Nijmegen will be the European Green Capital 2018
The old Dutch city has completely renewed itself in a few years, turning into a model whole Europe can look up to.
Ljubljiana, the European Green Capital 2016, has been the perfect location in which to announce and welcome its successor after Essen (Green Capital 2017): from Slovenia, we move to Germany and then on to the Netherlands, where Nijmegen is located. With its 168.000 inhabitants, Nijmegen is one of the oldest Dutch cities and it is a growing reality with an eye focused on innovation and sustainability.
It is not the first time Nijmegen gets close to this european award, but decisive moves forward have been made in the last years. Compared to 2008, Nijmegen citizens use around 15% less gas and electricity: a result that has been reached thanks to better insulated homes and the installation of more than 150.000 solar panels on roofs.
What impressed the jury the most has probably been the thick web of cycle superhighways, which covers up to 43 kilometers. Public transports have been improved too, through the adoption of green gas buses. Anyway, the title of Green Capital has been assigned through a more complex vision, based on 12 environmental key indicators: nature and biodiversity, environment air quality, waste production and management, Eco innovation and sustainable employment, energy performance and integrated environmental management.
Sustainability includes both nature and quality of life and sociality: all residential area are traffic safe, with a maximum car speed of 30 kilometer per hour. Sustainability is a key for a safer living, too: in order to prevent floods, an artery has been built in the middle of the city, by way of a four kilometer long secondary channel to an existing river crossing the city center.
Also, Nijmegen citizens have proved themselves involved as much as their administration, helping with virtuous behaviors to reach 68% recycling rate. Nijmegen can also count on innovative measures for reuse, prevent and raise awareness.
Great changes are followed by ambitious goals: Nijmegen aims to reach energy neutrality by 2040, facing in the meanwhile a continuous growth in its population, which is estimated to reach 180000 units by that time. The Dutch city seems determined in face this growth in the most sustainable way. Waalsprong is a brand new district which testify this commitment. Perfectly connected to the green landscape by which it is surrounded, the district has high energy performances thanks to waste incineration residual heat. Could this be soon a standardized model for the whole city and the rest of Europe?