Cannes (France)

Cannes is a coastal city with 75,000 inhabitants, located in the south-east of France on the Mediterranean Sea. This global city is known worldwide for its International Film Festival. Unsurprisingly, as Cannes' beautiful coastline makes it look like a film backdrop.

Cannes is a great example of a “global village” – a small city with a global reach – which welcomes 3 million visitors per year, spanning leisure and business tourists. In fact, Cannes is the second-largest conference host in France, behind only Paris.

Cannes has extraordinary natural heritage, including the Lérins Islands, one of its most beautiful attractions, which is managed following the ‘SMILO’ small, sustainable island approach.

This natural heritage is, in part, why the City of Cannes launched an environmental charter in 2004, and then a local Agenda 21 in 2008, followed by an updated Agenda 21 in 2015.

As a territory subject to flooding and the risk of marine submersion, Cannes also participates in the European UNaLab project to fight climate change using nature-based solutions.

Sustainability focus: Marine protection

The City of Cannes is implementing a number of actions to preserve marine biodiversity, including the establishment of fish nurseries in its ports, and the installation of “The sea begins here” plaques near rainwater outlets. Of particular note is the development of a Charter for Sustainable Cruises in the Cannes Bay (right: image from signing).

This charter, created in July 2019 and signed by all the cruise companies that travel to Cannes, imposes four requirements on ships:

  1. the use of fuel with 0.1% sulphur, a ban on incinerating waste on board upon entering the compulsory ‘piloting area’, and the establishment of a tendering process that takes into account the environment;
  2. a ban on discharging wastewater, even treated wastewater, and water from fume washing systems in the piloting and mooring areas;
  3. the obligation to bypass the ‘Posidonia meadows’, a protected marine plant, during manoeuvres and anchoring;
  4. the promotion of sustainability initiatives among operators carrying cruise passengers.

This is the most environmentally strict charter in the Mediterranean, which holds great potential given that 430,000 cruise passengers were welcomed in Cannes in 2019 alone.

The need to knows

  • Cannes has in place:

    • a local Agenda 21
    • a Zero Plastic Plan
    • a Charter for Sustainable Cruises in the Cannes Bay

  • Its natural areas include:

    • 30% of the municipality classified as green areas (natural, agricultural, wooded); this figure increases to 2/3 including the sea
    • 1 tree for every 2 inhabitants and 820 protected trees
    • 200 family gardens and six shared gardens

  • 18.4 km of cycling paths
  • Promotion of public transportation, and a plan for 1/3 of the fleet to be decarbonised by 2025
  • SMILO approach (‘Small Sustainable Islands’) on the Lérins Islands
  • Climathon


  • 2020 Grand Prize for Sustainable Development from the Association des Villes pour la Propreté Urbaine (Association of Cities for Urban Cleanliness)
  • 2019 SMILO small islands label: “Landscapes” prize for Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat islands; “Ecosystems and biodiversity” prize for Sainte-Marguerite island; and “Waste” prize for Saint-Honorat island
  • 2019 Positive Dynamics Prize awarded by the Institut de l'Économie Positive
  • 2018 Regional Trophy: “A COP in advance”
  • 2018 Gold Trophy: Maritime Alpes Climate Plan
  • Pilot city for the “Responsible International Destination” label
  • Positive Energy Territory for Green Growth

What the city has to say

“Approaching all municipal actions through the lens of environmental protection and sustainable development is imperative today. We must do this for future generations who lend us this world, for the flora and fauna with which we share it, in solidarity with all social and economic classes, and for the liveability of our cities. It is for all these reasons that at Cannes we have chosen to act.”

David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes

ICLEI and Cannes

Cannes has been a member of ICLEI since September 2020 and is involved in a working group as part of the EVERYWH2ERE project – a project in which ICLEI Europe is a partner – on the topic of developing hydrogen generators.

With ICLEI's support, Cannes hopes to host an event in its Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, bringing together the Mediterranean cities that are ICLEI Members to discuss common issues, and, in particular, the necessity of putting in place a pollutant emissions regulatory zone in the Mediterranean Sea.

Other relevant links:

    All images courtesy of the City of Cannes; all images © Mairie de Cannes.