European Green Capital 2016 – Ljubljana’s Cinderella story

Ten years ago, the streets in Ljubljana compact core were clogged with traffic, with little room for pedestrians and a negative effect on the quality of air. In 2016, the European Commission has named Ljubljana European Green Capital. How is this even possible?

The answer lies in Vision 2025, a long-range plan to improve the quality of life developed by Zoran Janković, Ljubljana’s mayor since 2006. The plan sets plenty of ambitious goals on sustainability and environment protection, that influenced every decision made by Ljubljana policymakers.

The most impactful (and effective) decision was by far the one made in 2006 to ban cars from the city centre: only pedestrians, bikes and buses are allowed, and there’s an electric taxi service that offers free rides to elderly and disabled. This led to quieter and safer spaces for pedestrians, a much better air quality, and an increase in business and tourism in the historic centre.

Since its small dimensions, Ljubljana is a contained laboratory to fine tune this kind of policies. The successful experiment conducted in Ljubljana has given good ideas to other European cities: Oslo, Madrid and Brussels have recently announced plans to partly close their city centres to traffic.

Ljubljana’s efforts also aim towards other goals: the city recycles almost two-thirds of its waste, and is the first EU capital to implement a “zero waste” strategy, promoting innovation to increase sustainability of the waste collection system and encouraging people to produce less waste.Cityscape of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana at sunset.


The city’s green spaces are also getting a fresh look, thanks to the bottom-up efforts of civic groups and associations. For example, the associations Bunker Institute and Prostorož began regenerating Tabor Park by hosting cultural festivals, flea markets and concerts, and thus drawing many people to use this green space near Ljubljana centre.

Alenka Korenjak, one of the founders of Prostorož, says: “The success of these initiatives demonstrates that investments of millions of euros are not the only way to promote urban regeneration”.


In che modo la città di Lubiana è passata in soli dieci anni da maglia nera per inquinamento e traffico a capitale verde europea? Un sindaco volenteroso ed una serie di ambiziosi progetti su sostenibilità e protezione ambientale.