Green and glorious: European Capitals of Biodiversity 2011 lead the way towards 2020 targets

A representative of Puebla de Sanabria receives the "Capital town sign" from the hands of Commissioner Janez Potočnik
Mayor of Kremnica discussing their strategies at the panel discussion
Mayor of Szentes with Commissioner Janez Potočnik
Representative of Hannover explaining their involvement of the citizens
Mayor of Montpellier explaining their mulitannual action plan

Montpellier (France), Hannover (Germany), Szentes (Hungary), Kremnica (Slovakia) and Puebla de Sanabria (Spain) honored as “European Capitals of Biodiversity 2011”

Five European municipalities were crowned with the title “European Capital of Biodiversity 2011” in an award ceremony in Brussels on November 24th. Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for the Environment, handed over the certificates to the winners. In his speech he pointed out the importance of municipalities for reaching the EU 2020 biodiversity targets: “We have to get European villages, towns and cities on board to be key actors for biodiversity management on the local level. Moreover they are the key players in bringing the message of the importance of biodiversity on our doorstep across to their citizens”. Isabelle Durant, vice-president of the European Parliament, emphasized the relevance of a rich urban biodiversity in a video message: “Safeguarding nature in the middle of our cities is a key factor for a lasting quality of life and requires citizens and politicians to work together, especially in the light of the diverse economical challenges cities are facing today.”

The event was held in the framework of ICLEI’s series of “Breakfast at Sustainability’s” (B@S) meetings and was hosted by the Liaison Office of the European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino in Brussels.

The five winners

From France, the city of Montpellier was honoured for its multiannual action plan 2010-2014 for biodiversity. Furthermore the city with a population of 257,000 inhabitants has joined the Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity and is one of the leading city protagonists in this network. The German city of Hannover won for its comprehensive strategic approach to biodiversity protection that specifically includes making their 520,000 citizens enthusiastic about their local nature. In Hungary, the city of Szentes (29,400 inhabitants) won the competition for its significant achievements in water management of the Kurca River and in the preservation of native species of the agricultural landscape. The Slovak winner, the city of Kremnica with a population of 5,400, has is a host to one of the most important international environmental film festivals “Envirofilm” that has been implemented since 1995 and attracts film makers from all over the world. Puebla de Sanabria, municipality of 1,600 inhabitants, came out on top in Spain for its excellent planning regulations that ensure it grows in both a systematic and sustainable way. José Luis Santiago, environmental technician of the village highlighted the economic importance of biodiversity: “We are a little village and for us biodiversity is the engine for our economic development”.

More about the winners – the final project brochure

Read more about the winning cities of the 2010 and 2011 competitions in the final project brochure, which is available as pdf in the DOWNLOAD section of this website.