This represents a major success for Tallinn and an even greater success for cities all over Europe: The European Commission has awarded the Estonian capital the status “European Green Capital for 2023”. The city has thus been officially admitted to the ranks of European’s green capitals. This title honors Tallinn for its far-reaching efforts to reduce its carbon emissions, restore biodiversity, promote green innovation and encourage a sustainable management approach.
The award includes a check with a value of 600,000 euros: the city intends to use this money for its sustainability plan and to achieve improvements in the areas of waste, water, air quality, noise, biodiversity and soil.
The idea for the prize originated in Tallinn in 2006 – through a campaign supported by figures including the former mayor of the city, Jüri Ratas. The European Commission has recognized a city on the continent as the “European Green Capital” every year since 2010. Tallinn has taken over for this year from 2022’s winner, the French city of Grenoble.
Smart-City Technologies Promote a Green Work Environment
For many years now, Estonia’s capital has being making progress with a raft of different campaigns supporting the causes of green technologies and biodiversity. Ülemiste City is one such example of this. This is a forward-looking urban environment for young people. Around 14,000 of them from over 73 countries are working, studying and living here. The roughly 500 companies based in Ülemiste City deliberately utilize smart-city technologies in order to create a knowledge-based work and living environment.
For Mihhail Kõlvart, the mayor of Tallinn, the award represents success not just for his city alone: “I firmly believe that the European Green Capitals must play a leading role in establishing sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities of the future, in order to ensure a high-quality living environment as the key to balanced and sustainable economic and social development.” This is a strong statement which we very much agree with!
Carbon Reduction as an Aspect of Urban Transformation
In their work with cities, industrial enterprises and municipal utilities, our experienced team of consultants actively seek to demonstrate the direct link between the smart city issue and sustainability. There is a reciprocal relationship between the two since, according to the UN’s sustainable development goals, a smart city combines environmentally responsible management with prosperity (economic growth) and social fairness. All three of these areas must be given equal consideration in order to achieve a sustainable urban transformation.
Carbon emissions reductions are naturally a key factor from the point of view of the environmental component. In our view, it is extremely important for all of the stakeholders in an urban environment to have a clear idea of the volume of carbon emissions which they cause: Only if all of these urban stakeholders understand the reasons for their emissions will they be able to take suitable action in order to minimize them.
"The targeted reduction of carbon emissions is a cornerstone of the process of urban transformation. At the same time, however, there is a need to implement measures to achieve a fairer society and promote a city’s status as an economic hub. If all three of these aspects are given equal consideration, then a city will already have taken great strides forward towards smart city status,” says our colleague Dr. Lucia Wright, who adds: “Examples such as Tallinn impressively demonstrate how much we can actually achieve in terms of bringing down carbon emissions, if only the will is there. It is tremendous, and it really spurs us on in our daily work."