Museum Het Valkhof served as the backdrop for the Wondertuin (Wonder garden) for three whole days. All of Nijmegen was invited so we could kick off the year together. There was something to do for everyone: young and old, doers, thinkers, and talkers. It was inspiring, stimulating, and had a good beat for dancing. Speakers such as André Kuipers, Jan Terlouw, and Jelle Brandt Corstius were on hand. Not to mention music from Linde Schöne, Luwten, and Het Zusje van Debbie. For the young visitors, there was the Grote Groene Kidsklup (Great Green Kids Klub). Here, they could taste grasshoppers, make their own toothpaste, convert old equipment into new creations, and take a fairy tale walk through the Valkhofpark.
Official ceremony in the church
The official kick-off of the year took place on 20 January in the Sint-Stevenskerk. The invited guests included Karmenu Vella, the European commissioner for the Environment, who awards the title to a different European city every year. Other guests included Secretary of Infrastructure and Water Management Stientje van Veldhoven, the King’s Commissioner for Gelderland Clemens Cornielje, environmental deputy Bea Schouten, the mayors of the preceding Green Capital Essen and the forthcoming Green Capital Oslo, entire board of mayor and aldermen, with mayor of Nijmegen Hubert Bruls, and alderman Harriët Tiemens, whose portfolio includes sustainability. Mayor Bruls was handed the book and the award by predecessor Essen. In total, five thousand people attended the opening festival of Nijmegen European Green Capital 2018.
Green Capital Challenges
The Green Capital Challenges consist of a group of committed inhabitants who wanted to bring everyone on board in 2018 to make the city more sustainable. They chose twelve themes, such as waste, food, and energy. A different theme was chosen for every month in 2018. This yielded some wonderful results, such as the Waste Challenge, the Walk of Waste, the focus on vegetarian food in restaurants, a Circular Economy Model Home, Sit & Heat cushions, street furniture with incorporated electronic devices, and the Flowlands festival. Every theme was concluded with a Sustainability Cafe.
Award ceremony and Spiegelwaal concert
It was revealed in Nijmegen halfway through the year, during Green Week, that Lisbon would be European Green Capital for 2020. The absolute highlight of Green Week was the Spiegelwaal concert, which was not only enjoyed by the delegations from Europe and the nominated cities, but also by the people of Nijmegen.
King Willem-Alexanders's visit
On 4 July King Willem-Alexander visited Nijmegen European Green Capital. He began his visit in the visitors’ pavilion at Kelfkensbos, tried out an eco-lounge in Valkhof Park and in De Bastei he spoke with pupils from Eco Schools and representatives from all sorts of sustainable initiatives in the city. He ended his visit by walking along the Walk of Waste to the Stadswaard, where he talked about biodiversity with Hans de Kroon, Professor of Plant Ecology, and got acquainted with nature BSO Struin.
Picknick on the Waal Bridge
During the Mobility Week, the Waal Bridge, which normally carries 50,000 vehicles a day, was closed to traffic for 24 hours on Sunday 16 September. Starting at 1 pm, 1,000 people were able to enjoy a vegetarian lunch made from regional produce. That meant that 250 litres of apple juice and 2,500 sandwiches were served. In the afternoon, the bridge formed the décor for various artists and activities, including the NK Slowbiking, bicycle games, demonstrations by skating centre Waalhalla, performances by the theatre group Abacus and music by the cycling Radio Barkas.
Another highlight was the Mayors’ Conference on 23 November, where all 22 cities from the Green Capital Network signed a Call for Action which was presented during the COP24 UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland. In the Call for Action, the cities commit to further increase their efforts to make their cities even more sustainable.
During Green Friday, on 14 December, a lot of volunteers were spread throughout the city to make the city greener and cleaner. Everyone who helped during the day was invited to enjoy a performance that evening in the centre, which included a concert by Navarone in the St. Stevens Church or the premier of the film ‘Green Tales of the City’.