A competition which will crown one European city the greenest on the continent was launched this week.
The European Green Capital Award will not announce its first winner until 2010 in what will then become an annual contest.
The competition, set up by the European Commission, seeks to promote environmentally-friendly living while recognising the efforts of those cities which are leading the charge.
The guidelines say judges will be looking for 'a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards, is permanently committed to ambitious action, further environmental improvement and sustainable development, and can act as a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices in all other European cities'.
Cities will be judged on a broad spectrum of criteria, rather than a single project.
Contenders will need to show good practice in areas such as air quality, energy use, water efficiency, waste management and transport.
For the purposes of the competition, any town with a population of 200,000 or above qualifies as a city.
Cities from candidate states - currently Turkey, Croatia and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia - and those in the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) are able to enter as well as those in the 27 EC countries are allowed to enter.
The EC's Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "I hope that this award will act as a powerful incentive for local governments and authorities to improve living conditions for Europe's city-dwellers. Many cities are already committed to improving protection of their environment: I am confident that this award will encourage many more to follow suit."
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