities will be attractive places to live in and will promote citizens’ health and well-being.

 

All citizens will breathe clean air, enjoy clean water, have access to parks and green spaces, and experience less environmental noise.

IMAGE: Unsplash / Ignacio Brosa

What is the Green City Accord?

 

The Green City Accord is a movement of European cities committed to safeguarding the environment. In signing the Green City Accord, city leaders agree to take further action to make their cities greener, cleaner and healthier places. In joining the Accord, mayors agree to taking further action to achieve the following goals by 2030:

 

  • Significant improvement in air quality in cities, moving closer to respecting the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guidelines, while ending exceedances of EU air quality standards as soon as possible.

  • Important progress in improving the quality of water bodies and the efficiency of water use.

  • Considerable progress in conserving and enhancing urban biodiversity, including through an increase in the extent and quality of green areas in cities, and by halting the loss of and restoring urban ecosystems.

  • Advance towards the circular economy by securing a significant improvement in the management of household municipal waste, an important reduction in waste generation and landfilling, and a substantial increase in re-use, repair and recycling.

  • Significant reduction in noise pollution, moving closer to the levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

 

EUROCITIES, ICLEI Europe and CEMR are supporting the European Commission in developing and implementing the Accord.

 

Why a Green City Accord?

 

Cities are key to Europe’s sustainable development. Today cities across the European Union are home to some 70% of the EU’s population, and face a host of environmental challenges that pose risks to the health and wellbeing of their citizens and visitors. Air pollution in many cities still exceeds EU standards. Rivers, lakes and coastal waters remain under significant pressure. Noise pollution is on the increase. Urban sprawl is affecting the availability of green spaces, while the generation of waste is having a big impact on the local environment.

 

Clean air and water, low noise levels, and access to nature are essential for people’s physical and mental well-being. The circular economy will help cities become more resource-efficient by turning waste into resources.

 

Cities are already taking steps to tackle these environmental challenges and demonstrating innovative solutions at local level. The Green City Accord aims to support cities’ efforts to deliver a better environment for their citizens.

 

The Green City Accord will also build coherence with other EU city initiatives and support the delivery of the European Green Deal and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 

The 7 benefits of joining the Green City Accord

 

  1. Acquire Europe-wide visibility in recognition of the city’s environmental actions and achievements.
  2. Contribute to shaping EU environment policy and become part of a community of like-minded cities driving the transition towards a clean and healthy Europe.
  3. Increase the city’s transparency, accountability and credibility vis-à-vis the local community.
  4. Gain access to information concerning EU funding opportunities.
  5. Participate in networking events, avail of capacity-building opportunities.
  6. Receive tailored guidance and support via a dedicated helpdesk.
  7. Benchmark achievements against progress in other cities.

 

 

 

 

Joining the Green City Accord step by step

 

This new European Commission initiative is open to any city1 located in the European Union. Other actors such as regional and national authorities, associations of cities and regions, civil society organisations, and academic institutions may join the initiative as Green City Accord Supporters.

 

Step 1: SIGN

 

Step 2: DEFINE

Within two years, the city establishes its ambitious targets in the five domains of the Green City Accord, and determines baseline levels reflecting the starting point in each domain;

 

Step 3: ACT

The city plans and implements policies and programmes in an integrated manner to achieve its targets by 2030;

 

Step 4: MONITOR AND REPORT

The city reports back on progress every three years through an easy-to-use online tool.

 

 

 

More information

 

To learn more about the Green City Accord, please visit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 In this initiative, the term ‘city’ refers to an urban area, such as a community, a town, or a city with an administrative unit governed by a city council or another form of democratically elected body.

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