Lighter shades of green: potential governance implications of the European Green Capital Award

Authors: Natalie Gulsrud*, University of Copenhagen, Silvija Krajter Ostoić, Croatian Forest Research Institute, Rebecca L Rutt, University Copenhagen, Anton Stahl Olafsson, University of Copenhagen, Riikki Paloniemi, Finnish Environmental Institute, David Pearlmutter, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Bruno Marić, University of Sarajevo, Alan J Simson, Leeds Becket University, School of Art, Architecture and Design
Topics: Land Use, Natural Resources, Europe
Keywords: urban green infrastructure, environmental governance, urban forestry and urban greening, Europe
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Jefferson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper analyses the environmental governance consequences of the European Green Capital Award (EGCA). The EGCA is a green city branding scheme steered by the European Commission and is a policy tool used to govern urban green infrastructure (UGI) conceptualization, delivery, and management. The award, originally drafted by European mayors and local authorities, looks to encourage cities toward climate resilience by the horizontal sharing of environmental knowledge and applications at the city scale. The EGCA thus ranks, brands and celebrates select European cities for their environmental performance in establishing the indicators by which environmental success is determined, and by encouraging the ‘horizontal’ exchange of ‘best practices’ amongst cities. In this sense, the EU is assuming a major role in the development and delivery of UGI policy at the municipal level and the broader European urban sustainable development agenda. Yet, only limited critical attention has been paid to the EGCA and its role as a tool in generating notions of European urban sustainability, UGI, and environmental governance. We therefore examine what exactly is promoted in the award through an analysis of i) EGCA indicators, and ii) the interpretations of indicators by the winning cities. We then consider the power of the EGCA to build UGI norms in European cities. With this analysis, we aim to shed light on the overlapping and conflicting interpretations of urban greening as a result of the EGCA.

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