Tallinn wins European Green Capital 2023 award

Cyclist by Tallinn's Old Town.
Cyclist by Tallinn's Old Town. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The European Commission has awarded Tallinn the European Green Capital award 2023. The Estonian capital beat 16 other cities to the title.

Tallinn competed against Helsingborg in Sweden, Krakow in Poland and Sofia, Bulgaria in the competition's final.

The jury announced the winner on Thursday and highlighted the capital's holistic approach, free public transport, brownfield site conversion and green ambassadorship.

One initiative is the new "Pollinator Highway" park which has converted almost 13 kilometers of unused space to urban meadows to encourage butterflies, bumblebees and honeybees and create more green space for residents. The highway runs from the city center to Stroomi Beach. Bike lanes will be added in the future and there are plans to extend the tramline through the park.

The European Commission said in a statement: "Tallinn impressed the international Jury with their systemic approach to green governance and  interlinked strategic goals, which reflect the ambitions of the European Green Deal."

Tallinn's four core plans were:

  • improving the energy efficiency and indoor climate of buildings,
  • reducing carbon emissions including by incentivizing people to travel by car less often,
  • preserving and increasing biological diversity in the city,
  • creating a circular economy.

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said: "For us, a green capital means that Tallinn is inviting, comfortable, and clean - a city of the future."

The city will receive €600,000 to spend improving waste, water, air quality, noise, biodiversity and soil.

Tallinn previously ran for the title in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022 and has been a finalist in the last two rounds. Last year's award was presented to Grenoble, France.

This year, Estonia's capital competed against Sofia (Bulgaria), Logrono (Spain), Zagreb (Croatia), Dublin (Ireland), Cagliari (Islands of Sardinia, Italy), Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Rzeszow (Poland), Skopje (North Macedonia), Helsingborg (Sweden), Belgrade (Serbia), Košice (Slovakia), Gaziantep and Izmir (Turkey).

More information about Tallinn's Green Capital bid can be read on Tallinn City Council's website.

Tallinn receiving the award on September 9, 2021. Source: Tallinn City Council.

What is the European Green Capital?

The European Green Capital title recognizes the efforts of cities to preserve and improve an environment that supports both the living environment and the economy.

The title is awarded to a city, with a population of more than 100,000 people, which has the ability to act as a role model in the field of sustainable urban development and citizen communication.

The aim is to improve the urban environment in European cities, to promote and recognize the efforts that cities are making to improve the environment and the quality of life.

The competition is judged on 12 qualities: air quality, noise, waste, water, nature and biodiversity, sustainable land use and soil, green growth and eco-innovation, climate change in mitigation, climate change in adaptation, sustainable urban mobility, energy performance and governance

Previous winners have been: Stockholm, Sweden (2010), Hamburg, Germany (2011), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2012), Nantes, France (2013), Copenhagen, Denmark (2014), Brisol, UK (2015), Ljubljana, Slovenia (2016), Essen, Germany (2017), Nijmegen, The Netherlands (2018), Oslo, Norway (2019), Lisbon (2020) and Lahti, Finland (2021).


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Editor: Helen Wright

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