The annual meeting of the European Green City Initiatives took place in Barcelona on October 1 st, 2015. For six years now, the coordination has been with the Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA), whose autumn board meeting took place simultaneously. The representatives of the initiatives from six European countries presented their work: France, Italy, The Netherlands, Hungary. Spain and Germany. Furthermore, the representatives of the associations from Switzerland, Austria and Bulgaria reported on activities regarding green urban development.
All presentations and discussions have shown that the municipalities in Europe are facing similar problems: As a consequence of the shortening of budget and saving of man power on the one hand and increasing expectations of the general public and the local economy on the other hand new concepts for the green in cities are in demand. All initiatives have developed packages of individual measures to address the public, politicians and administration to underline the importance and the value of green in the urban environment. The argumentation deals with the accomplishment of green areas with regard to the urban climatology with effects on the health and quality of life of the population; furthermore, it deals with water management, biodiversity and not at least with the effects of green areas on the economic situation of the cities.
Andreas Kipar, president of “Green City Italy”, summed up that on the basis of the Milan Charta, which had been agreed upon together with the European partners (2010) we have succeeded in presenting a focus on green urban development on the occasion of the Expo 2015 in Milan. Tamás Vincze presented the evaluation scheme for green areas developed by the Green City Hungary. This scheme is successfully being implemented in Hungary. He recommended the international colleagues to make use of these instruments and to fill in own data if necessary. Peter Menke of the foundation “DIE GRÜNE STADT“ reported on the “Green Book of Urban Green“ which was published for Germany under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of the Environment in June 2015 together with seven other federal ministries. In the resulting “White Book Process”, specific political, legal and economic improvements are meant to be laid down by spring of 2017.
The ELCA chairman, Emmanuel Mony, together with the European Green City Initiatives stressed the necessity of the European Commission formulating not only general targets for the pending European Urban Agenda regarding green infrastructure, but also the necessity of guaranteeing specific means for the support of research. Mony: “The Green City Concept has increasingly become a topic of the political agenda since our cooperation in the European Parliament in Strasbourg was founded in autumn 2009. The research workshop implemented by ELCA and the Green City Initiatives in Brussels in May 2011 clearly showed that science urgently needs the discourse with practice as well as an international exchange.” On the occasion of the “European Urban Green Congress” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of ELCA in Hamburg future-oriented examples for green urban development from various European countries were presented. Title of the congresses: “Strategies for the green city of the future“. However, on this occasion, too, the necessity of further research was proclaimed. On this basis the ELCA board decided to organize a second research workshop in Brussels in 2016, inviting once again not only scientists from all over Europe, but also representatives of the Green City Initiatives, members of the European Parliament and journalists.
All participants regarded the international exchange as a valuable input for the work of the Green City Initiatives in the countries. The common task mainly consists of the strengthening of the municipalities that need sufficient funding for the green tasks as well as of increased research regarding the green city. This is the only way to adequately safeguard green and free areas and to execute forward-looking planning.