Currently more than 70% of the world’s population live in urban areas, placing demands on infrastructure services to sustain human and economic activity for the future.
As the Institution of Civil Engineers celebrates 200 years in existence it has published "Cities of the Future" – a Special Edition in November 2018 to show how much its members have contributed to shaping our shared future and in making our cities liveable as they continue to grow. RPS was invited to write a technical paper in Cities of the Future: "European cities continue to grow greener" based on our work for European Green Capital (EGC) Award as RPS has managed the EU Secretariat for the project since 2010 in technical and communication terms.
The paper describes notable civil engineering features of four cities in Europe that recently received the EGC Award – Copenhagen (Denmark), Essen (Germany), Nijmegan (Netherlands) and Oslo (Norway). All four have set a remarkable standard of environmental, sustainable and smart-city living through a combination of technical innovation and active engagement with its citizens. Urban areas of all sizes can be engines of the economy, which boost growth, create employment for citizens and enhance competiveness. At the same time, urban areas are also the source of many of the current environmental challenges ranging from traffic congestion, air quality, stress in water resources to issues of waste management and climate change impacts.
Green cities have a particular focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation, public transport, sustainable land use, quality and use of water resources, waste management as part of the circular economy together with energy management of buildings and infrastructure. The inherent quality of green cities depends greatly on resilient infrastructure such as reliable water supplies, transport systems and energy efficiencies particularly in extreme weather conditions.
Since 2008, a total of 86 cities have applied from a total of 26 countries in Europe (see map above) and to date there have been 11 winners of the badge for sustainable urban living – Stockholm (2010), Hamburg (2011), Vitoria-Gasteiz (2012), Nantes (2013), Copenhagen (2014), Bristol (2015), Ljubljana (2016), Essen (2017), Nijmegan (2018) Oslo (2019) and Lisbon most recently who will be European Green Capital in 2020.