Ljubljana becomes greenest city in Europe
Ljubljana, 10 March - Ljubljana has formally turned into Europe's Green Capital 2016, the EU title it was awarded for its sustainable development over the past ten years. "Once white, today green," PM Miro Cerar said as he addressed a high-profile ceremony on Thursday evening.
The Slovenian capital celebrated the green title with a series of events culminating this evening with the ceremony at Stožice Arena which was attended by a number of eminent guests, including senior politicians and two European commissioners.
Cerar commended Ljubljana's leadership for managing to achieve that the capital can now proudly carry the title of Green Capital of Europe 2016.
"Until recently we were happy to call our capital white Ljubljana. Today when many cities are ever more polluted, Ljubljana is even cleaner and greener, so we are proudly referring to it as Europe's green capital."
The prime minister pointed to natural beauties of both Ljubljana and Slovenia, saying the country was the third most densely forested country in Europe, and one of the richest European countries in terms of rivers and biodiversity.
Natural riches provide for a high-quality living, at the same time offering numerous economic opportunities, stressed Cerar, pointing to a framework green economy programme the government adopted last year.
Cerar is proud that Ljubljana belongs to a group of cities which have a vision and are aware of the meaning of sustainable resource management.
"The improvements implemented in Ljubljana over the past years prove that environment measures are not just a cost, but boost the quality of living."
Similarly, European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc noted Ljubljana had been a leader in innovative projects, including in mobility.
She stressed that in order to secure sustainable development, a green city also needs to be a smart city, which is open to innovation.
As she extended her congratulations to the city, the Slovenian member of the European Commission stressed the the Green Capital title was not the goal but a milestone on the way towards creating conditions for quality living.
Her colleague in charge of the environment, Karmenu Vella, on the other hand said that only few Europeans could boast living in a green capital.
He believes that "future generations have the right to a healthy environment and we need to secure it".
Vella added Ljubljana was successful in implementing measures towards a healthier environment, listing the city's traffic regime, the quality of water and a zero-waste strategy.
He also said that Ljubljana should promote its good practices to inspire other cities to follow suit, with the Commission assisting it in its efforts.
Mayor Zoran Janković said that today he was proud because Ljubljana is green, clean, safe and kind, and grateful to Ljubljana residents, the city administration and the team working on the Green Capital project.
"We have received the highest possible honour," he said and added, using a football language, that "Ljubljana is this year's European champion".
He also repeated one of his favourite lines: "For me, Ljubljana is the most beautiful city in the world."
The ceremony, at which some 2,000 guests were invited, was broadcast by the public TV station and featured the presentation of various green projects carried out by Ljubljana.
Ljubljana assumed the green title from the UK's Bristol.