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Applications open for the 2026 European Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards

79 days ago

3 minutes

The European Commission recently launched the application portal for cities to submit their case for winning the European Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards. The awards exist to recognise the achievements of European cities and towns in the quest for a more sustainable urban environment. Efforts might include actions that reduce negative impact on the local and global environment, or those that enhance mobility infrastructure and improve quality of life.

The award includes a financial prize for winning cities, and means that cities will join the likes of Tallinn, Valencia and Vilnius under the united banner of commitment to a more just, sustainable future for all.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius expanded on the concept behind the awards:

“Our EU Green Deal work becomes a reality through greener cities that take up the right initiatives. And there is a chance to shine and get rewarded for that effort. It’s our European Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards. I am calling on our European cities to pick up the challenge and apply for the 2026 titles. This is an opportunity not only to win the prestigious title, but also to share great stories and actions with other cities, inspiring one another in the process.”

How to apply

Cities and towns interested in nominating themselves for the award should register via the EU survey. This will ensure that all relevant information and the application form is received in advance.

Application deadline: 30 April 2024

Selection criteria for entrants cover seven environmental indicators: air quality, water, biodiversity, green areas & sustainable land use, waste and circular economy, noise, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. The city must also show a consistent record of achieving these environmental standards, along with a commitment to further environmental progress.

Alignment with and performance of these indicators will be reviewed by a panel of sustainability experts, who will make recommendations to the Commission, who will then select the city finalists. Finalist cities will be invited to present additional information on their sustainability governance and strategy to a jury panel, and the winners will be selected around October 2024.

More information on the selection criteria and process can be found here.

About

The European Commission established the European Green Capital award in 2008. The first city to win the award was Stockholm, for the year 2010. It was launched to recognize the important role that local authorities play in furthering environmental causes and enhancing the quality of life for residents of European cities. As more of the European population lives in urban areas, the need for social, environmental, and economic transformation becomes increasingly important.

Since the onset of the award, 16 cities have been awarded the European Green Capital Award: Vilnius (2025), Valencia (2024), Tallinn (2023), Grenoble (2022), Lahti (2021), Lisbon (2020), Oslo (2019), Nijmegen (2018), Essen (2017), Ljubljana (2016), Bristol (2015), Copenhagen (2014), Nantes (2013), Vitoria-Gasteiz (2012), Hamburg (2011) and Stockholm (2010).

17 smaller cities have won the European Green Leaf Award: Treviso, Italy and Viladecans from Spain (2025), Elsinore in Denmark and Velenje from Slovenia (2024), Winterswijk in The Netherlands and Valongo, Portugal (2022), Grabovo, Bulgaria and Lappeenranta, Finland (2021), Limerick, Ireland and Mechelen, Belgium (2020); Cornellà de Llobregat, Spain, and Horst aan de Maas, the Netherlands (2019); Leuven, Belgium, and Växjö, Sweden (2018); Galway, Ireland (2017) and Mollèt del Valles, Spain and Torres Vedras, Portugal (2015).

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