Ljubljana – European Green Capital 2016 presents itself in twin town Wiesbaden, Germany, with an exhibition Ljubljana – Today / Before, which presents selected projects carried out by the City of Ljubljana in less than a decade. Projects have fundamentally changed the image of the Slovenian capital. The exhibition is part of the vine festival Rheingauer Weinwoche and will be on display in Wiesbaden Town Hall until August 31. The twinning between Wiesbaden and Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, proclaimed in 1977, is comprised of economic, cultural and artistic collaborations, encounters among youth groups and athletes, as well as an exchange of professionals from various sectors of the communities. To honour these contributions and contributions with other 18 twinning cities from Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America, Wiesbaden's Lord Mayor Sven Gerich has declared 2016 the "Year of Twinning".
In the Year of Twinning, Ljubljana presents itself in Wiesbaden with a variety of wines from the vinery Sveti Martin at the Rheingauer Weinwoche and the accompanying exhibition about the significant transformation, Ljubljana has been awarded for as ‘European Green Capital 2016’ by the European Commission. According to the Jury, Ljubljana is the city that made the biggest change in the field of sustainability in the shortest period of time.
Since 2007, when we introduced the Vision Ljubljana 2025, we have successfully implemented more than 1,700 projects that are in line with it. This transformation has been achieved in areas including local transport and the pedestrianizing of the city centre, where we established ecological zone by closing it to motorized vehicles and opening it to pedestrians and cyclists. We completely transformed the main artery in the centre with altered traffic regime and with creation of shared space dedicated only to pedestrians, cyclist and public transport. Now, on the main artery, there are no private motorized vehicles, and the refurbished city walkway is lined with young ash trees attracting butterﬂies and bees. After introducing an altered traffic regime, the black carbon concentrations in this area have decreased by 70% in comparison with the urban background location.
The city has become revitalised with new energy; it has become not only an ecological zone, that today covers more than 100 000 m2, but it is a big living room for diverse social, cultural, sporting and other events where people meet and enjoy.
Besides, the renovated banks of river Ljubljanica in the city centre we built new bridges to shorten the distances. In 2012 for the project Refurbishment of the Banks and Bridges of the River Ljubljanica we were awarded the “European Prize for Urban Public Space”. Ljubljana was chosen among 347 projects from 36 countries as an example of linking green spaces with urban rehabilitation.
According to the jury, Ljubljana successfully combines two things: we are protecting and preserving the recognizable green identity of the city and actively transforming areas that not too long ago were not green or environmentally sustainable.
We have a large share of green surfaces. Almost 3/4 of the city’s surface is covered with green areas. There are four nature parks in Ljubljana. Among them the Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park - Natura 2000 areas represent more than 16% of the city’s surface. The park is also listed in the Unesco World Heritage List. We declared more than 1200 acres of special-purpose forest. Forests cover 46% of the entire area of Ljubljana and reach right into the city centre. 20% of Ljubljana’s area has a nature protection status. We also revitalised a large number of degraded areas and brownfields and created 80 acres of new parks. We are also very proud of the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship - the longest tree-lined city avenue with more than 7,000 trees along 34 kilometres. All residents access public green areas within 300 m of their homes.
Furthermore, we are continuing to offer sustainable mobility options to our residents and visitors, such as building »park and ride« parking facilities, greening our public transport bus fleet and prolonging the travel routes into neighbouring municipalities, expanding the network of the bike-sharing system BicikeLJ and encouraging electrical mobility.
Ljubljana is the capital that has already exceeded the EU's recycling targets for 2020 by 10%. With 65% of separately collected waste in 2015, we rank the first in Europe. We are also the first European capital to be part of the Zero Waste Europe network.
The main water source for Ljubljana and its outskirts is groundwater from two different ecosystems: Ljubljana Marsh and Ljubljansko Field. Water is of outstanding quality, and there is no need for technical treatment. This proves that the city’s development has been closely tied up to sustainable measures for the protection of water sources.
The city also carries out a number of actions, campaigns and events to encourage its residents towards more green lifestyles. It has become a yearly tradition to conduct a month-long spring cleaning campaign For a More Beautiful Ljubljana as well as the Sustainable Energy Week and the twice-awarded European Mobility Week. We decided that every member of our so-called ‘large city family’, which comprises 12,089 colleagues in the city administration along with public companies and institutions, should plant their own tree. Tree planting campaign has been launched last year and has been completed this year.
We are very proud and honoured to be the seventh European city that won the prestigious title of European Green Capital. This year, Ljubljana has a diverse programme with a broad spectrum of participants – from representatives of district communities to environmental, cultural and educational institutions and numerous non-governmental organisations. Practically every day the information office of the European Green Capital 2016 »Point.For You.«, located in front of the City Hall, is organising interesting thematic programmes, workshops, presentations, social events, and other engaging and educational activities. In this way we address and encourage residents and visitors to make Ljubljana even more green, clean, hospitable and friendly.
By accepting the award and preparing numerous activities within its scope we are underscoring the need for solidarity, especially towards future generations, so they inherit well-preserved nature that we have in Ljubljana.
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