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European Green Capital Award for 2016 to Ljubljana with a bitter taste

European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, presented at an official event in Copenhagen the winner of the “European Green Capital” for the year 2016. The prize went to Ljubljana, which beat 12 other major cities, such as Essen, Nijmegen, Oslo and Umea.

European Green Capital Award is awarded annually, its purpose is to promote and reward the effort of sites that try to improve the urban environment. The winner of the competition is a European city, which shows high environmental standards and is committed to sustainable and ambitious targets for environmental improvement and sustainable development.

The jury that awarded the prize, was convinced by Ljubljana due to the implementation of its sustainable development strategy (Vision 2025), which contains a program of environmental protection, sustainable mobility plan, sustainable energy action plan and the electromobility strategy. Ljubljana has also made significant progress in the field of green public procurement, which are used in 70% of all city purchases.

Special praise also goes to the organization of public transport, where in 2013 Ljubljana changed traffic arrangements that limited motorized traffic and give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. With the introduction of a system to rent bicycles (BicikeLJ) more than 1.6 million rentals were recorded from 2011, when the system was set up. Even future transportation plans in Ljubljana are promising. In 2012, the city has set itself a target to achieve by 2020 that aa third of the traffic be made by public transports, the second third with non-motorized traffic, and (only) one third by private vehicles.

Bad practices still exsist

Despite the fact that Ljubljana is the winner of a prestigious award, the residents of the city often complain about the plans of the Municipality to cut down the trees or&and build new buildings or extensions in the old city center. At the moment there is a campaign of civil initiative for the conservation of the park on Resljeva and Trubarjeva against the plan to cut down several decades old chestnut trees. The area has been changed into a building area by the adoption of the Municipal Spatial plan, which was adopted in 2010 by the City Council. The municipality has by changing the Spatial plan changed the purpose of this space and sold it to private investor, which is not in accordance with the decree, that the park is under protection as a natural monument. So the reward for the most green capital has a bitter aftertaste.

I.Z.

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