Before that, at the beginning of October, the finalists will have to present themselves to a panel of judges to showcase their sustainability vision and governance and communication strategy for the year in which they will, if they win, hold the title. The winning city will receive €600,000 to implement its strategy and encourage citizens and stakeholders to play an active role in the sustainable development of urban centres. The financial support and the award of the European Green Capital title aim to reward the achievements of Europe’s most sustainable cities, following an assessment based on seven indicators: air quality, water quality, biodiversity and sustainable land use, waste and circular economy, noise pollution, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.
Path to sustainability is “a collective endeavour”.
Domingos Bragança, Mayor of Guimarães, recalls that the path of environmental sustainability began in 2013: “It was the great challenge we have embraced to date – protecting biodiversity, proposing an economy based on the principles of ecology, increasing green areas, cleaning rivers, improving water and air quality, investing in smoother and decarbonised mobility and in territories and communities with a consistent ecological awareness. And all this with development, with companies, with culture, with schools, with parish councils”. The mayor congratulates the recognition given to a “collective, innovative, well-explained work”, reinforcing the need to continue this path and to show “that Guimarães is an inspiring city for the action of cities in environmental policies”.
“Guimarães is a city that thinks, that focuses and that creates the conditions for the realisation of its objectives” – these are the words of Adelina Pinto, president of the Landscape Laboratory, vice-president of the Municipality of Guimarães and the Councillor responsible for the candidacy for European Green Capital. “The creation of the Landscape Laboratory, in 2014, a space dedicated to the Environment, which combines research, education and intervention in the territory, allowed an innovative path, based on research, an educational path, based on PEGADAS and environmental education and a path of direct intervention in the territory, together with associations, parish councils, Green Brigades and companies”, she says. She also emphasises “the role of this joint work – to which partner institutions, municipal technicians and experts contributed – in creating the ecosystem for effective change in the territory”.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, emphasises: “With most Europeans living in urban areas, cities are essential to tackle a triple crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.” The Commissioner also takes the opportunity to congratulate the finalist cities, describing them as “pioneers and proof that it is possible to be sustainable and offer a higher quality of life, generating space for biodiversity and building resilience in the face of the effects of climate change”.
It is recalled that the recognition comes after, in 2017, Guimarães reached the fifth place in the dispute for the title. Over the past few years, the municipality has strengthened its commitment to projects that promote the sustainable development of the city and contribute to improving the quality of life of residents. This year’s application, coordinated by the Landscape Laboratory, highlights the importance of an integrative and multidisciplinary governance model – Governance Ecosystem 2030 – based on a commitment to climate neutrality, environmental education and awareness and the preservation of biodiversity. In case of victory, Guimarães would become the second Portuguese city awarded, after Lisbon received the title in 2020.