In the city of Lahti, 100 kilometers from Helsinki, in Finland, the 120,000 inhabitants have large urban green areas less than 300 meters from their homes, they go to work on foot or by bike and 97% of household waste is recovered. To the north of the city is the majestic Vesijärvi lake, once seriously polluted, and which now looks healthy and is a source of recreation, leisure and biodiversity in the region.
Lahti also stands out for its strong commitment to conserving the surrounding natural environment in the highest environmental standards, its intermediate objective is to reduce 50% of emissions by 2025 based on 1990 levels to be carbon neutral by 2040, and it aims to achieve a waste-free circular economy by 2050 .
The Finnish city had been a finalist in the last two editions, demonstrating their effort for entering this select group and the difficulty involved in being the emblematic city of sustainable urban development. The greatest achievements that led the jury to choose Lahti as the European Green Capital are the following:
- Recovering the environmental quality of Lake Vesijärvi, which was heavily polluted by industrial emissions
- Recovery of 97% of household waste.
- Green transition from heavy industry that has been replaced by green technology and circular economy businesses, coming to account for 8% of all jobs in Lahti.
- Zero Carbon City, despite the fact that it is a Nordic city with a cold climate and without its own energy sources.
- They have the bus fleet with the lowest emissions in Finland
The achievements that have been achieved in the city come from a long commitment of the different rulers and by the citizens and companies. Below you can see the main milestones that have helped this Finnish city to obtain the highest environmental recognition for a European city.
What elements are valued when awarding a Green Capital?
The European Green Capital rewards European cities that have developed initiatives and innovative urban environmental management. The Green Capitals are those that lead the commitment to sustainable urban development, reaching high standards in environmental and sustainability parameters through pioneering governance and strategic planning models.
- The overall city commitment, vision and enthusiasm conveyed through the presentation.
- The city’s ability to act as a role model, inspire other cities, promote best practice and raise awareness of the EGCA model.
The city’s communication strategy and actions, which must address:
- Communication and citizen participation to date in relation to the 12 environmental indicators, effectiveness through changes in citizen behavior, lessons learned and proposed modifications for the future.
- The scope of the city association (local, regional and national) to obtain maximum social and economic leverage.
- How they intend to fulfill their role as EU ambassador, inspiring other cities.