As an official symbol of the environmental challenges and the ecological crisis we are facing, on Saturday night the 24th January in Bristol, a tightrope walker riding a bike on a high wire launched the official start of the 2015 European Green Capital Award received by the city.
Following the French city of Nantes in 2013 and Copenhagen (Denmark) in 2014, this award was officialy launched in 2008 after the 2006 “Memorandum of Understanding’ in Estonia establishing an European award to recognise cities that are leading the way with environmentally friendly urban living. Each European city with over 100,000 inhabitants (or the largest city in the country) can apply. Then, applications are assessed by a panel of experts – who analyse 12 different environmental criteria – and shortlisted by a jury. The winning city received substantial financial support to organise a huge series of conferences, events and improvements to take a step further and create a greener city able to act as an ‘ecological leader’.
Video about European Green Capital
Video submitted by Bristol to enter the competition:
If you’ve never heard of Bristol before, this city is located in the South West of England and has a population of 441,300 (2011). It’s England’s sixth and the United Kingdom’s eighth most populous city, and the most sustainable city of the UK. During the ceremony (watch the video above), the jury said that they were impressed by the city’s transport and energy plans – an investment of 500m for transport and 300m for energy efficiency and renewable energies by 2020. On its website (http://bristolgreencapital.org/), Bristol Green Capital is described as a free participative movement aiming to improve green capacity in the city. It brings together a network of organisations to help in making Bristol a low-carbon city.
The communication plan for the Green Capital Award is simple: Bristol wants to become a participative green city and make sure that people and communities in each area can join organisations and be involved easily in all projects and conferences. To achieve this goal, the city has created action groups in fields such as food, transport, water, energy, new economy, that people can join. All you need do is send an email – a good way to be involved in the decision-making process instead of simply recycling. You can also create your own event. At the top of it, 2015 has started with conferences and events in each area of Bristol. Going forward, each community can be involved and raise awareness of the environmental improvements and issues of the city.
Nevertheless, it is easy to realise that you need to pay to access many upcoming events, and some are really expensive for most people (sometimes up to £165). This immediately creates a gap between the collaborative spirit promoted and the real accessibility to the events.
At a time when the European Union has postponed its ecological responsibilities from 2020 to 2030 (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/2030/index_en.htm), while George Ferguson is describing the green award as “a platform from which we can create so many new projects in Bristol, so yes obviously we had to reach a certain level to win it, but that level is way below the proper requirements of a green city, and this, is I think what we need to achieve by the end of 2015”, Bristol Green Capital will be a determining marker.
What are the challenges of being a Green capital nowadays ? We will try in these series of reports and articles to give you a picture that reflects the reality of these Green Capital events and conferences, trying to analyze the relevance of the environmental decisions which will be taken, or not.
For further information about events: http://bristolgreencapital.org/events/
Camille Felouzis and Florian Cornu
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