Green capital East of the Leitha? The chances and disadvantages of major cities in the Pannonian Basin to win the European Green Capital Award

  • Dalma Schmeller Doctoral School of Earth Sciences, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary
  • Gábor Pirisi Department of Human Geography and Urban Studies, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary
Keywords: European Green Capital Award, green cities, environmental indicators, sustainable urban development, Pannonian Basin


This study focuses on the chances of major cities (over 100,000 inhabitants) in the Pannonian Basin to win the European Green Capital Award. The 28 cities covered by the analysis can be divided into two groups: eleven cities that have already applied (one of them, Ljubljana was a previous winner) and seventeen cities that have not yet applied for the award. During the research, we divided the cities according to these two groups. In the study we applied various statistical and spatial analysis methods to capture similarities and differences in their environmental indicators. The results show that there are no significant differences in environmental indices between these two groups, and the values of the 2016 winner city (Ljubljana) are most similar to Austrian, Slovenian, and Croatian cities. Furthermore, based on the results of the similarity search, it can be stated that the further east we go, the less similar the examined cities are to Ljubljana. We also examined the probability of reaching the finals, indicating that cities that have not yet applied have a low likelihood of winning the award.


Andersson, I. 2016. 'Green cities' going greener? Local environmental policy-making and place branding in the 'Greenest City in Europe'. European Planning Studies 24. (6): 1197-1215.

Badiu, D.L., Iojă, C.I., Pătroescu, M., Breuste, J., Artmann, M., Niță, M.R., ... and Onose, D.A. 2016. Is urban green space per capita a valuable target to achieve cities' sustainability goals? Romania as a case study. Ecological Indicators 70. 53-66.

Bajnai, L. 2007. Városfejlesztés (Urban development). Budapest, Scolar.

Bănică, A., Istrate, M. and Muntele, I. 2020. Towards green resilient cities in Eastern European countries. Journal of Urban and Regional Analysis 12. (1): 53-73.

Barta, Gy. 2009. Integrált Városfejlesztési Stratégia: A városfejlesztés megújítása (Integrated Urban Development Strategy: Renewal of the urban development). Tér és Társadalom 23. (3): 1-12.

Beatley, T. 2011. Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning. Washington, D.C., Island Press.

Beretta, I. 2014. Becoming a European Green Capital: A way towards sustainability? In From Sustainable to Resilient Cities: Global Concerns and Urban Efforts. Ed.: Hol, G.W., Bingley, Emerald Publishing Ltd. 315-338.

Biscossa, F., Botti, M., Cappochin, G., Furlan, G., Lironi, S., Negri, G. and Selmin, T. 2017. Capitali Verdi d'Europa ed EcoCités. Strategie e metodi per la rigenerazione delle città / European Green Capital and EcoCities. Strategies and methods for urban regenearation. In European Green Capitals - Esperienze di Rigenerazione Urbana Sostenibile / Experiences of Sustainable Urban Regeneration. Eds.: Cappochin, G., Botti, M., Furlan, G. and Lironi, S., Siracusa, Lettera Ventidue, 15-39.

Borozan, D. 2018. Decomposing the changes in European final energy consumption. Energy Strategy Reviews 22. 26-36.

Buzási, A. and Jäger, B.S. 2021. Hazai megyeszékhelyek városi fenntarthatóságának statisztikai alapú elemzése (Statistical analysis of urban sustainability in Hungarian county seats). Statisztikai Szemle 99. (8): 731-758.

Buzási, A., Jäger, B.S. and Hortay, O. 2022. Analysing and mapping heatwave vulnerability and urban sustainability. The case of largest Hungarian cities. In SUPTM 2022 Conference Proceedings Sciforum‐050260.

Carter, J.G. 2011. Climate change adaptation in European cities. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 3. (3): 193-198.

Chereches, I.A., Arion, I.D., Muresan, I.C. and Gaspar, F. 2023. Study of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on air quality: A case study in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Sustainability 15. (3): 2549.

Clark, G., Moonen, T. and Nunley, J. 2019. The Story of Your City. Europe and its Urban Development, 1970 to 2020. Luxembourg, European Investment Bank.

Constantin, D.E., Voiculescu, M. and Georgescu, L. 2013. Satellite observations of NO2 trend over Romania. The Scientific World Journal 2013: 261634.

Cömertler, S. 2017. Greens of the European Green Capitals. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 245. (5): 52-64.

Csete, Á.K. and Gulyás, Á. 2021. Green infrastructurebased hydrological modelling, a comparison between different urban districts, through the case of Szeged, Hungary. Hungarian Geographical Bulletin 70. (4): 353-368.

Cutler, A., Cutler, D.R. and Stevens, J.R. 2012. Random forests. In Ensemble Machine Learning: Methods and Applications. Eds.: Zhang, C. and Ma, Y., New York, Springer, 157-175.

Dannert, É. 2016. Terra incognita. Barnamezők és kezelésük Európában, valamint Magyarországon. (Terra incognita. Brownfields and their handling in Europe and Hungary). PhD thesis, Pécs, University of Pécs, TTK.

Demaziere, C. 2020. Green city branding or achieving sustainable urban development? Reflections of two winning cities of the European Green Capital Award: Stockholm and Hamburg. Town Planning Review 91. (4): 373-395.

Dimter, S., Stober, D. and Zagvozda, M. 2019. Strategic planning of cycling infrastructure towards sustainable city mobility: Case study Osijek, Croatia. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 471. (2019) 092022.

Diverde, H. 2016. The European Green Capital Award as a tool for the environmental work in Umeå. MSc thesis, Linköping, University of Linköping. Available at

Egri, Z. and Paraszt, M. 2013. Urbanizáció Kelet-Közép- Európában: A várostipológia kísérletei (Urbanisation in East Central Europe: Experiments of the urban typology). In Új hangsúlyok a területi fejlődésben. Eds.: Lukovics, M. and Savanya, P., Szeged, JATE Press, 79-98.

Ersoy, A. and Larner, W. 2019. Rethinking urban entrepreneurialism: Bristol Green Capital - in it for good? European Planning Studies 28. (4): 790-808.

Ersoy, A. and Hall, S. 2020. The Bristol Green Capital Partnership: an exemplar of reflexive governance for sustainable urban development? Town Planning Review 91. (4): 397-413.

European Commission 2007. Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities. Available at

European Commission 2021. European Green Capital Award 2024 and European Green Capital Award 2024. Rules of Contest. Available at

Feleki, E., Vlachokostas, C. and Moussiopoulos, N. 2018. Characterisation of sustainability in urban areas: An analysis of assessment tools with emphasis on European cities. Sustainable Cities and Society 43. 563-577.

Fife, D.A. and Rodgers, J.L. 2022. Understanding the exploratory/confirmatory data analysis continuum: Moving beyond the "replication crisis". American Psychologist 77. (3): 453-466.

Georgi, B. 2016. Assessing the urban environment: The European Green Capital Award and other urban assessments. In Sustainable Cities: Assessing the Performance and Practice of Urban Environments. Eds.: Laconte, P. and Gossop, C., London, I. B. Tauris, 50-67.

Geurts, P., Ernst, D. and Wehenkel, L. 2006. Extremely randomized trees. Machine Learning 63. 3-42.

Gudmundsson, H. 2015. The European Green Capital Award. Its role, evaluation criteria and policy implications. Toshi Keikaku 64. (2): 22-27.

Gulsrud, N.M., Ostoić, S.K., Faehnle, M., Maric, B., Paloniemi, R., Pearlmutter, D. and Simson, A.J. 2017. Challenges to governing urban green infrastructure in Europe: The case of the European Green Capital Award. In The Urban Forest. Eds.: Pearlmutter, D. et al., Cham, Springer, 235-258.

Hardi, T., Baráth, G., Csizmadia, Zs. and Uszkai, A. 2014. A városnövekedés területi eltérései Európában, különös tekintettel a járműipari városokra (Spatial disparities of urban growth in Europe with special regard to locations of automotive industry). Tér és Társadalom 28. (2): 45-66.

Hårsman, B. and Wijkmark, B. 2013. From ugly duckling to Europe's first green capital: A historical perspective on the development of Stockholm's urban environment. In Sustainable Stockholm. Eds.: Rader Olsson, A. and Metzger, J., Milton Park, Routledge, 10-50.

Herbel, I., Croitoru, A.E., Rus, I., Harpa, G.V. and Ciupertea, A.F. 2016. Detection of atmospheric urban heat island through direct measurements in Cluj-Napoca city, Romania. Hungarian Geographical Bulletin 65. (2): 117-128.

Hervainé Szabó, Gy. 2008. Az integratív várospolitika tapasztalatai a hazai várostérségekben (Experiences of integrative urban policy in domestic urban areas). Tér és Társadalom 22. (1): 77-91.

Hirt, S. 2013. Whatever happened to the (post)socialist city? Cities 32. 29-38.

Hirt, S. and Stanilov, K. 2009. Twenty Years of Tansition. Human Settlements Global Dialogue Series, No. 5. Nairobi, UN-Habitat.

Hirt, S., Ferenčuhová, S. and Tuvikene, T. 2017. Conceptual forum: The "post-socialist" city. Eurasian Geography and Economics 57. (4-5): 497-520.

Ho, T.K. 1995. Random decision forests. In Proceedings of 3rd International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition 1. Montreal, Canada, IEEE Publication, 278-282.

IPCC 2022. Climate Change 2022. Mitigation of Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. WMO UN. Available at

Kahn, M.E. 2006. Green Cities - Urban Growth and the Environment. Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution Press.

Kerr, L. 2017. A tale of two green cities. Exploring the role of visions in the development of green infrastructure in two European Green Capital Cities. MSc thesis, Nijmegen, Radboud University.

Kiss, V.M. 2015. Modelling the energy system of Pécs - The first step towards a sustainable city. Energy 80. (1): 373-387.

Konecka-Szydłowska, B., Trócsányi, A. and Pirisi, G. 2018. Urbanisation in a formal way? The different characteristics of the 'newest towns' in Poland and Hungary. Regional Statistics 8. (2): 135-153.

Korpela, T. 2021. Social media logic in interorganizational boundary spanning: The case of European Green Capital Award 2021. BSc thesis, Groningen, University of Groningen. Available at

Kovács, Z. 1999. Cities from state-socialism to global capitalism: an introduction. GeoJournal 49. (1): 1-6.

Kurstjens, N. 2017. De duurzaamste stad van Europa. Een onderzoek naar stedelijke duurzaamheid en de rol van het beleidsinstrument "European Green Capital Award". MSc thesis, Nijmegen, Radboud University.

Lamsal, L.N., Martin, R.V., Parrish, D.D. and Krotkov, N.A. 2013. Scaling relationship for NO2 pollution and urban population size: A satellite perspective. Environmental Science and Technology 47. (14): 7855-7861.

Lönegren, L. 2009. The European Green Capital Award - Towards a sustainable Europe? BSc thesis. Malmö, Malmö University. Available at

Maior, J-C. 2019. Ljubljana - The Green Capital of EU in 2016. Study case - What has been changed in order to award the title? 2005-2015. Journal of Innovations in Natural Sciences 1. (1): 50-56.

Manca, L.R. 2020. Green Capitals "in the Hearts and Minds of the People". A qualitative enquiry into the perception of the influence of the European Green Capital Award among municipal officials. MSc thesis, Maastricht, Maastricht University.

Meijering, J.V., Kern, K. and Tobi, H. 2014. Identifying the methodological characteristics of European green city rankings. Ecological Indicators 43. 132-142.

Müller, M. and Reutter, O. 2020. Benchmark: Climate and environmentally friendly urban passenger transport - the concepts of the European Green Capitals 2010-2020. World Transport Policy and Practice 26. (2): 21-43.

Nurse, A. and North, P. 2020. European green capital: Environmental urbanism, or an addition to the entrepreneurial toolbox? Town Planning Review 91. (4): 357-372.

Nzimande, N.P. and Fabula, Sz. 2020. Socially sustainable urban renewal in emerging economies: A comparison of Magdolna Quarter, Budapest, Hungary and Albert Park, Durban, South Africa. Hungarian Geographical Bulletin 69. (4): 383-400.

Ozcan, N.S. 2015. An opportunity for the sustainable ecological renewal: European Green Capitals. In Digital Proceeding of ICOCEE - CAPPADOCIA 2015. 20-23. 05.2015. Nevsehir, Turkey.

Pace, R., Churkina, G. and Rivera, M. 2016. How Green is a "Green City"? A Review of Existing Indicators and Approaches. Potsdam, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS).

Pagès, J. 2002. Analyse factorielle multiple appliquée aux variables qualitatives et aux données mixtes. Revue Statistique Appliquee 50. (4): 5-37.

Pantić, M. and Milijić, S. 2021. The European Green Capital Award - Is it a dream or reality for Belgrade (Serbia)? Sustainability 13. (11): 6182.

Pintér, T. 2015. Integrált városfejlesztés az Európai Unió keleti és nyugati tagállamaiban: Románia és Németország esete (Integrated urban development in the eastern and western member states of the European Union: The case of Romania and Germany). Journal of Central European Green Innovation 3. (1063-201686207): 123-136.

Polato, E. 2017. Le Capitali Verdi Europee / European Green Capitals. BSc thesis, Padova, University of Padova. Available at

Poljak Istenič, S. 2016. Reviving public spaces through cycling and gardening. Ljubljana - European Green Capital 2016. Etnološka Tribina: Godišnjak Hrvatskog Etnološkog Društva 46. (39): 157-175.

Popescu, R-I. and Zamfir, A. 2012. Ecological marketing and competitive cities - Best practices for sustainable development of green cities. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 5. (1): 411-419.

Puczkó, L. and Jószai, A. 2015. Települési tervezés (Settlement planning). Budapest, Nemzeti Közszolgálati Egyetem.

Ratas, J. and Mäeltsemees, S. 2013. Role of environment in strengthening competitiveness of cities by example of European Green Capitals and Tallinn. Estonian Discussions on Economic Policy 21. (2).

Rubin, M. 2017. Do p values lose their meaning in exploratory analyses? It depends how you define the familywise error rate. Review of General Psychology 21. (3): 269-275.

Ruiz del Portal Sanz, A. 2015. Is the European Green Capital Award showcasing appropriate models of best practice for transition? The land use indicator. In 52nd International Making Cities Livable Conference on Achieving Green, Healthy Cities. Bristol, 29th June - 3rd July. 2015. Available at

Sailer-Fliege, U. 1999. Characteristics of post-socialist urban transformation in East Central Europe. GeoJournal 49. (1): 7-16.

Sareen, S. and Grandin, J. 2019. European green capitals: branding, spatial dislocation or ca-talysts for change? Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 102. (1): 101-117.

Sarubbi, M.P. and Schmidt Bueno de Moraes, C. 2016. Avaliação comparativa de metodologias de indicadores para a sustentabilidade urbana. Cadernos Zygmunt Bauman 8. (18): 211-231.

Schmeller, D. and Sümeghy, D. 2023. Is the rival city always greener? - An analysis of the indicators for European Green Capital Award shortlisted and applicant cities. Regional Statistics (forthcoming).

Selimović, A. 2022. Važnost urbane zelene infrastrukture na primjeru grada. MSc thesis. Zagreb, University of Zagreb.

Sikos, T.T. and Szendi, D. 2023. A hazai megyei jogú városok gazdasági és környezeti fenntarthatóságának mérése, 2020-2021 (Measuring the economic and environmental sustainability of cities with county rank, 2020-2021). Területi Statisztika 63. (1): 88-124.

Sümeghy, D. and Schmeller, D. 2023. Giving the green light to sustainability: Key political factors behind the European Green Capital Award applications. Journal of Urban Affairs September 2023.

Svirčić Gotovac, A. and Kerbler, B. 2019. From post-socialist to sustainable: The city of Ljubljana. Sustainability 11. (24): 7126.

Szirmai, V. 2004. Globalizáció és a nagyvárosi tér társadalmi szerkezete (Globalisation and the social structure of large urban spaces). Szociológiai Szemle 4. 3-24.

Tallinn Memorandum 2006. Memorandum on the European Green Capital title. Available at

Triscowati, D.W., Sartono, B., Kurnia, A., Dirgahayu, D. and Wijayanto, A.W. 2020. Classification of rice-plant growth phase using supervised random forest method based on landsat-8 multitemporal data. International Journal of Remote Sensing and Earth Sciences 16. (2): 187-196.

Tukey, J.W. 1977. Exploratory Data Analysis. Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley.

Velleman, P.F. and Hoaglin, D.C. 2012. Exploratory data analysis. In APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology. Eds.: Cooper, H., Camic, P.M., Long, D.L., Panter, A.T., Rindskopf, D. and Sher, K.J., Washington, D.C., American Psychological Association, 51-70.

Verdonk, H. 2014. Urban policies in Europe. In Cities As Engines of Sustainable Competitiveness: European Urban Policy in Practice. Eds.: van den Berg, L., van der Meer, J. and Carvalho, L., Farnham, Ashgate Publishing, 11-83.

Zhou, J., Li, E., Wei, H., Li, C., Qiao, Q. and Armaghani, D.J. 2019. Random forests and cubist algorithms for predicting shear strengths of rockfill materials. Applied Sciences 9. (8): 1621.

Zoeteman, B., Slabbekoorn, J., Mommaas, H. and Dagevos, J. 2014. Sustainability Monitoring of European Cities. A Scoping Study Prepared in Collaboration with DG Environment for European Green Capital Award applicants. Telos Project, Tilburg, Tilburg University. Available at

Zoeteman, B., van der Zande, M. and Smeets, R. 2015. Integrated Sustainability Monitoring of 58 EUCities. Draft report of Telos Project, Tilburg, Tilburg University.

How to Cite
SchmellerD., & PirisiG. (2023). Green capital East of the Leitha? The chances and disadvantages of major cities in the Pannonian Basin to win the European Green Capital Award. Hungarian Geographical Bulletin, 72(3), 287-309.