FIRST IN FINLAND: THE EUROPEAN GREEN CAPITAL
Lahti is inaugurated as the 2021 European Green Capital by unanimous decision of the international jury.
Lahti’s story of sustainability is closely linked to the development of Finland. During the twentieth century, Lahti grew faster than any other city and became known as the ‘City of Carpenters’ due to its famous timber furniture trade. Eventually this era of rapid growth and urbanisation took its toll on Lake Vesijärvi, which became one of the most polluted lakes in Finland by 1975. The economic depression in the 1990s hit the industrial town hard, and some of its effects can still be seen in the city. Lahti has however endured and thrived through times of turmoil. The city’s environmental conservation journey began in the 1970s with the restoration of Lake Vesijärvi. Today, Lahti’s story continues towards a carbon neutral future.
What is the European Green Capital Award?
The EGCA is a competition held by the European Commission in which cities are assessed based on different environmental indicators* by an international jury. The 2021 finalists were Lahti, Lille and Strasbourg. Lahti performed strongly across all environmental indicators, such as air quality, waste, green growth and eco-innovation as well as governance. In particular, Lahti impressed the jury members by understanding the urgency of the global climate crisis.
“Lahti demonstrated a strong commitment to being a role model and an ambassador across the globe. Lahti’s innovative and informal approach to successful citizen engagement has increased citizen wellbeing and happiness”, states the EGCA Jury of 2021.
The European Green Capitals have an important role in inspiring and motivating other cities. Now, Lahti is a source of inspiration and the city offers scalable environmental solutions that have a global impact. Next year Grenoble will hold the title as the 13th European Green Capital.
Lahti is known for enduring change
Strong climate action over the past years, active citizen participation, green strategies, and investments in the circular economy have made Lahti a city with a sustainable future. Lahti invests close to €20 million annually towards various environmental solutions, such as water protection and energy efficiency, and that has not changed even during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lahti began its green capital year in the middle of a global pandemic. Especially in times like this, we need people who have the will, and drive, to step forward and tackle hard issues during challenging times of change. No one knows this better than a city that has faced its toughest challenges head-on by making decisions to promote a sustainable future. In this, the people of Lahti have a lot to be proud of.
*Indicators: air quality; noise; waste; water; nature and biodiversity; sustainable land use and soil; green growth and eco-innovation; climate change mitigation; climate change adaptation; sustainable urban mobility; energy performance; governance.