European Green Capital? That’s quite a claim. Anyone who steps onto the visitor platform of the Ruhr Museum in Essen will at least see that in this region the award is rather fitting. You can see all the way to the neighbouring cities from up here, over old industrial plants and new residential developments. And in-between is a great deal of green. More than 54 percent of Essen’s surface area is not developed; the city in the Ruhr district is the third greenest in Germany.
It wasn’t always the case, however. Beneath visitors’ feet on the viewing platform used to be the “coal washing plant” of the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex – once the largest coal mine in the world and today aUNESCO WORLD HERITAGE Site. It was in this building that the mined coal was sorted according to quality and separated from unusable stone. Elsewhere in the city the winding towers of many more coal mine were creaking and groaning at the same time and smoke rose from numerous stacks: For a long time Essen was visibly marked by coal and steel. A green capital – here?
“We are giving people back the river”
Hardly anyone is more passionate about this cause than Simone Raskob. “Essen as European Green Capital – this is not a garden show, but an urban planning vision”, says the head of the city’s Environment Department and quickly starts talking about two projects that are particularly close to her heart. For in addition to green, the colour blue also played an important role in Essen’s successful application for the award, an initiative of theEUROPEAN COMMISSION. “We are giving people back the river”, says Raskob, and means the Emscher. Industrialization made the Emscher a wastewater canal – with the consequence that no-one wanted to get near its banks. Today it is being returned to a natural state for hundreds of millions of euros; the wastewater runs through subterranean pipes. And in the neighbouring Ruhr River, the “artery” of the Ruhr region, the water quality is now so high that soon people will be able to use it for swimming again.
Of course, more was needed to become European Green Capital – after Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes, Copenhagen, Bristol and Ljubljana. Such as comprehensive concepts for air quality, energy efficiency, waste management and so on. Transport is also a key topic. Here Raskob refers to the old railway tracks that are currently being converted into cycle paths. One such path under construction is the “Radschnellweg Ruhr S 1”, which will run some 100 kilometres through several cities in the Ruhr district.
Please read the interesting article “Green Cities” in our blog.
Source. Deutschland de
2017 EGCA (European Green Capital Award) Shortlist
The German city of Essen has won the European Green Capital Award for 2017. The award was presented by Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, at a ceremony this afternoon in Bristol, UK, which currently holds the title. Essen was singled out for its exemplary practices in protecting and enhancing nature and biodiversity and efforts to reduce water consumption. Essen participates in a variety of networks and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to improve the city’s resilience in the face of climate change.
Commissioner Vella said: “It gives me great pleasure to present Essen with the European Green Capital Award for 2017. Essen has used the lessons from its industrial past to build an environmentally sound future. They have applied the principle of working with nature and reaped spectacular results. We have a great deal to learn from Essen’s green infrastructure and indeed from its ambitious plans for the future. I look forward to the events that will mark its year as the 2017 European Green Capital.”
Essen, together with all the previous European Green Capital winners, will act as a role model for other cities aspiring to improve their environmental performance, encouraging them to develop and apply innovative solutions as they progress towards sustainability targets.
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