The European Commission has presented the title of European Green Capital to Vitoria-Gasteiz for 2012 for its committment to making the city environmentally friendly and gaining international recognition.
The Commission handed over the title of European Green Capital from Hamburg to Vitoria-Gasteiz on 15 December. Those who took part in the ceremony, which was held in the European Parliament, included Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, President of the Committee of the Regions Mercedes Bresso, State Secretary for Environment, Ministry for Urban Development and Environment Holger Lange, and Vitoria-Gasteiz Mayor Javier Maroto Aranzabal.
The European Green Capital Award recognises and rewards cities that are at the forefront of environmentally-friendly urban living and which can act as role-models to inspire other cities. It focuses on inspiring cities to strive to overcome increasingly persistent environmental problems.
Potočnik said: “Hamburg has been an exemplary European Green Capital, especially impressive with its Green Train of Ideas tour spreading the important message about sustainable urban development across 18 European cities. I wish Vitoria-Gasteiz well in its endeavours during its year as European Green Capital 2012.I look forward to seeing and hearing about their initiatives throughout the year so that other European cities can learn from their example.”
Bresso added: "Citizens want Europe to bring concrete benefits to their daily life. The European Green Capitals are leading the way in this regard, with green public transport, energy efficient public buildings and many more examples of outstanding local projects often co-funded from the EU cohesion budget that go far beyond targets set by EU directives. Building on the achievements of Stockholm in 2010, Hamburg in 2011 and, we hope, Vitoria-Gasteiz in 2012, the CoR is ready to work together with the European Commission to establish a community that will allow the experience of the European Green Capitals to be more widely shared".
Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque country in northern Spain, has more than 10 million square metres of parks and green spaces, and its flagship Green Belt project has attracted international recognition. It is the third European city to gain the prestigious title of European Green Capital.