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News article20 December 2022Directorate-General for Environment

Utrecht advances ‘healthy urban living’ as part of the Green City Accord

Utrecht is currently celebrating its 900 year anniversary and, in honour of this milestone, has reaffirmed its commitment to providing a healthy, green space for residents to live and work in.

Utrecht central station
City of Utrecht

Utrecht is currently celebrating its 900 year anniversary and, in honour of this milestone, has reaffirmed its commitment to providing a healthy, green space for residents to live and work in. The Green City Accord – and its holistic approach to environmental management – stood out as a way to advance this priority:

“The City of Utrecht works on healthy urban living for everyone. The Green City Accord combines five different areas into one integrated plan. This will bring different ambitions together and make them more feasible. It combines, for instance, our ambitions on reducing noise not only near roads and housing areas but also to make our green areas more quiet,” 

says Deputy Mayor for Environment and Emission-free Transport Eva Oosters.

The Dutch city has worked diligently to conceptualise solutions that tackle different issues at the same time. For example, thanks to close collaboration between its health and noise departments, Utrecht has put a 63 dB limit for road traffic noise in place, which is 5 dB less than the national limit. To achieve this, the City improved cycling infrastructure, used noise absorbing pavements, reduced speed limits and created designated quiet areas. This has also led to a decrease in vehicle pollution.

Whether Utrecht is working to reduce air and noise pollution or improve sustainable mobility, for Deputy Mayor Oosters, the central thread running through all of its work is quality of life:

“We are building our city in a healthy way to make sure that our city will remain liveable and attractive for all our inhabitants. In our inner city we had a highway where once a canal ran. To make our inner city more liveable we changed the highway into a canal again. A lot of people, wild bees and butterflies are enjoying this beautiful area now. This is something we cherish.”

Utrecht’s commitment to a greener city has grown even stronger since it signed the Accord. According to the Deputy Mayor, the City will add 75 m2 of greenery for every household, meaning 40% of every neighbourhood will be green. Citizens can also apply for funding from the municipality to construct their very own green roofs and are welcome to plant facade gardens without requesting explicit permission from the City.

And the focus on nature and biodiversity doesn’t stop there:

“In the future we hope to develop a new city park (Moreelse Park) by reducing the number of parking spaces and turning them into lush gardens full of flowers and with a lot of shade to cool us during heatwaves,” 

reveals Oosters.

In addition to nature and biodiversity, and noise pollution, Utrecht has thought carefully about how to approach each of the Green City Accord’s five target areas to ensure maximum impact and to confront related challenges as noted by the Deputy Mayor:

“The City of Utrecht has challenges with all areas. By discussing all these topics in an integrated way we hope to combine ambitions and make the results a joint effort.”

Utrecht’s mobility plan is a joint effort . Oosters described the thought process for the strategy’s creation:

“What if every resident is able to find that everything he/she needs for daily use is accessible within 10 minutes?…That’s the way we want to build our city. We are convinced that if we are able to design Utrecht like that, the need for transportation is minimised and people are able to use our preferred modes of clean transport…Needing less space to move people also allows us to use the remaining space differently. It can become green public space, for example, where you can spend time alone or with others and where children can play.”

By joining the Green City Accord, Utrecht is strengthening its commitment to clean and healthy urban living for everyone, while fostering cross-cutting collaboration between departments to advance integrated environmental management.  

Details

Publication date
20 December 2022
Author
Directorate-General for Environment

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