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News announcement9 October 2020Directorate-General for Environment4 min read

Grenoble, Gabrovo and Lappeenranta win prestigious European green city awards

The French city of Grenoble is the winner of the European Commission’s European Green Capital Award 2022. The title of European Green Leaf 2021 is shared by Gabrovo (Bulgaria) and Lappeenranta (Finland).

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius announced the winners last night at the official awards ceremony broadcast live from Lisbon, Portugal – the current European Green Capital.

Announcing the winners, Commissioner Sinkevičius said: The winners and finalists of the green city awards have proven to be resilient and shown that, even in the most difficult circumstances like this year’s, rapid changes are possible. These success stories also show that sustainability and green transition provide solutions to cope with sudden crises and create better and healthier urban areas for EU citizens. As we continue to adapt to a new normal, our award winning cities will continue to play a leading role in implementing green solutions and creating cities that are fit for life.”

In addition to the responsibilities of winning the title, Grenoble will receive a €350,000 financial incentive from the European Commission to kick-start its European Green Capital year. The winners of the European Green Leaf 2021 title will each receive €75,000. A total of 36 cities competed for these prestigious awards – the highest ever number in the competition’s 13-year history.

The Jury was most impressed by the European Green Capital 2022 winner, Grenoble, for its pioneering approach to climate management that includes a strong commitment to systemic change and an innovative participative democracy approach to city governance. Grenoble’s ambitious plans for its European Green Capital Year impressed the Jury for how it will reach cities and citizens across Europe to inspire solutions.

Most notably, the city achieved top ranking in the areas of climate change mitigation, sustainable urban mobility, sustainable land use, noise and energy performance. With a terrain that limits urban sprawl, the city has no choice but to rely on urban regeneration and rehabilitation, efficient public transport and quality public spaces to renew itself.

  • Strongly committed to climate change mitigation and improving energy performance, Grenoble was the first French local authority to adopt a Climate Plan, in 2005. The city reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 2005 to 2016 and is working towards a 50% reduction by 2030.
  • Grenoble addresses noise pollution with designated quiet areas in the city, promoting cycling and reducing speed limits in the city.
  • Grenoble’s eco-neighbourhoods have won national awards and the city takes an innovative approach to maximising its limited green space, by encouraging private gardens to open, vertical greening, and an ambitious tree planting programme. 
  • The city has achieved impressive cycling rates through incentives, reimbursements and pedestrianisation.

The European Green Leaf 2021 winners Gabrovo and Lappeenranta stood out to the International Jury for their approach to environmental management, as well as their communications and engagement, that positions them as ideal role models to inspire other cities.

Gabrovo (Bulgaria)

Gabrovo was commended for its commitment to energy efficiency and clean technology implementation over the past decade. This has resulted in initiatives with citizen involvement, focused on the provision of sustainable transport and maintenance of green areas. Gabrovo has a wide variety of natural habitats and species and has ongoing measures in place to protect and conserve these biodiversity assets.

Lappeenranta (Finland)

Lappeenranta was recognised for its commitment to developing into a model green city and ranked highly in all the award indicators. The city is home to the world-class research and innovation university which contributes to the city in areas such as clean energy research, sustainability, circular economy and water technology. Guided by the Lappeenranta 2033 Strategy, it was the world’s first city to start solely using EKOenergy certified renewable electricity.

The European Green Capital 2022 winner Grenoble, and finalists Dijon, Tallinn and Turin, have each earned a place in the European Green Capital Network to share best practices and motivate other cities. Similarly, the other European Green Leaf 2021 finalists, the Danish cities of Elsinore, Nyborg and Ringkøbing-Skjern will join Gabrovo and Lappeenranta and previous winners and finalists in the European Green Leaf Network.



With more than two thirds of Europe’s population living in urban areas, the European Green Capital and European Green Leaf Awards aim to recognise the environmental achievements of cities and towns that strive for urban sustainability and eco-innovation, and inspire others to take positive action in making their cities fit for life.


The European Green Capital Award is presented to a city with more than 100 000 inhabitants that is at the forefront of sustainable urban living. Each year, a panel of independent urban sustainability experts assesses the performance of the competing cities against 12 environmental indicators and selects finalists to present to an international Jury.


Twelve other cities have won the European Green Capital Award to date: Stockholm (2010), Hamburg (2011), Vitoria-Gasteiz (2012), Nantes (2013), Copenhagen (2014), Bristol (2015), Ljubljana (2016), Essen (2017), Nijmegen (2018), Oslo (2019), Lisbon (2020) and Lahti (2021).


Following the success of the European Green Capital Award, the European Green Leaf Award was established in 2015 to recognise the environmental efforts and achievements of smaller towns and cities with 20 000 to 99 999 inhabitants. The same panel of 12 experts assesses the applications received based on six environmental topic areas and selects the finalists.


Nine other cities have won a European Green Leaf Award so far: Mollèt del Valles, Spain and Torres Vedras, Portugal (2015); Galway, Ireland (2017); Leuven, Belgium, and Växjö, Sweden (2018); Cornellà de Llobregat, Spain, and Horst aan de Maas, the Netherlands (2019); and Limerick, Ireland and Mechelen, Belgium (2020).


Publication date
9 October 2020
Directorate-General for Environment

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