Urban Klima 2050 reports on the progress of its climate actions to the European Commission in Álava


The CINEA Project Officer and the ELMEN monitor – the LIFE programme technical assistance team – have visited the Basque Country on 20 and 21 February to learn about the progress after the completion of Phase II of the project.

Along with the project partners, they have visited the rewilding project at the Júndiz industrial estate in Vitoria-Gasteiz, and the Basaldea seedbed for horticultural companies. 

The LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 project is the Basque Country’s largest climate action project up to 2025 with more than twenty entities involved and with a budget of €19.8 million, 51% financed by the European Union.

Now that Phase II of the project has been completed, the European Commission's CINEA Project Officer and the ELMEN monitor have visited LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 on 20 and 21 February to monitor the LIFE programme. Over the two days, they have been able to see for themselves the progress made during the last year and the future climate action planned in the Basque Country. The meeting has taken place in Vitoria-Gasteiz with the 22 partners participating in the project led by Ihobe, the Basque Government's public environmental management company. In addition, the CINEA Project Advisor and the ELMEN monitor have also had the opportunity to learn about some of the actions being carried out in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

On Tuesday 20 February, the visit began with an information session at the Europa Conference Centre in Vitoria-Gasteiz.  During the presentation, Alexander Boto, the Ihobe General Manager, stressed the importance of the LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 project, which he defined as a "transformative climate action project that will allow the Basque Country to take part in such important European programmes as Regions4Climate". Aitor Zulueta, Director of Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council's Environmental Studies Centre, went on to stress the importance of local governments in climate action "to address the challenges of climate change both from the environmental and social perspectives".

On the other hand, the Urban Klima 2050 coordinator team went over the climate policies deployed by the Basque Country in recent years; special focus was given to the recently passed Energy Transition and Climate Change Act which establishes the stable legal framework to reach climate neutrality in the Basque Country by 2050 at the latest, while making the necessary efforts to achieve that neutrality by 2045.

Urban Klima 2050 Progress

During the morning sessions, representatives of the project's partners likewise explained the progress achieved during the last year; advances such as the municipal intervention actions in the three Basque capitals with the application of nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation in urban landscapes by means of innovative tools and methodologies. Those actions have led to the rewilding of Punta Zorroza (Bilbao), Green Anoeta (Donostia/San Sebastián), or the old quarter and several school playgrounds in Vitoria-Gasteiz. 

The provincial interventions in Gipuzkoa, with the setting up of a green infrastructure network to make the natural systems more resilient, were then showcased. They also explained the renewable energy actions with two photovoltaic solar self-consumption projects on the roof of Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) and in Donostia/San Sebastián.

As regards the river basin interventions, details were given on the progress along the River Estepona in Bakio, where the implementation of nature-based solutions will allow an urban marsh and a floodable wood.   They also reported on the forest restoration along the Nervión, Ebro and Zadorra rivers in Álava, along with the monitoring of the Legaire beech grove, which is also in Álava.

Furthermore, the urban coast adaptation measures – including installing video-surveillance systems, improvements to the metering network, forecasting systems, and monitoring and decision-making tools to address the risks of climate change – were presented.

Details were then given of the citizen empowerment actions that seek to encourage everyone to engage with the climate challenge.  Accordingly, Urban Klima 2050 has been the opportunity for different activities to be organised, such as work sessions for municipal employees when barriers and levers for climate actions were identified; recreational activities for the general public have been organised, such as the ASTEKLIMA Azoka travelling fair, which managed to engage over 1,7000 people with the climate change challenge; work is underway to launch a citizen science platform to help understand the climate change phenomenon and allows the public to be involved in researching their consequences.

The session ended by going over the measures implemented to bolster the technical skill-sets and training in climate change in local authorities in order to foster political commitment for Basque municipalities to progress towards climate neutrality and territorial resilience.

Visit to Mendebaldea and Basaldea

The sessions will continue in the afternoon with the visit to two projects underway in Vitoria-Gasteiz. The delegation will first visit Júndiz industrial estate, where Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council – through the Environmental Studies Centre – is implementing the Mendebaldea project; its goal is to achieve the landscape and environment restoration of the surroundings of this industrial estate, by creating a new park as an extension of the Green Belt.    The aim is thus, on the one hand, to foster the ecological connectivity between the Montes de Vitoria mountain range and the River Zadorra; and, on the other hand, to increase the sustainability of the territory to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The following stop will be at the Basaldea municipal seedbed for organic horticultural ventures, which focuses on promoting local and organic farming. The measures implemented by the Environmental Studies Centre and Neiker seek to increase the local agricultural biodiversity to improve crop production there. Specifically, different trees and shrubs are planted on the farm boundaries as biodiversity refuges and to create a barrier effect; a wild-flower meadow has been planted to attract pollinators; and an old trough resorted.

A technical session at the Ihobe offices in Bilbao will be held on the second day, tomorrow Wednesday 21 February.

About LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050

The Basque Country's largest climate action projects has a budget of €19.8 million; it will transform the Basque territory by means of coordinating a total of 40 climate change mitigation and adaptation actions between 2019 and 2025. 

Urban Klima 2050 is led by Ihobe, the environmental management agency of the Basque Government’s Ministry of Economic Development Sustainability and the Environment. It is working with 22 partners, including two other Basque Government areas (its Ministry of Health and the Directorate of Ports and Maritime Affairs), the three provincial governments, the local councils of Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Donostia/San Sebastián, Bakio, Bermeo, Gernika-Lumo and Zarautz, two publicly-owned companies of the Basque Government (EVE, BEC Solar, CADEM and URA), along with research and technology centres (AZTI, BC3, Neiker, Tecnalia and Tecnun) and the Naturklima Foundation.