Two weeks ago, I had the great pleasure visit the great green US cities of Seattle and Portland. During this study visit I made few remarks that I want to share with you.
First of all, it is always a true pleasure to be representing Stockholm and Sweden abroad. Besides from being famous for ABBA, IKEA and Volvo, more and more often I realize that Stockholm has received world recognition for our Eco District Hammarby Seafront. This city development project emphasizes Stockholm’s general approach to cut emissions and combine it with cutting edge solutions that provide quality of life for our citizens. Environmental concern is not an obstacle for economic growth. We consider it as prerequisite.
Stockholm has a long reputation for environmental achievements and one of the strongest recognitions of our work came last year when Stockholm was appointed first European Green Capital by the European Commission. Apart from the great honor, the prize gave us a mission; to tell our story and exchange ideas with other cities. We are thrilled to highlight our efforts but also open to present the lessons we learnt from mistakes and failures. These parameters are key elements in speeding up the process for the greening of cities.
While in Seattle and Portland, me and my delegation were offered a wide range of study tours and meetings where we got the opportunity to get inspired by all the efforts these cities are doing for sustainability. It struck me that although we act in very different contexts, the major challenges we face are similar. I particularly found it interesting to learn more about these cities’ high ambitions for collecting food waste, their efforts to stimulate biking and how far they have reached in the introduction of electric cars. Our cities have also in common that we are very determined to leave the fossil fuel era behind in the coming decades. Stockholm has decided to become fossil fuel free by 2050.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our hosts for their great hospitality and all the inspiration they so generously shared with us. I would also like to explain my gratitude to the City of Seattle for the appointment “Distinguished Citizen”.
My final remark is that the transformation of cities into sustainability does not necessarily imply rocket science, it’s about enabling attractive smart solutions for a modern urban lifestyle. I truly believe that is in reach for every city that clearly put their minds to it and is open for inspiration from other cities. There can never be too many best practices. In our strive in Stockholm to accomplish our vision to become a World Class City by 2030, we are definitely better off with a little help from our friends.
Mr. Per Ankersjö
Vice Mayor for Urban Environment
City of Stockholm
Photo: Mr Richard Conlin, Council President, City of Seattle handling over the Distinguished Citizen Medal to Mr Ankersjö.