On Friday, the opening conference of the Tallinn European Green Capital Year on sustainable cities "Fantastic Creatures: Making European Cities Safe, Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable" took place. The opening remarks of the conference were given by the European Commissioner of Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, and the Mayor of Tallinn, Mihhail Kõlvart.
„European Green Capitals need to take leadership in creating sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities of the future in order to ensure high-quality living environment as a key to a blanced and sustainable economic and social development,“ said Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart. He added that the Tallinn Strategy 2035 and the Tallinn Climate Plan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are integrated into the activities of the Green Capital Year. "We want to make sustainable governance the guiding principle of the city of Tallinn," he said.
The European Commissioner of Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said Europe faces huge challenges to its sustainability on many fronts, from the air we breathe to the water we drink, the waste we create and the biodiversity we rely on. “We need an energy revolution, and we need a different kind of economy – less polluting, more circular, kinder to nature, and climate-neutral by the middle of the century,” he said and added: “No city has all the answers, but many cities have some of the answers, and being a green capital is all about sharing the solutions you’ve found.”
The keynote speaker, Chair of the Board for the EU Commissions Mission on Adaptation to Climate Change including societal change Connie Hedegaard talked about which obstacles must be urgently overcome to accelerate action. She added, that EU and national governments have set targets, so now we must concentrate on the hows.
At the conference, local government politicians and officials together with specialists discussed the challenges of designing inclusive and just cities, where opportunities are provided for everyone to participate in the society, and how to make European cities safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
In addition, what kind of coalitions are needed for sustainability transitions in cities, how can we involve citizens, organisations, and businesses in the city governance, what are the tools of co-creation and how can people and organisations make their voices heard.
The opening events of the European Green Capital, which will take place from Thursday to Saturday, will bring to Tallinn representatives of 57 cities and municipalities from more than 20 countries, including 8 mayors.