2021: five European cities in the spotlight

These cities are making ingenious efforts to go green, be more innovative, and to make a difference to the lives of people who call them home and those who visit.

Rijeka and Galway together hold the title of European Capital of Culture. © European Union, 2020 Photographer Barry Cronin & Denis Lovrovic

European Capitals of Culture: Rijeka, Croatia & Galway, Ireland

The coastal cities of Galway and Rijeka are European Capitals of Culture 2020 (extended until April 2021). Galway is deeply linked with the Irish language and has a rich tradition in literature, the arts and music. At the same time, it is a modern, global city, a hub for medical devices and technology.

Rijeka, on Croatia’s Adriatic coast, is known for its bohemian atmosphere and abundance of festivals. Home to the largest port in the country, Rijeka is the first Croatian city to take on the mantle of European Capital of Culture.

European Green Capital: Lahti, Finland

Lahti is situated approximately 100 kilometres to the northeast of Helsinki, the capital of Finland on the southern bay of Lake Vesijärvi. ©City of Lahti

Green cities are happier and healthier places to live. The Finnish city of Lahti is a leader in this field.

It set out an air quality plan in 1997 and since then, there has been a drop in emissions. Almost all residents live close to urban green spaces and the city has a high-quality waste recovery and recycling system.

Lahti shows that a green transition is possible, affordable and socially inclusive.

Access City Award: Jönköping, Sweden

Creating a barrier-free Europe is about more than buildings and pavements. It is about commitment to change that enables people with disabilities to participate in society on an equal basis with others.

This city in the south of Sweden has continuously improved disabled access in both its new and older districts, working closely with disability groups. Jönköping also created a local award for organisations that work with users to improve accessibility.

This commitment to change has improved the quality of life and enables people with disabilities to participate in society on an equal basis.

European Youth Capital: Klaipėda, Lithuania

Klaipėda is Lithuania’s maritime gateway to the world and a centre for business, education, science, culture, health and sport.

Through the European Youth Capital 2021 title, Klaipėda seeks to create new opportunities for young people and encourages them to believe in themselves, to take the lead in shaping youth policy and to work together for the welfare of young people in the city and across the world.

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