“When one arrives by plane, what one sees of Nantes, is a lot of green and blue.” It’s through these splashes of colour that the Director General of the Environment to the European Commission, Karl Falkenberg, yesterday discovered the City of Nantes, during the first visit to the actors within the City area who contributed to the election of Nantes Green Capital of Europe 2013.
After Stockholm in 2010, Hamburg in 2011 (with its train), Vitoria Gasteiz in 2012, Nantes is the first French city to win this European distinction.
Karl Falkenberg between Patrick Rimbert (Mayor of Nantes – right) and Fabrice Roussel (Mayor of La Chapelle-sur-Erdre – left)
Urban planning and sustainable transport – Major assets
During the selections, twelve environmental criteria were examined to evaluate the performance of the city candidatures for the title of European Green Capital. “Nantes was considered to be a city with very good ideas which Brussels wanted to know more about“, said the official. Compared to other city candidates, Nantes put forward some strong points around urban planning, controlled development, its public transport system and its four Natura 2000 areas, protected at a European scale, (12.9% of the territory).
Nantes was also the first French city to re-introduce tramways and since then it hasn’t stopped expanding its network of “sustainable transport” with the introduction of busways, the Navibus and its 400 miles of bicycle lanes … An ambitious public transport policy which has already led to reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.
A Cycle plan for 2014
Cycle displacements represent 3% of trips around the city area, but the ambition is to raise this figure to 15% by 2030. A 30% increase in cycling between 2010 and 2011 is encouraging. And an investment of 40 million euros is planned for the 2010-2014 cycle plan.
With this award, Nantes is also committed to convincing other European cities to gamble on controlled development as being the right choice environmentally and economically. “Some 82% of Europeans live in cities. The objective of the European Green Capital s not protected cities but cities where citizens can live and consume responsibly, taking into account environmental constraints“, recalled the diplomat.
Five years after the Green Capital event, in 2018, the European Commission will invite Nantes to present solutions found in terms of environmental preservation. Beyond this honorary title, the title of Green Capital also represents a commitment to future generations and the rest of Europe, an “investment in the future“.
More information on European Green Capital website.