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Europe's oasis

9 February Feb 2016 0840 09 February 2016
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Ljubljana used to be a city choked with traffic. Getting from one side of the river to another was difficult, and public transport was a commuter’s nightmare. In less than a decade the trend has been reversed, and now the Slovenian capital has been named as the 2016 European Green Capital.

Ljubljana's residents no longer breathe in smog on their way to work. The city is full of cyclists, the water requires no pre-treatment, and for every person there are 524m² of public green space. This year's European Green Capital is a testament to how, with enough will, negative environmental trends can be reversed in a short space of time.

The video speaks for itself:

Following the COP21 agreements late last year, public awareness of climate justice issues have heightened. The European Green Capital acts as ambassador for sustainable urban development, as well as a model of best practice for other European cities. The award highlights the benefits for cities pursuing green urban policies, that make cities more liveable, and attractive to tourism and investment.

With its extensive cycling routes, city buses running on natural gas, urban gardening projects, and universal access to clean water sources that don’t require pre-treatment, Ljubljana is a model of sustainable urban development.

Well-planned, intelligently designed cities that integrate sustainable use of surrounding and far-reaching ecosystems have the potential to improve the lives of half the planet’s people today, and 80% by 2030. Infrastructure choices that are made today with respect to building design, transportation, waste management, food systems, urban ecosystem management, energy, and water have critical implications for the future sustainability of cities across the world.


Worst offenders

Recent statistics published by the UN Environment Programme show that cities consume 75% of the world’s natural resources, 80% of the global energy supply, and produce approximately 75% of the global carbon emissions.

Europe is a predominantly urban society, with 2/3 of European citizens live in towns and cities. Some of the most polluted cities in Europe include Rome, Barcelona, and Brussels.

Ljubljana has exceeded the EU 2020 recycling targets by 10%

According to the European Commission, "many of the environmental challenges facing European society originate from urban areas but it is also these urban areas that bring together the commitment, determination and innovation needed to resolve them." Ljubljana is clear proof of this. It is the European city that has made the highest number of changes with regard to quality of life in the shortest time, and shows how with enough resolve we can tackle environmental issues and take better care of our planet.

Photo Credits: Flikr/Richd777

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