Velenje received the European Green Leaf Award for small cities
The European Green Leaf Award is given every year to cities with a population between 20 and 99 thousand in recognition of outstanding efforts made for promoting a more sustainable living. The jury monitors not only finished projects but also those in progress, for which the €75,000 prize coming with the award represents a major support. This year two cities have received the award: Helsingørin Denmark, and Velenje in Slovenia. Helsingør has been performing outstandingly well in the current energy crisis, as its government has paid special attention to modernizing its buildings, and has redeveloped the city’s district heating. Velenje is the fifth largest city in Slovenia, once famous for its lignite mines, and for housing the headquarters of the Gorenje brand, which is widely recognized in the region. Despite its history as a mining town, the local government has made substantial efforts to remove charcoal from the city’s energy sources. Velenje was also the first Slovenian city to introduce municipal waste sorting, and the city also has a long history of creating green jobs.
The Green Leaf Awards have been announced together with the annual European Green Capital Award, which in 2024 will go to Valencia, which came in first before Sardinia’s Cagliari. Valencia is home to Turia, Europe’s largest urban park, while 97% of the city’s population also lives within 300-meter of some type of green space. The Spanish city has numerous ongoing projects to improve water and air quality, and also for creating a more sustainable food industry. The title comes with a €350,000 prize to be invested in additional green initiatives.