Friday, 16 December 2011

Sustainability Conference in Lisbon

On November 29th I was asked to represent the European Commission as Speaker at an Agenda 21 Sustainability Conference in Lisbon - 'Think Global Act Local'. This was in my role of Director of the EU Commission Secretariat for the European Green Capital City (EGCA) award (

Similar to the 'European City of Culture', the EU Commission initiative is to find a different European city each year based on  current high environmental performance, ambitious goals for the future and how the city can act as a role model for Sustainable Urban Living. Only capital cities of European states or cities with a population of 200,000 or over may enter.

The inaugural EU Green Capital of Europe was Stockholm in 2010 and Hamburg this year in 2011.  Both were chosen in the first round of the competition in 2008.

Pictured outside the conference were (left-right) Joao Seiras Professor 
of Social Science Lisbon, PJ Rudden Director of European Green Capital Secretariat,
Livia Tirone CEO Tirone Nunes Architects Lisbon, Paula Cabral Cascais City Architect (Conference Chair), Chantal Vanoeteren Urban Planner University of Brussels, Nora Brugemann Project Manager at Wuppertal Institute Germany and Mario Alves Transport Engineer at University of Lisbon
Yesterday at a ceremony in Brussels EU Commissioner Janez Potocnik handed over the title of the European Green Capital to the Spanish Basque city of Vitoria Gasteiz (pop 235,445) which is the 2012 Winner.

The competition is very dynamic as this year for the first time we add two economic criteria - eco- innovation/job creation and secondly energy efficiency in accordance with the Resource Efficiency pillar of the EU 2020 Strategy Roadmap to better integrate new enterprise with sustainable development in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty objectives. The other criteria or indicators for the EGCA are climate change, sustainable transport, water consumption, waste management, air quality, noise, wastewater treatment and overall environmental management systems.

The Lisbon Conference was in fact held in the beautiful town of Cascais about half and hours drive along the coast north of Lisbon. The conference was opened by the Portuguese Secretary of State for Environment Dr Pedro Afonso de Paulo. My speech detailed the objectives of the European Green Capital award scheme and how each detailed application from each city is assessed and analysed by a Panel of Evaluation Experts appointed by the Commission and drawn from the 27 Member States. The Speakers were a combination of engineers, architects, town planners and social scientists drawn from municipalities, business and academia.

Dublin entered the first round of the European Green Capital award in 2008 and scored 16th position out of a total of 35 cities who entered - well behind the shortlist of 8 cities from which Stockholm and Hamburg emerged. The other shortlisted cities were Amsterdam, Bristol, Copenhagen, Freiburg, Munster and Oslo. Dublin has however improved greatly in transport mobility and water conservation terms from its position in 2008 and may now re-enter the competition.

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