Green Leaf year is ending – Lappeenranta bolsters its efforts as a green pioneer

The press release is an excerpt from Mayor Kimmo Jarva’s speech at the ending ceremony of the Green Leaf year on 10 December 2021, with partners and participants from the year in attendance.

“When we won the 2021 Green Leaf Award in a competition organised by the EU Commission just over a year ago, Lappeenranta entered a new phase in its history. The City of Lappeenranta was chosen as one of the pioneering cities in Europe. The City of Lappeenranta received the award for its ambitious climate work, cooperation with companies and educational institutions to solve global sustainability challenges, environmental education in schools, and the restoration of water bodies. The city is also committed to taking action to slow down climate change and promote the circular economy. The Green Leaf title is followed by a year-long period during which cities work actively on their own themes.

Lappeenranta’s victory year has been a series of events, communication, and new actions. In cooperation with various actors, we have organised more than 70 events, built seven new or renewed nature sites, and carried out numerous individual measures, such as electric charging points for e-bikes, a participatory budgeting pilot, recycling bins for schools, and smart waste bins for the city centre. A Green Leaf art piece is also coming in 2022.

The coronavirus situation has been a major challenge, and overcoming it has required new solutions. Sometimes this has been successful, sometimes not. I would like to highlight a few great events throughout the year. In the summer, nature walks were organised for residents, which were very popular. The Green Leaf Picnic concert together with Lappeenrannan Energia managed to bring residents to the Fortress. The Future Energy Solutions conference brought 300 developers of the energy industry to Lappeenranta. The development of the Finnish lake district was discussed together at the Finnish Lakeland Forum, and great examples of the possibilities of the circular economy were heard at the UpCycle event. We also built a webinar for the EU Week of Regions event together with the City of Lahti, Växjö in Sweden and Grenoble in France. Finally, as a fine example of cooperation, I would like to mention the advent calendar implemented by the South Karelia children’s cultural centre Metku, which can be viewed every morning at 7 am on the City of Lappeenranta’s social media channels.

These and numerous other forms of cooperation make the city known to each of us, both Finns and Europeans.

It seems to me that we are only at the beginning of a new path. The cooperation gained during the year should be maintained, resolving climate and circular economy goals as well as strengthening biodiversity with even greater determination. Developing the network of the energy and environmental sectors and helping companies assess sustainability and carbon footprint bring vitality. “Sustainable Success Stories” is the goal of the Lappeenranta 2037 strategy. The themes of the Green Leaf year, solving sustainability challenges together with educational institutions, residents and companies, have recently been at the heart of Lappeenranta City Council’s strategy.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s activities. This has been a great experience for us and an amazing journey together. You have made this a true year of events. We should be proud of our city. We are only at the beginning of this work and a lot of good things will follow for us in the future.

Finally, I would like to state that, in order to continue the work of the Green Leaf year, the City of Lappeenranta announces that it is submitting to decision-makers the establishment of three new nature reserves, preparing support in the coming years for all companies aiming at sustainability, and applying for membership among the 100 climate pioneer cities in the EU. Next year will see a number of other measures and initiatives that the city will be taking to implement “Sustainable Success Stories” for the benefit of us all.

Once more, I would like to thank the partners, group companies, financiers, city employees and residents for realising this victory year.”

Mayor Kimmo Jarva