Monday, May 30, 2016 — The historic signing of the Pact of Amsterdam, during Green Week 2016, will put local stakeholders at the heart of urban policy. It will lead to better investment into key areas of the Urban Agenda for the EU like the circular economy, sustainable use of land and nature-based solutions, climate adaption, the energy transition, air quality and urban mobility.
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said:
“Europe's urban areas are home to over two thirds of the EU population, they account for about 80 % of energy use and generate up to 85 % of GDP. They are the places where people, money, trade and industry are concentrated, and where the potential for sustainable growth is greatest. With the signing of the Amsterdam Pact, the Urban Agenda of the EU can drive investment into key areas to create green jobs and make our cities a better place to live.”
Investments in green solutions will come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) where EUR 15 billion has been allocated for sustainable urban development up to 2020. The overall amount of investments going into cities is much larger, with an estimated 50 % of the ERDF, around EUR 80-90 billion. Promoting sustainable transport and innovative solutions is also a key area of Horizon 2020 where EUR 6.3 billion is available.
A big part of the Urban Agenda for the EU will be energy. Currently, Europe’s urban areas account for about 80 % of energy use, but the majority of which comes from fossil fuels. To achieve the binding target of 30 % reduced energy use in buildings by 2030, the Urban Agenda for the EU will help advance the Energy Union by implementing investment in power grids, renewable energy and energy efficiency, especially for buildings. This will drive down energy costs for citizens and businesses as well as create new jobs in green sectors.
Investing in greener cities also means investing in the public’s wellbeing. Parks, green roofs or ecological sound barriers are examples of measures that not only improve health thanks to cleaner air, but also provide better public recreation spaces.
Ljubljana, 2016’s European Green Capital, has shown what’s possible by pedestrianizing their city centre, establishing protected green areas and having a zero waste objective. Mollet del Vallès and the Portuguese city of Torres Vedras were the winners of this year’s European Green Leaf partly thanks to their mobility strategies.
More cities can follow in the footsteps of Ljubljana, Mollet del Vallès and Torres Vedras, but they need the right investment. The Urban Agenda for the EU will provide a framework that all the actors can use to accelerate cities' transition to a cleaner, healthier and more economically viable future.
All about the European Green Capital Award
The European Committee of the Regions and the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union