Växjö is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of Kronoberg County, located in the middle of the south of Sweden. The City is renowned for its environmental policy – it has been awarded several international awards for its environmental work. The BBC described Växjö as “the greenest city in Europe,” a phrase which has become the city’s slogan.
Växjö has a growth rate comparable to Sweden’s major cities – it expects its population to grow by 30,000 before 2030. Accordingly, there are large-scale plans for residential building construction in the City to accommodate this growth. Växjö’s rich and diverse business environment, which includes some 8000 businesses in a dynamic mix of size and sectors, is also expecting growth. The City has approximately 600 businesses within the IT sector. Other growing sectors include building and construction, tourism, and logistics.
In 1996, the City of Växjö decided unanimously to become fossil fuel free. The City’s 2014 Environmental Programme target is to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels in the town by 2030. All fuels from finite resources that cause emissions and climate change are to be phased out and replaced by fuels that are gentler on the environment. Växjö is the first local government body in the world to have taken such strong and decisive measures against fossil fuels.
In March 2015, Växjö mayor Bo Frank issued a declaration which urges the Swedish Government and European local authorities to take meaningful action to go fossil fuel free. The Växjö Declaration is a collaboration between the City of Växjö, Linnaeus University, and the green regional business network Sustainable Småland. By outlining the substantial measures the City of Växjö has already undertaken and then listing tangible actions that they wish to see the Swedish Government and European local authorities take, the Declaration aims to inspire significant policy changes in the regions that can best use the City as a reference.
Over the course of the last 20 years, the City of Växjö has successfully decreased its fossil CO2 emissions by 47%. The City of Växjö’s goal is to be fossil fuel free by 2030. It has already implemented a working combined heat and power plant for district heating, district cooling, and electricity production with 100% biomass.
The City’s next challenge is to develop a fossil fuel free city with a strong, sustainable transport system. In Växjö, cars are still a common mode of transportation. The City is interested in developing a transport system that will allow citizens to conveniently and safely move around the city without the use of vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Växjö hopes that its recently adopted transport plan can influence citizens to use public transportation and bicycles instead of cars.
Goals: Växjö is interested in becoming an integral node of Sweden’s long-term plan for an improved national rapid train system. Växjö believes that it can learn from Japan regarding this issue. Växjö is particularly interested in discussing fossil fuel free city development and sustainable transport with other project cities. Växjö is also interested in learning from its partner city, Shimokawa, on how to best utilize and optimize the resources of the forest.
Despite an increasing population, Växjö is committed to remaining and enhancing their compact city status. Växjö’s goal is to limit urban sprawl and minimize land consumption, where greenfields and natural areas around the city are left untouched. The city understands and highlights the benefits of compactness, which reduces the need for heating and mobility, and offers possibilities for more efficient land use. Växjö hopes to achieve this through spatial and urban planning and through strong control of land supply and speculative development. In line with the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities, Växjö hopes to introduce more mixed housing and multi-family apartment buildings so urban neighborhoods can be optimized.
To achieve its compact city goals, it is necessary for residents to not require a car. In additional to increased bicycle use, public transportation must be accessible and well integrated. Växjö has redeveloped their old railway stations to make commuting between cities and in the region possible on user-friendly trains. In 2013, Växjö introduced green biogas buses. Along with the updated fleet, the number of buses and frequencies have increased and routes have been optimized. As a result, passenger numbers and overall user satisfaction rates have increased.
Goals: Växjö is interested in learning how other cities, which are experiencing urban sprawl, are solving these issues and becoming more compact. Växjö is interested in learning how Japanese cities are creating compact living quarters for the elderly to provide them with better access to healthcare and transportation. Växjö hopes to learn how to build up its city center by avoiding skyscrapers and how to densify small areas. Växjö would like to learn more about eco-neighborhoods with multi-family housing options and green building standards.