A green growth strategy for Belval

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Helen Mulligan
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Belval centre, with new development surrounding blast furnace

CAR worked with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to develop indicators for green growth in Belval, Luxembourg.

Luxembourg is well known for its status as a financial centre and locus for important European institutions such as the Secretariat of the European Parliament. This small but wealthy country is nonetheless affected by post-industrial decline.

Until a generation ago, iron and steel production was the major industry. Open-cast mining of iron ore continued until 1981, to supply the steelworks run by Arbed at Belval, close to the country’s second city of Esch-sur-Alzette. The company was then absorbed into the Arcelor-Mittal group and fell victim to rationalisation of the company’s global operations.

In 1997, the Belval blast furnaces ceased operation, releasing much of the steelworks site for redevelopment. Production continues with the smelting of scrap for 100% recycled steel. However, unemployment in the city rose sharply – to a level of nearly 13% (in 2012) by comparison with a national average of 4.8%.

The Luxembourg government has embarked on a green growth strategy for the old steelworks site, forming a public-private partnership to foster development and manage the transition. Key to the strategy is a high-density new quarter with a mix of residential, commercial and educational uses, well-served by public transport.

The newly founded University of Luxembourg is developing a campus there, with a Cité des Sciences to provide incubator space for start-up companies in the area of clean technology. In all, housing for 5.000 residents will be built and workplaces for 20,000 employees. The new development embraces the decommissioned blast furnaces – a sculptural centrepiece to the new urban quarter.

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