Essen: A Vibrant Metropolis of Culture, Greenery, and Innovation


Robert Eduard Antal » Urban Innovation » Essen's Commitment to Sustainability and Innovation

Contributions and Roles of Essen in the Eurocities Network

Innovation and Sustainability

Essen is a pioneer in committing to sustainability and innovation within the Eurocities network. The city’s primary goals are to reduce CO2 emissions and promote the adoption of green technology. Significant efforts have been directed toward transitioning from coal to more sustainable energy sources. Essen actively participates in initiatives aimed at minimizing its environmental footprint and mitigating climate change.

Smart City Initiatives

Essen leverages cutting-edge technology to improve urban life. By utilizing smart technologies, the city has implemented a range of projects designed to clean waterways, enhance healthcare services, and improve public transportation. These technologies are not only modernizing infrastructure but also increasing efficiency and quality of life for residents.

Examples of Smart City Projects

  • Smart Water Management: Implementing IoT sensors to monitor water quality in rivers and lakes.
  • Digital Health Services: Utilizing telemedicine platforms to enhance healthcare accessibility.
  • Intelligent Traffic Systems: Implementing smart traffic lights to reduce congestion and emissions.
  • Waste Management: Adopting smart waste bins that notify collection services when full.

Cultural and Social Projects

Essen places a strong emphasis on cultural and social projects, ensuring inclusive support for vulnerable groups. Cultural heritage is celebrated through numerous events and festivals, fostering community spirit and social cohesion. Additionally, Essen supports diverse initiatives aimed at providing support services and opportunities for marginalized populations.

Official City Website:

Examples of Cultural and Social Initiatives

  • RUHR Museum Initiatives: Various programs showcasing regional and global cultural heritage.
  • Social Inclusion Projects: Community centers offering services and workshops for refugees and immigrants.
  • Youth Engagement Programs: Initiatives aimed at integrating young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Urban Planning and Development

Essen undertakes significant urban development projects focused on enhancing livability and addressing climate change. The city’s planning incorporates sustainable practices and innovative design to create vibrant, eco-friendly neighborhoods. These development projects aim to make the city more resilient and adaptable to future challenges.

Examples of Urban Development Projects

  • Krupp Belt: Transforming a former industrial area into a modern mixed-use development with green spaces.
  • Green Capital Initiative: Projects aimed at increasing urban green spaces and enhancing biodiversity.
  • Climate Adaptation Strategy: Implementing measures like green roofs and rain gardens to manage urban heat and flooding.

Youth and Education

Essen is dedicated to creating vibrant environments for students and young professionals. The city offers various educational programs and initiatives aimed at fostering creativity, innovation, and skill development among the youth. Through partnerships with local universities and businesses, Essen provides ample opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Examples of Youth and Education Initiatives

  • University Collaborations: Joint projects and research with the University of Duisburg-Essen.
  • Tech Startup Incubators: Providing support and resources for young entrepreneurs.
  • STEM Outreach Programs: Initiatives aimed at promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics among schoolchildren.

Benefits of Participation in Eurocities

Through its active participation in the Eurocities network, Essen gains numerous benefits, including access to a vast pool of knowledge and expertise, collaboration opportunities with other member cities, and funding for innovative projects. The city can share best practices and learn from other urban centers in Europe, enhancing its own strategies and initiatives. This cooperation fosters a sense of solidarity and mutual growth among all participating cities.

Essen, Germany


Essen is located in the western part of Germany, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It lies within the Ruhr metropolitan area, which is known for its industrial heritage. The city is bounded by the Ruhr River to the south and the Emscher River to the north, featuring a mix of urban and natural landscapes.


Essen has a population of approximately 582,000 people. The city is characterized by a diverse demographic profile, with a significant percentage of foreign residents. The age distribution is relatively balanced, though there is a notable presence of both young professionals and older retirees, contributing to a dynamic community atmosphere.

Economic Overview

The economy of Essen is multifaceted, with key industries including energy, technology, healthcare, and education. Historically known for its coal and steel industries, Essen has successfully transitioned to a service-oriented economy. The city’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is robust, driven by companies like RWE AG and E.ON SE, which are leaders in the energy sector. Additionally, the city’s numerous research and development centers bolster its economic resilience.

Historical Significance

Essen’s history dates back over a thousand years, with significant growth during the Industrial Revolution due to its rich coal deposits. The city played a crucial role during both World Wars due to its industrial capabilities. Post-World War II, Essen underwent significant reconstruction and modernization. In 2010, it was designated as the European Capital of Culture, recognizing its cultural and historical importance.

Cultural Attractions

  • Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this complex is a testament to Essen’s industrial history and now serves as a cultural venue.
  • Museum Folkwang: One of Germany’s leading art museums, housing a vast collection of 19th and 20th-century artworks.
  • Villa Hügel: The former residence of the Krupp family, now open to the public for tours and cultural events.
  • Essen Light Festival: An annual event that transforms the city with stunning light installations and interactive displays.

Education System

Essen’s education system is comprehensive, catering to various academic and professional needs. It includes numerous primary and secondary schools, both public and private. Higher education is represented by institutions such as the University of Duisburg-Essen, renowned for its research programs and diverse course offerings. The city also boasts specialized colleges and vocational training centers.

Transportation Infrastructure

Essen has a well-developed transportation network that includes an extensive public transit system of buses, trams, and trains. The Essen Hauptbahnhof (main train station) is a central hub connecting the city to other major German and European cities. Additionally, Essen is accessible via several major highways and is in proximity to Düsseldorf International Airport, providing both domestic and international flights.

Urban Development Projects

Essen is actively engaged in urban development projects aimed at enhancing sustainability and quality of life. Notable initiatives include the “Grün und Gruga” project, which focuses on expanding and maintaining green spaces, and the revitalization of former industrial sites, transforming them into residential and commercial areas. The city is also part of the European Green Capital Network, underscoring its commitment to sustainable urban planning.

Environmental Initiatives

Essen is recognized for its efforts in environmental sustainability. The city has implemented various initiatives such as promoting renewable energy, improving public transportation to reduce car emissions, and launching extensive recycling programs. In 2017, Essen was awarded the title of European Green Capital, reflecting its dedication to environmental protection and sustainable urban development.

Quality of Living

The quality of living in Essen is considered high, with well-developed healthcare facilities, a relatively low crime rate, and a range of amenities that cater to residents’ needs. The city offers a balanced mix of urban and recreational spaces, enhancing the overall living experience. Public services are efficient, and the community is vibrant and inclusive.

Quality of Life Indexes

  • Livability Ranking: Essen consistently ranks high in livability indexes thanks to its strong infrastructure, cultural offerings, and green spaces.
  • Health Index: The city enjoys a high health index due to its excellent healthcare services and initiatives promoting public health.
  • Environmental Quality Score: Essen’s environmental quality score is impressive, reflecting its successful sustainability policies and initiatives.

In summary, Essen is a city that harmoniously blends its rich industrial heritage with modern advancements, resulting in a dynamic and vibrant urban environment. The city’s focus on sustainability, cultural enrichment, and high quality of living make it a noteworthy destination in Germany.

Mayor Profile: Thomas Kufen

Current Position

Mayor of Essen, Germany

Political Affiliation

Christian Democratic Union (CDU)


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Economics – University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Master’s Degree in Public Administration – University of Duisburg-Essen

Professional Background

Prior to becoming mayor, Thomas Kufen has had an extensive career in both local government and the private sector. His career highlights include:

  • Member of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia (2000-2010)
  • Parliamentary Manager of the CDU Parliamentary Group in the NRW State Parliament
  • Deputy Chairman of the CDU Essen District Association
  • Manager of the RWE Gas Midstream GmBH & Co. KG

Achievements as Mayor

Since becoming mayor of Essen in 2015, Thomas Kufen has initiated and implemented several key projects and initiatives:

  • Sustainability
    • Development of green spaces and parks to enhance urban biodiversity
    • Promotion of the city’s “Essen – Green Capital of Europe 2017” initiatives
  • Urban Development
    • Implementation of the “Essen 2030” urban redevelopment plan
    • Revitalization of the Krupp Belt project to rejuvenate former industrial areas
  • Technological Advancements
    • Expansion of digital infrastructure and public Wi-Fi networks
    • Implementation of smart city technologies to improve urban management and services

Vision for the Future

Thomas Kufen envisions a future for Essen that is characterized by smarter urban management, sustainability, and greater community engagement. His goals for the future include:

  • Smart City Initiatives
    • Integrating IoT technologies to enhance city services and public safety
    • Expanding digital literacy programs for residents
  • Environmental Sustainability
    • Reducing the city’s carbon footprint through renewable energy projects
    • Encouraging public transportation usage to decrease traffic congestion
  • Community Engagement
    • Fostering stronger community-government collaboration
    • Developing inclusive policies that address the needs of all residents

Personal Life

Thomas Kufen is actively involved in his community and committed to various personal interests:

  • Hobbies: Running, cooking traditional German dishes, reading about public policy
  • Interests: Climate action, social equity, and cultural heritage preservation
  • Personal Commitments: Active volunteer with local charities and environmental organizations

Awards and Honors

  • Order of Merit of North Rhine-Westphalia for outstanding public service
  • European Green Capital Award for Essen in 2017
  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of Duisburg-Essen for contributions to urban development and sustainability

Essen: Quality of Life and Cost of Living

Quality of Life


Essen boasts a Safety Index of 58.18, indicating a generally secure environment for its residents and visitors. The city prioritizes public safety with effective law enforcement and community programs, ensuring a low crime rate and a sense of security throughout.


With a Healthcare Quality Index of 74.46, Essen provides excellent healthcare services through several well-established medical institutions. The healthcare system is known for its accessibility, high standards of care, and innovative medical treatments.


Essen’s Pollution Index of 39.53 reflects its commitment to environmental sustainability. The city undertakes various initiatives to maintain a clean and healthy environment, including waste management programs, green spaces, and pollution control measures.


The Transportation Index is a high 79.33, demonstrating Essen’s efficient and extensive public transportation system. The network includes buses, trams, and trains, providing comprehensive coverage and connectivity throughout the city and to surrounding areas.


Educational opportunities in Essen are of high quality, with the University of Duisburg-Essen being one of the prominent institutions. This university offers a broad range of programs and is recognized for its research, shaping both local and international academics.

Cost of Living


The cost of housing in Essen is relatively affordable. For instance, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center is €548.42 per month.

Groceries and Dining

  • Monthly grocery costs for a single person: €172.78
  • Dining out (inexpensive meal): €10


The average monthly utility cost for an 85m2 apartment is €171.06. This typically includes electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage disposal services.


A monthly public transport pass costs €74.50, making mobility throughout the city affordable and accessible.


  • Fitness club membership: €28.45 per month
  • Cinema ticket: €10

Overall, Essen offers a commendable quality of life at a reasonable cost, reinforcing its status as an attractive Eurocity. Residents benefit from secure living conditions, excellent healthcare, a clean environment, efficient transportation, and quality education, all at manageable costs of living.

Source: Numbeo.

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