Sustainability: it’s a rising issue on everyone’s minds and as a result people, businesses and even entire cities are more committed to going green than ever before. Discover just a few of the destinations successful in their pursuit of eco-friendliness.
Modest in size but still paving the way for urban sustainability, this picturesque city has an impressive collection of green accolades against its name. Appearing on the list of top 100 sustainable destinations in the world three times already, Slovenia itself, with special mention of Ljubljana, has also recently picked up the award for Best Sustainable Destination in Europe. Led by mayor Zoran Jankovoci, a handful of the city’s green initiatives include a car-free zone at the historical centre, the conservation and development of green spaces, and the installation of rubbish bins leading to underground recycling collection points.
Very rarely will you see any eco-friendly cities lists that don’t make mention of Amsterdam. Adored for its golden-age canals, history, culture and thriving nightlife, this is one creative hub forever in pursuit of sustainable change. Home to more bikes than people, Amsterdam has less pollution and a far healthier population than those with sedentary commuters. The city’s infrastructure also lends itself to environmental-friendliness; there are electric car re-charging stations, solar panels on house roofs, and trams and subways that run on green electricity.
Home to some of the world’s most striking natural landscapes, preservation of the other-wordly utopia that is Iceland is paramount. The capital city of Reykjavik–and the place of residence for almost half the country’s population–has adopted many projects dedicated to sustainability. It pioneered the use of geothermal power with most electricity and heating needs met by hydroelectric power and geothermal springs. Alongside a hydrogen bus system, sustainable food offerings, natural terrain and more, the city also plans to be carbon-neutral by 2040.
This charming capital of Denmark is equal parts stylish, safe and sustainable. Often hailed as being one of the most livable cities in the world, with a number of green initiatives in place it’s no surprise why. Surrounded by water and parks, the city boasts a plethora of green spaces and fresh air, and much like Amsterdam, more than 50% of the population use a bicycle for their daily commute. For eco-conscious travellers, rest-assured knowing there’s plenty of organic eateries, plus 71% of the city’s hotel rooms hold an official eco-certification.
San Francisco, United States
One of the more eco-conscious and clean cities in America, San Francisco sets the standard for urban environmentalism. Tackling issues like air quality, biodiversity, transportation, waste, food and agriculture, local residents are active in their pursuit of environmental mindfulness. It plans to become a zero waste city by 2020, meaning discards are recycled or composted rather than heading to the landfill. And while California implemented a state law banning plastic bags in 2014, San Francisco was ahead of the curve making that same decision back in 2007. There’s no shortage of foodie hotspots rooted in philosophies of sustainability and for many hotels, the protection of the planet is at the heart of what they do.
Awash with verdant trees and towering mountains, Vancouver is green–literally and figuratively. In an effort to set an example for the rest of the world, an eco-conscious government implemented the Greenest City Action Plan: a strategy designed to keep the city at the forefront of urban sustainability, and ultimately the greenest city in the world by 2020. It focuses around ten goal areas, including climate and renewables, green buildings, clean water, local food, and clean air, with initiatives spanning everything from a bike-friendly infrastructure to energy-efficient building codes.
With an economy once dominated by coal, this seemingly unlikely candidate has shaken off its industrial past to become the European Green Capital 2017. Learning from past mistakes to transition into a more sustainable city, Essen today boasts an innovative water-management system, and performs well in measurable areas of climate change, air quality and energy. Once dull and grey, the city is now carpeted in open green spaces with the aim to have all residents be within 500m of some by 2020.