But the shipping and shipbuilding industry in western Europe began a serious decline in the 1960s and 70s, and the last major shipbuilding facility in Nantes closed in 1986.
The proud city needed a new identity in order to remain relevant. That new identity became, first, culture and then, sustainability. Today the two have come together in some highly innovative ways that have led the European Union to designate Nantes as its "Green Capital" for 2013.
The EU’s annual green designation was created by the European Commission in the last decade, with Stockholm selected as the first honoree, for 2010. The prestigious competition involves a lengthy application process and is judged on the basis of twelve overlapping environmental criteria:
Response to climate change
Urban green spaces
Nature and biodiversity
Waste reduction and management
Green municipal management
Dissemination of best practices
The 2013 award for Nantes included specific praise for the city’s efforts regarding climate, transportation, water, and biodiversity...