Hamburg is the European Green Capital 2011

Germany's second largest city Hamburg is the European Green Capital of 2011, seeking green answers to metropolitan challenges and possessing innovative ideas on how to share experience and best practices.

The city of Hamburg, situated on the banks of the river Elbe, has a population of about 1.8 million and faces numerous metropolitan challenges. However the city combines comprehensive approaches, policy commitment and the necessary funding needed to resolve these challenges. On the whole, it has an integrated and participative planning strategy and a strong commitment towards a "green" vision.

Slogan for city of Hamburg Enlarge image (© / BSU Hamburg) The quality of local ambient air is very good, and there are well defined targets, excellent results, future plans and structured monitoring with respect to climate change.

These notable accomplishments and structures have earned the city much-deserved recognition through this award. The European Commission has long recognised the important role that local authorities play in improving the environment, and their high level of commitment to genuine progress. The European Green Capital Award was conceived as an initiative to promote and reward these efforts.

Upon accepting the award on behalf of the city, Ms. Anja Hajduk, Senator for Urban Development and Environment in Hamburg stated, “It is a great honour for Hamburg to be one of the first two cities to receive the European Green Capital Award. In our application, we have made it clear that business development and environmental protection go very well hand in hand."

Massive energy savings
Hamburg has set ambitious climate protection goals such as reducing its CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by the year 2050. CO2 emissions per person have been reduced by about 15 percent when compared to 1990, with annual energy savings of some 46,000 MWh, a major achievement for a big city.

Hafen City Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa) The Port of Hamburg on the river Elbe is Europe's second largest in terms of number of containers handled. With a growing number of containers entering and leaving the port, expansion is a continuously discussed issue.

However, geographical expansion into the surrounding area is, intentionally, just not pursued. Instead, the increasing need for greater capacity is met by making more efficient use of allocated land and by generating new areas through filling-up expendable harbour basins.

Excellent public transport
The city has also achieved high environmental standards and good performance levels in terms of cycling and public transport indicators. Almost all citizens have access to optimal public transport within 300 metres of their given location. There is also a systematic structure for green areas which allow citizens easy accessibility.

The City of Hamburg plans to launch a “train of ideas” whereby interested cities within the European Green Capital Award network ‘own’ a wagon and promote their respective green ideas, achievements and future plans. The train will then travel around Europe spreading experience and best practice in an innovative way.

The title of European Green Capital is awarded each year to a European city that has taken exceptional steps towards protecting the environment and making its development sustainable. The judges' decision is based on eleven environmental criteria, such as contribution to the fight against climate change and sewage treatment.

Four out of five Europeans now live in towns or cities. This means their quality of life is heavily dependant on the efforts of local authorities to improve the urban environment – for example by providing green spaces, having good waste management and improving public transport.

The aim of the Green Capital Award is to make winning cities role models for sustainable urban development.

© European Green Capital

Hamburg is the European Green Capital 2011