UDALSAREA 2030 (Basque Country)

The Basque Country, with an area of 7,235 km2, a population of 2,193,199 and a density of 303.13 inhabitants/km2, has made significant progress in environmental matters in recent years thanks to the efforts of citizens, businesses, the civil society and the administration. Main environmental challenges in the  Basque Country include: the interconnection between public health and the environment; reconciling both climate change and the energy model; promoting a circular economy; and protecting its natural assets as a source of well-being and quality of life.

Udalsarea 2030, the Basque Network of Sustainable Municipalities, is made up mainly of municipalities and regions within the Basque Country as well as several supra-municipal entities  including the Basque Government, Provincial Councils and Eudel. The network has been a key actor in fostering local sustainability and promoting coordination between the different levels of public administration in the Basque Country. At present, 152 of the 251 Basque municipalities participate in the network, as well as 21 regional entities.

Sustainability focus: Local Transformative Action

Established on December 20, 2002, the network promotes a model of local governance, based on the evaluation and monitoring of local policies and accountability through the promotion of transversality and public participation. The network promotes local sustainability through the dynamization of the sustainability policies and action plans of the local entities that make it up, always in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Udalsarea 2030's mission is to engage the Basque municipalities and regions in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda, through transformative local action and the alignment and coherence of local and supra-municipal policies, thus contributing to the health and well-being of the population.

The large number of Local Sustainability Action Plans designed and carried out by its members to improve the quality of life of the Basque citizens is a testament to this. With an active network approach it has become a reference for Basque municipalities and entities due to its advanced and innovative services in coordination with other agents,especially in the areas of climate neutrality and resilience, soil protection and the promotion of a circular
economy. In addition, it is renowned and recognised both at a national and
European level for its more than 20 years of activity.

The need to knows

Outstanding achievements of the network:

  • 60 meetings of the Technical Committee (a permanent working group made up by the network entities, which constitutes the main forum for the communication of activities and services) held over the 20 years of the network's existence, addressing central, informative and relevant issues for its members, which have favoured the cohesion and consolidation of the human network behind the Network
  • 35 Working Groups led by local authorities, responding to specific needs associated with working areas in the municipalities - climate action, green public procurement, biodiversity, health and environmental quality, mobility, waste.
  • Generation of reference publications: more than 20 Workbooks produced by working groups, as well as reports and methodological guides, the hallmark of Udalsarea 2030. More than 50 topical Technical Conferences, on subjects such as subsidy award orders, or new legislation.
  • 66 million euros made available at local level between 2007 & 2022 to support local action on sustainability.

Remarkable impacts in terms of local action:

  • 50 municipalities in process of designing their 2030 Local Agenda.
  • 100 municipalities regularly evaluate and monitor local sustainability policies & measure their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • 25 Basque municipalities are members of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
  • 55 Basque municipalities have drawn up or already have in place Plans addressing Climate (mitigation and adaptation) and Energy.
  • 38 municipalities annually estimating GHG Emission Inventory and the Carbon Footprint of their City Council since 2016. (100 doing so since 2020).
  • 46% of tenders launched by the local councils of the Basque Country included environmental clauses. This figure rises to 57% in the case of regional entities.
  • More than 100 innovative projects implemented by Basque municipalities: 56 local entities have benefited in 12 editions of the Local Innovation Support Programme: €3,302,436 in direct funding provided by the programme, €7,500,000 mobilised.




Udalsarea 2030 has leading role and/or involvement in several of the relevant milestones on the role of municipalities in sustainable development and climate action:

  • 8th Conference of Sustainable Towns & Cities held 2016 in the Basque Country, at which the Basque Declaration was agreed and signed, a declaration endorsed by more than 955 local entities from all over Europe.
  • 10 Basque municipalities ratified their commitment to the Paris Agreement in 2015.
  • 25 municipalities members of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
  • In 2021, the Basque Country introduced the Basque Green Deal, which sets out emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2050 and the generation of renewable energy. Udalsarea 2030 projects the Basque Green Deal at local level, given its capacity to deploy initiatives and quickly reach the local sphere.
  • Vitoria-Gasteiz Green Capital 2012, celebrates ten years of this recognition, and strengthens its commitment to be a carbon neutral city by 2030. It is one of the 100 cities chosen by the EU for its Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities mission.
  • Bilbao, widely recognised internationally for its transformation from an industrial city to a city of services and culture, is today one of the best examples of urban redevelopment. In 2021, it received the EU Urban Road Safety Award from the European Commission.
  • Donostia/San Sebastián, European Capital of Culture 2016, has a long history in terms of sustainability and climate change from an integral perspective: in 2009 it approved its first Plan to combat climate change and joined the Covenant of Mayors in favour of the Climate. In 2014 it endorsed the Mayors Adapt initiative and in 2015 the Compact of Mayors. In 2019, it received the Sustainable City Award for the "Donostia adapts" project, as well as the "Innovation and Sustainability" award from the World Tourism Organization, which recognises inspirational projects that contribute to the promotion of sustainable tourism.

What the city has to say

"One of the keys to success in advancing and consolidating local sustainable development policies in the Basque Country has been the cohesion and collaborative work offered by the Udalsarea 2030 network to municipalities committed to sustainability.

The improvement that has taken place in our municipalities and regions in terms of sustainability and governance since the establishment in December 2002 of the Basque Network of Sustainable Municipalities is undeniable.

The number of municipalities committed to local sustainability through action plans brings together the majority of Basque citizens."

- Arantxa Tapia, Regional Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment of the Basque Government and President of Udalsarea 2030


Udalsarea 2030 has been a member of ICLEI since 2005. Its ICLEI Membership stands out in that as a network, it represents the municipalities that make up Udalsarea 2030, most of which, due to their size and profile, do not have the capacity to participate individually.

The Basque Country hosted the 8th European Conference of Sustainable Cities and Towns in 2016, which culminated in the adoption of the Basque Declaration was adopted. The Basque Declaration outlines new pathways for European Cities and Towns to create productive, sustainable and resilient cities for a liveable and inclusive Europe.

Ihobe, as the Technical Secretariat of Udalsarea 2030, has participated over the last few years  in the Development of the European Sustainable Cities Platform and the promotion of the annual Transformative Action Award.

In addition, the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz is a member of the European Regional Executive Committee.


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