investing reading time: 6 min publication date: 22.02.2023


Rendering of the sponge city trees at Villach's Hauptplatz

Villach has been focusing on sustainability and climate protection in its urban development for many years. With the aim of sustainably, improving the quality of life, and location in the city, city politicians have developed comprehensive strategies and implemented a wide range of climate-related measures. Thanks to its commitment to achieving climate neutrality, Villach plays a pioneering role in many of its initiatives and has often received awards for its projects. In February 2023 there is two forms of great news with regard to the climate-friendly efforts of the City at the Drau: In addition to being awarded the e5-Krone again, Villach has now also been named a climate pioneer city (“Klimapionierstadt”) by the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK).  



The aim of the “Pioneer City – Partnership for Climate-Neutral Cities 2030” initiative of the Ministry of Climate Protection is to work with selected Austrian cities to make pioneering achievements on the way to climate-neutrality. In doing so, ecological, economic, practical and socially viable impulses and solutions should be developed and promoted. At the beginning of 2023, Villach was one of only six cities in Austria - and also the only non-state capital - to be officially declared a climate pioneer city for the next five years by the Austrian Ministry of Climate Protection. As part of a cooperation agreement, Villach has committed itself to expanding its innovative measures for climate neutrality, adapting administrative processes, and structures. These have been implemented in an exemplary manner in the district and serve as a learning environment for cities, municipalities, federal states and the federal government.

In the application process, Villach was able to convince a jury of experts with the concept that was submitted. This includes a variety of measures, such as the integration of all municipal departments, the development of new instruments for sustainable urban development, as well as the major construction project at Westbahnhof. Above all, the climate-neutral district project, which was created in cooperation with the ÖBB, is intended to create 170 affordable apartments on the basis of the latest climate protection findings. With this elevation to become a climate pioneer city, Villach receives significant support on its way to climate neutrality: Up to two million euros are being funded by the federal government for the financing of important climate protection measures. In Villach, investments are to be made  in the expansion and promotion of sustainable projects and in raising awareness. Alongside the five provincial capitals, the city on the Drau thus assumes a leading role throughout Austria and can therefore put its strategies into practice more quickly and efficiently.

© Stadt Villach | Astrid Kompan
e5-Krone trophy


Since 2010, Villach has also been a member of the pan-European e5 program for energy efficient communities. After the organic food for kindergartens and the ReUse project, the city made it into first place in 2023 with its trees planted according to the sponge city principle in downtown Villach as the most sustainable municipality and has now been awarded the e5-Krone for the third time.


Villach lives green. The city shows this with its ongoing projects, such as the expansion of the district heating network, the photovoltaic offensive, the greening of Villach's city center or the introduction of the new bus cycle system. As a climate pioneer, the city continues to pursue ambitious and innovative ideas to successfully achieve the set climate goals.