Environmental problems affect urban living quality, and their impact needs to be reduced in order to achieve a sustainable future. This could include, for example,waste reduction, soil recovery, reduced transport or greener transportation to improve air quality, energy efficiency and more.
By providing support to R&D in public sector and industry the City of Stockholm aimed to improve environmental quality in Stockholm, now and in the future. The Stockholm municipality (Sweden) allocated 1.1 billion (SEK) in 2003 for the large scale ‘Environmental Billion’ project, in order to stimulate environmental projects that would contribute to improved environmental quality in Stockholm.
The budget (public grant partial funding for R&D) for the Environmental Billion project focused on soil pollution (32%), measures in lakes and rivers (28%) and other urgent environmental projects (40%).The Environmental Billion ran from 2003 to 2011, with a total amount of 158 projects funded within municipal departments and companies. The approved projects within the Environment Billion project were categorized (based on the three focus areas) as follows: waste (23 projects), biodiversity (9 projects), energy (22 projects), information (10 projects), transport/air (11 projects), tools/inventories (7 projects), lakes and rivers (47 projects), and land (28 projects). Additionally, there was a single project called "10-million pot", which provided air for environmental projects in schools and organizations.
An example of a successful project of the Environment Billion was the demonstration of a new food waste separation system in Stockholm.
The Environmental Billion project was evaluated and followed up by both the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Deloitte. In the evaluation, it was found that the initiative for Environmental Billion created long-term environmental benefits for the city of Stockholm. Despite obstacles for a number of individual projects, mostly due to political shifts, the project has had a high delivery rate and completion which was a great success.
Success factors for Environmental Billion’s project included a close collaboration between partners in different projects, commitment of the people involved, and strategic planning. The dissemination of information will be important for future environmental initiatives.
The Environmental Billion project contributed to Stockholm being granted the European Green Capital 2010 award by the EU Commission. The project is estimated to be 9 on the GML scale.