Europe is becoming increasingly urbanised, as more and more Europeans live and work in cities, towns and suburbs. The quality of life in urban areas depends a lot on the quality of the local environment. For example, it depends on the quality of the air and water, access to nature and biodiversity, levels of noise pollution, and increasingly, the ability to keep cool as temperatures rise.
Cities are where most resources are consumed and where many environmental challenges are found. At the same time, cities offer opportunities to tackle environmental issues, with people living and working closer together, managing and sharing resources efficiently using the principles of the circular economy, reducing the need for private motorised transport, and living in more energy efficient buildings.
The EU recognises that cities play a crucial role in achieving the aims of the European Green Deal, to deliver a low carbon, resource-efficient, sustainable and resilient society. The Commission funds a wide range of projects and initiatives that focus on air, water, noise, preserving and restoring green spaces, improving waste management and enhancing the circular economy. EU cities, and their local governments, are therefore essential partners in implementing laws, policies and programmes on pollution.
In the EU
To protect human health and the environment, the EU’s urban policy aims to improve the quality of life in cities through environmental laws on air and water and waste, protecting nature and biodiversity, and ensuring that citizens are not exposed to excessive noise.
Initiatives like the Green City Accord and the Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards encourage cities to address environmental challenges and showcase their environmental performance.
Tools and instruments
European Green Capital Award
This annual award recognises and rewards local efforts to improve the environment in big cities.
European Green Leaf Award
This annual award recognises and rewards local efforts to improve the environment in small cities.
Green City Accord
The movement of European mayors aiming to make cities greener, cleaner and healthier.
Urban Greening Platform
Supporting towns and cities in restoring nature and biodiversity
Related topics:Air, Noise, Water, Waste and recycling, Sustainable urban development
Related strategies:Biodiversity strategy for 2030, Circular economy action plan, Environmental Action Programme (8EAP), Smart and sustainable mobility strategy,Zero pollution action plan
Related Commission priorities:European Green Deal
For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.