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News article23 January 2024European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency2 min read

European Commission Launches 2026 European Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards

Apply Now for the 2026 European Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards! The European Commission is seeking cities committed to sustainability. Winners receive financial prizes, join a leading network, and inspire others to follow their green path.

European Commission: Directorate-General for Environment

The European Commission has opened applications for the 2026 European Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards, encouraging cities dedicated to sustainability to participate. These awards acknowledge and reward European towns and cities striving to reduce their impact on both local and global environments while enhancing the quality of life for residents. 


Commissioner's Call to Action 

Our EU Green Deal work becomes a reality through greener cities that take up the right initiatives. And there is a chance to shine and get rewarded for that effort. It’s our European Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards. I am calling on our European cities to pick up the challenge and apply for the 2026 titles. This is an opportunity not only to win the prestigious title, but also to share great stories and actions with other cities, inspiring one another in the process.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries


Eligibility and Prizes 

The European Green Capital Award is open to cities with over 100,000 inhabitants, while smaller towns can apply for the European Green Leaf Award (available to those with more than 20,000 inhabitants). The winning European Green Capital receives a financial prize of €600,000, and up to two Green Leaf winners can receive €200,000 each. These financial incentives aim to support winning cities in implementing environmental initiatives and measures, with a focus on enhancing their environmental performance. Additionally, the prizes aid cities in engaging with citizens, especially during their winning year. 


Application Process and Deadline 

Cities interested in the contest can register through the EU survey to access relevant documents and the application form. The application deadline is set for 30 April 2024. An independent panel of urban sustainability experts will evaluate competing cities based on seven environmental indicators, including air quality, water, biodiversity, green areas, sustainable land use, waste and circular economy, noise, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. 


Selection Process and Background

The Commission will select finalist cities based on expert recommendations and factual background checks, with the announcement expected around June/July. Finalists will provide additional input on sustainable governance and communication strategy, and winners will be chosen by the jury around October. Sixteen cities have received this accolade to date, with 17 smaller cities earning the European Green Leaf Award. 



The European Green Capital and Green Leaf Awards present a unique opportunity for cities committed to sustainable practices to gain recognition, share best practices, and inspire others. With financial support, personalized feedback, and a collaborative network, these awards contribute to the broader goals of the European Green Deal and the transformation towards a more sustainable future. 

Apply here