Let us introduce Leeuwarden

The city of Leeuwarden is the cultural and economic heart of the province of Fryslân. This hidden gem (according to Lonely Planet) is not just the capital of the region, but also the European Capital of Culture 2018 and the European Capital of Water Technology, which shows just how vibrant Leeuwarden really is. With its 123.000 inhabitants, 33.000 students, the city is home to an active economic community that consists of 73.400 jobs and 11.000 businesses. Being a former royal city, located in a rural and water-filled region, many of this economic activity takes place in Leeuwarden’s historically active Water Technology-, Agrofood- and Cultural sectors. The city actively works together with all these sectors to become the Europe’s most favourable development region for Circular Economy in 2025!

Leeuwarden: city as a campus, region as a living lab!

In Leeuwarden, we believe that innovation is the key to a more sustainable world. That is why we actively stimulate and facilitate innovation in our historically top sectors: water technology, agri-food and energy production. Over the last two decades, with the help of the local governments, each sector has set up its own campus: a place where business, research and governments meet to develop breakthrough sustainable innovations. As Leeuwarden stimulates local living labs, these innovations can directly be tested throughout the city and the region. The city as a campus, the region as a Living Lab! The WaterCampus, DairyCampus and Energycampus all work separately and cooperatively on sustainable innovations that help us realize the green transition and realize a circular economy. To create societal support for these local solutions to global problems, Leeuwarden uses its cultural heritage and year as European Capital of Culture to raise awareness for global themes such as climate change, pollution, biodiversity and many more.!

Leeuwarden in Europe

Leeuwarden is actively involved in multiple European projects, covering various themes and programs. Leeuwarden has, amongst others, experience with projects under Horizon2020, Interreg, COSME, LIFE, Erasmus+, covering the following themes:

  • Water Technology
  • Agrifood
  • Circular Economy
  • Culture / Tourism
  • Energy Transition
  • Climate Adaptation

With respect to these topics, Leeuwarden is eager to share its knowledge with and to learn from other European partners! Therefore, Leeuwarden is already participating in various European networks and platforms such as ERRIN, Eurocities, ENoLL and iKen. Also, Leeuwarden is a proud member of the UN Global Compact.

Leeuwarden’s goals within Europe

Leeuwarden and Europe face a lot of the same challenges and share the vision of a sustainable, healthy and fair Europe. When these ambitions overlap, Leeuwarden and Europe can strengthen each other. Leeuwarden has identified 7 themes on which it thinks cooperation with European partners can be of great value.

Climate Adaptation, Ecology and Biodiversity

Due to its geographical location, Leeuwarden is extra susceptible to the effects of climate change. To be prepared for the increasing risks of flooding, draught and heat, Leeuwarden wants to be climate adaptive by 2035. In reshaping the public space to be climate adaptive, we also see a chance to increase our biodiversity.

Energy Transition

To reduce our impact on the environment, we want to be a climate neutral municipality by 2030. That is why we invest in new sustainable sources of energy, reducing our energy demand and setting up Positive Energy Districts and local energy systems.

Circular Economy

We want to become Europe’s most circular region by 2025! With our different campuses and the award-winning Circular Friesland Association, we already have an impressive ecosystem to make this happen.

Sustainable and active mobility

Leeuwarden aims to reduce the environmental impact of its mobility. Therefore, we aim to make our public transport completely CO2-neutral, and do we facilitate active modes of mobility, such as walking or cycling. It is no coincidence that our mobility motto is ’Bike on one!’.

Improving Leeuwarden East

Leeuwarden East is a district with considerable socio-economic challenges. With a designated 20 year program, we want to improve the resident’s quality of life in an integral way. The program focuses on health, housing, learning and employment. By addressing these topics, we wish to unlock the district’s potential.

City as a campus, region as a living lab

By facilitating the city’s campuses and providing them with living lab locations, we invest in setting up a favorable ecosystem for sustainable innovation. The WaterCampus, DairyCampus and Energycampus all come up with innovations that contribute to the green transition and a circular economy. We aim to keep improving and expanding our innovative ecosystem, and look forward to connecting it to our European partners.

Cultural tourism

A city with a rich cultural heritage and vibrant cultural sector, Leeuwarden was the European Capital of Culture of 2018. To keep the legacy of this historical year alive, we invest in a cultural program (LF2028) that organizes major cultural events every three years. These events are used to raise awareness for global issues such as biodiversity loss, inequality or climate adaptation.

Examples of projects


The municipality of Leeuwarden and the province of Fryslân aspire to be the most favorable development region for Circular Economy in the Netherlands. Therefore, the municipality is lead partner in a COSME project that focuses on circular procurement by local governments: CircLocal. CircLocal aims to enhance circular public procurement through three pillars: interregional learning, action-oriented workshops and community-building. This is done by hosting two series of workshops, supported by a strong dissemination strategy.

The first three workshops will be organized interregionally, where each governmental partner can present their best practices regarding this theme to the other regions. The second series of workshops will be organized for and with local stakeholders, where each partner can translate the lessons learned from the interregional workshops to action plans for their own region. In doing so, each governmental partner will come up with a roadmap on how to increase circular public procurement, therefore boosting the circular economy and bringing Europe closer to a point where waste no longer exists!



To accelerate the energy transition and become a low-carbon municipality, Leeuwarden takes part in the Horizon2020 project PATH2LC. This project aims to achieve reduce carbon emissions in municipalities through a holistic network approach. In doing so, PATH2LC will:

  • foster exchange of existing knowledge and experiences among municipalities;
  • enhance coordination among different administrative bodies within the municipalities;
  • improve cooperation with local stakeholders and civil society and will equip stakeholders in public authorities with required planning and monitoring tools to develop and implement transition roadmaps for achieving the targets set in their respective Sustainble Energy and Climate Action Plans.

The holistic network approach intends to link stakeholders in public authorities among municipalities, enabling peer-to-peer learning and to increase the engagement for the energy and climate transition. Policy makers and public authorities at local level are supported with scientific analysis and expertise in order to understand and implement their SE(C)AP measures. Five existing networks of municipalities in Italy, Greece, Portugal, the Netherlands and France are participating in the project.