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The Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova met with the Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori

The Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova and the Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavouori discussed the challenges facing the big cities. The two talked during a forum on climate change in the cities that took place in Helsinki.

Fandakova emphasized the importance of active dialogue between cities, national governments and the European Commission, because only with joint efforts good results are possible.

Sofia is an example of results achieved thanks to European solidarity and partnership with European capitals, said Fandakova. Climate change and the improvement of ambient air quality are among the biggest challenges facing big cities and citizens expect concrete action in this direction.

Sofia Municipality has adopted and implemented a programme containing more than 100 measures to improve air quality and tackle the main sources of pollution. The measures are divided into three main groups. In recent years, Sofia reduced pollution from various sources; however, overcoming pollution from fine particulate matter remains a challenge. Therefore, major efforts are focused on reducing FPM pollution.

For Sofia is extremely important and we work to continue the renovation of the public transport system, to provide new pedestrian spaces and more opportunities for alternative travel by bicycles.

For the past 10 years, Sofia has doubled the lines of the subway, which currently holds 34% of public transport in the city. The subway is an example of the role of European solidarity in Sofia. Currently, we save 70 thousand tons of harmful emissions per year on the subway, and with the third line we are building now - we will save 90 thousand tons a year, said Sofia mayor. The subway is the largest project that the European Commission has repeatedly set as an example of well-invested European funds.

For five years, we have carried out the most extensive renovation of public transport. At present, we have upgraded 60% of city buses, and this year and the next, we continue to supply new buses and the first 20 electric buses already arrived. Thus, in 2019, we will be able to renew 90% of the buses that run on the public lines.

The second group of measures that are being implemented in Sofia are aimed at changing the ways and systems of domestic heating, which also requires the active participation of citizens.

The third group of measures is related to rising awareness and dialogue with citizens. No institution could achieve results alone. Therefore, the participation and awareness of the people is very important.

Sofia residents recognize the role of the European Commission, said also Mayor Fandakova. "We expect that the Cohesion Policy in support of the city-critical projects will continue. We rely on the European Commission to focus its policy more deeply on major cities where most people work and live, and expect European solidarity."

Yordanka Fandakova invited the mayor of Helsinki to take part in an upcoming conference on combating climate change and improving the air quality. The conference will be held in Sofia in April 2019.

The Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova held a meeting with Vice-President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen.

The Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova and the Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavouori

The Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova with Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission