The award recognises the environmental efforts of European cities to inspire positive change and leadership in the transformation to a more sustainable future. The other finalists in the competition were Lille and Strasbourg in France.
“The European Green Capital 2021 title brings a lot of responsibility to be a strong role model for cities across Europe, as we all work together to preserve and restore our planet and tackle climate change,” said Karmenu Vella, commissioner for environment, fisheries and maritime affairs at the European Commission.
Lahti was chosen as the capital by a unanimous decision by the international jury, which congratulated the city’s efforts in the fields of air quality, governance, waste management, green growth and eco-innovation. The jury was especially impressed with Lahti’s air quality plan, which has led to a considerable drop in emissions since its adoption in 1997.
“Lahti has the environmental credibility and passion to embrace that responsibility and be an inspiring international leader,” added Vella.
The ceremony also saw Ireland’s Limerick and Belgium’s Mechelen pick up the European Green Leaf Award for 2020. The 75 000-euro award is a recognition of the cities’ potential to act as green ambassadors for smaller cities. The Finnish city of Lappeenranta made it into the finals.