The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has recently published an article on ‘Environmental Sustainability of European Cities’ [pdf 935kB] written by RPS. For five years RPS has managed the European Green Capital Award (EGCA), the European Commission’s flagship urban sustainability project. In 2015 this role expanded to include smaller towns and cities through the inaugural European Green Leaf (EGL) initiative which RPS has also managed. Through these flagship initiatives the European Commission strives to grow an environmental sustainability culture across Europe in line with the 7th Environmental Action Programme (7th EAP). The EGCA is open to cities with over 100,000 inhabitants and EGL is open to cities with a population between 20,000-100,000.
RPS has been Secretariat to DG Environment since 2010 and has provided extensive support and innovation in creating and developing these urban initiatives. An in-house multidisciplinary team approach has been used to provide this service using technical environmental and communication skills. RPS has delivered the challenging process associated with selecting the winning cities each year and communicating the award to stakeholders across Europe. This also included appointing and managing a panel of international experts across the 12 environmental indicators and 6 environmental categories for the European Green Capital Award and European Green Leaf competition respectively. RPS has been highly commended by the European Commission for the management of the initiatives.
Today two thirds of Europeans live in urban areas; by 2050 four out of five Europeans will live in towns or cities. Sustainable development, and in particular sustainable urban living, will become ever more challenging over the next ten years as urban densities rise further. Europe is evolving into a primarily urban society and cities, by their nature, attract a range of environmental challenges that can be overcome using civil engineering solutions. In addition to this, sustainable urban living will be greatly assisted by the future digital age within which engineers and scientists will play a pivotal role in creating innovative new solutions. Urban areas exhibit the greatest stress on sustainable urban living measured through environmental indicators like traffic congestion, noise, climate change effects, issues of biodiversity, water consumption, wastewater treatment, waste generation, energy efficiency, eco-innovation and sustainable employment.