It’s enough to make my head spin with anticipation! Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities and they are projected to add 274,000 people every day for the next 30 years.  According to organizations like the Earth Day Network (which is making Green Cities its Earth Day theme for 2014) and World Resources Institute (labeling Green Cities as one of the stories to watch for 2014), the real opportunity may be for cities to improve energy efficiency, invest in renewable energy, and implement green building practices.  

In effect, large urban populations could serve as the perfect proving ground for technologies that dramatically increase air and water quality as well as expand green schools, public transport options, farmer’s markets, and green spaces – perhaps even increasing the development of green vacation packages.

How can you affect the change?  Choose these green cities for your next sustainable vacation

  • Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm took the title of the European Green Capital back in 2010 for its outstanding commitment to sustainability. Its carbon emissions are impressive with Stockholm producing only 3.4 tones per capital versus the European average of 10 tones per capita. It’s also famous for the fact that over 40% of the city is made up of green spaces. Combine this city getaway with our trip to the western part of Sweden.
  • Reykjavik, Iceland: With only 115,000 people, the capital of Iceland already gets its energy for heat, hot water and electricity entirely from hydropower and geothermal resources. But, the Land of Fire and Ice is not stopping there as its goal is to unplug itself from all dependence on fossil fuels by 2050. Visit the famed Eyjafjallajökull volcano, walk on the craggy south shore, laze in restorative thermal waters, hike around a live volcano and go caving to see magical underground rock formations. 
  • Curitiba, Brazil: Curitiba companies get tax incentives when their projects include green areas, but the urban ecological concern goes a lot deeper than that. The city built lakes and parks not only for its citizens’ enjoyment but in order to solve the problem of ongoing floods. Made up of almost 30 parks and urban forests, Curitiba has managed in just 30 years to increase the green space average from one square meter per citizen to 52 square meters and continues to improve. Curitiba has even implemented a recycling program that incentivizes low-income families to recycle their way toward earning bus tickets and food. Be part of the fun this year when Brazil plays host to the World Cup.
  • Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne has been in a drought since 1997, so water conservation takes precedence in any city planning project, however, the green building doesn’t stop there as there are policies in place for increasing biodiversity and minimizing ecological footprints. With easy access to the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles formation, our quick getaway can’t be beaten for value!
  • Portland, Oregon: Thirty years ago, Portland demolished a six-lane highway to develop a waterfront park in its place. Since then, the city has been a model of sustainable living for decades, mixing urban and outdoor spaces, and gaining half of its power from renewable sources. Check out our eco-itinerary suggestions for visiting this region.

Read does carbon offsetting really help the earth?

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