Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Slovenia. It is the political, administrative, cultural and economic centre of the country as well as the headquarters of many national and international institutions and organisations. It is an important European commercial, business, exhibition and congressional area, as well as Slovenia’s transport, science and educational hub.

The city covers 275 km2 and has a population of 288,000 inhabitants. Administratively, Ljubljana is a part of the municipality and, in broader terms, a part of the Ljubljana Urban Region which is the most developed region in the country (GDP per capita is 43 percent above the Slovenian average).

Geographically the city holds an important position, as it is situated on a natural crossroad from Central Europe to the Mediterranean, the Balkan Peninsula and the Pannonian Plain. 

Sustainability focus: Ljubljana – European Green Capital 2016

Ljubljana won the prestigious title of European Green Capital 2016. The award is a European Commission initiative and is bestowed upon the city that has achieved the highest environmental standards and that is committed to implementing ambitious goals to further environmental protection and sustainable development.

To reach the city’s sustainability goals, Ljubljana has adopted a number of strategic sustainability documents, among them the Municipal spatial plan, which directs 83 percent of city development towards the renewal of existing developed areas and brownfields, the Environmental Protection Programme, the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, the Sustainable Energy Action Plan, the Local Energy Concept and Electromobility Strategy, and the Zero Waste Strategy. 

The local government recently closed the city centre to motorised traffic, creating an extensive Urban Ecological Zone that has been gradually expanded so that today it covers more than 100,000 m2. Walking distances for pedestrians have been shortened with the installation of new bridges and the introduction of free of charge electric vehicles. The city has modified the traffic regime on the main traffic artery (Slovenska Street) by limiting motorised traffic and giving priority to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. It has significantly impacted the air quality of existing transport routes in the city: black carbon concentration has decreased by 70 percent with no increase in the surrounding streets. The 24-hour bike-sharing system BicikeLJ (introduced in 2011) has exceeded all expectation, with more than 3.7 million journeys made. The first hour of use is free (which comprises 98 percent of total journeys). 

The need to knows

  • According to the European Commission's survey EUROBAROMETER 2015, 92% of citizens are satisfied or very satisfied to live in Ljubljana.
  • Ljubljana has as much as 542 m2 of public green areas per inhabitant. More than 46% of the city area is covered by native forests, almost 75% by green areas of which over 20% are protected (Natura 2000 areas represent 16.5% of the surface).
  • In 2015 and 2016, 12,089 colleagues from the city family (city administration, public companies and institutes) planted a tree in the tree-planting campaign.
  • The city has introduced numerous measures in the field of sustainable mobility, such as electric car sharing and on-call electric transport.
  • By 2020, the city plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% and achieve balanced mobility distribution – 1/3 public transport, 1/3 walking and cycling, 1/3 private cars.
  • Ljubljana is the European capital with the largest share of separately collected waste (65% in 2015).
  • Ljubljana is the first European capital to be part of the Zero Waste Europe network with a Zero Waste Strategy.
  • In Ljubljana, inhabitants drink tap water that is not treated with technological processes but remains of outstanding quality.


  • Ljubljana is a signatory of the Aalborg Charter
  • Ljubljana is a signatory of the Basque Declaration
  • Ljubljana – European Green Capital  Award 2016
  • Ljubljana is included in the Global Top 100 Sustainable Destinations 2016 and 2014 lists
  • The Golden Apple Award 2016
  • The Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2015
  • The Access City Award 2015 for improvements for people with disabilities
  • The Eurocities 2013 award in the “Smart living“ category
  • The EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK in 2013 and 2003 - Ljubljana is the only European city that received this award twice
  • The European Prize for Urban Public Space 2012 for the project to refurbish the banks and bridges of the River Ljubljanica

What the city has to say

“I am proud of the changes and success over the last decade in Ljubljana, which for me is the most beautiful city in the world. Together with my colleagues, we have proved that by implementing sustainable projects we can be a role model for many European cities, becoming the European Green Capital 2016. We were placed among the best, since we are the first and for now the only city in the Central and Southeast Europe awarded this prestigious title. In its explanation, the Expert Panel stressed that we were the ones to have made the most changes in the right direction according to the sustainable development Vision Ljubljana 2025, which was determined in 2007. Since then, we have implemented more than 1,700 projects to improve quality of life for the citizens of Ljubljana. One of the largest interventions was removing cars from the city centre, which is now a pleasant living area for everyone to enjoy. 

We have also changed 200 acres of degraded land into parks and walking paths for socialising, sports and recreation, and are the first European capital with a Zero Waste Strategy. Our waste efforts have led to a 65 percent share of separated waste in households. We are happy to share our knowledge and experience with other cities and to learn from them.

Ljubljana is a green, clean, safe, and a friendly city where we actively take care of the wellbeing of all generations. Hand in hand, we implement measures and change habits, bearing in mind the generations to come.”

Mr. Zoran Janković, Mayor of Ljubljana

ICLEI and Ljubljana

Ljubljana has been an ICLEI Member since February 2015.



The City of Ljubljana, Visit Ljubljana, Facebook Visit Ljubljana

Photographs provided courtesy of the city.