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Glasgow declared a Global Green City

By Roshika Perera

The award comes a year before the city is set to host COP26.

Glasgow has been declared a Global Green City by the Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS) at their Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Awards Ceremony 2020. This year’s award was shared with Changshan in the Zhejiang Province of China. The annual awards ceremony has been running for 15 years and has been hosted by countries across the globe. In light of Covid-19 restrictions, the ceremony took place online on 16 October. 

With support from the United Nations Environment Program, the awards recognise the progress made by cities and communities in implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and GFHS’s own mission of building sustainable cities and human settlements. In 2015, the UN set out a list of 17 interlinked SDGs to be achieved by 2030 including no poverty, affordable and clean energy, and sustainable ties and communities. 

Glasgow was awarded the title for having scored highly on a wide range of criteria including transportation, the economy, and low carbon and energy efficiency. Writing in The Glasgow Times, Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council stated that the award was not a “mere plaudit”, but “can lead to investment, jobs, the staging of major events and the financial boost these bring”.

Upon accepting the award, Aitken announced: “It has been wonderful to receive this award on behalf of Glasgow. Achieving the status of a Global Green City is an acknowledgement of the tremendous strides made by the city in overcoming the legacy of our past and building a better environment for our future.

In line with the SDGs set out by the UN, Aitken went on to state: “Glasgow is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and the city is joining together across a broad partnership to meet the challenges faced by the climate emergency. Our citizens must be at the very heart of our drive towards carbon neutrality. It is essential that our transition to carbon neutrality is just and sustainable for all the people of Glasgow, especially as we seek to recover from the Covid crisis.’’ 

However, Glasgow City Council released a Climate Emergency Implementation Plan earlier this month, warning that more needs to be done for the 2030 target to be met. The report set out 52 actions that would help the city reach its target, covering key issues such as improving recycling and developing the city’s green economy. The plan has been put forward for consultation and sits within the UK and Scottish Parliament’s wider initiatives to push for a green economic recovery. 

In her speech, Aitken also noted that “with COP26 just over a year away, there could have been no better time for Glasgow to be recognised as a Global Green City”. COP26 will be the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, an event held annually to discuss global solutions to tackle climate change. With over 30,000 delegates including heads of state due to attend, the event will garner international attention for the city. 

The UK will host the conference for the first time. Glasgow has been chosen as the host city due its ranking as fourth in the world and highest in the UK in the Global Destination Sustainability Index as well as its green spaces, river, and city serving as inspiration to act on the climate crisis. 


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