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Arriola supports urban regeneration as an impulse for the sustainable transformation of cities

  • The Councillor announced that Abanto-Zierbena, Portugalete, Santurtzi, Valle de Trapaga, Amurrio and Orduña will soon join the five neighbourhoods currently undergoing urban regeneration projects in Bilbao, Eibar, Lasarte-Oria, Durango and Pasaia.

  • The Euskal Hiria congress, organised by the Basque Government and ONU-Habitat, today explains how European recovery funds are distributed to renovate urban areas.

  • This afternoon, the concept of the '15-minute city' will be explained how it fits in Paris or in areas of the Basque Country. Tomorrow the conference will continue, focusing on how to transform urban life in social and environmental terms.


  • Carmen Sánchez-Miranda, head of ONU-Habitat's office in Spain, insists that "the role of sub-national governments is just as important as that of the national and local levels".


The Basque Country has been holding the Euskal Hiria congress for 20 years. Thanks to continuous reflection and planned actions, the Basque Country has anticipated the need for improvements in its cities and rural areas. But there is still a long way to go. This was stated by Iñaki Arriola, Councillor for Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport of the Basque Government, at the opening of this twentieth edition of the main annual event of the sector in the Basque Country. The head of the Spanish office of ONU-Habitat, Carmen Sánchez-Miranda, also took part in the inauguration.

Both institutions are organising this congress, which today and tomorrow will host 200 experts from the European, national, regional and local levels in a hybrid format, in person and online. Councillor Arriola encouraged us to "consider promoting new urban planning models that allow the different fabrics that make up our cities to coexist and improve their interrelationship with the rural and natural environment, through a new configuration and use of public spaces and a new mobility".

To achieve this, the Basque Country has equipped itself with a fundamental tool: the Bultzatu 2050 Urban Agenda, one of the first to be developed at regional level and which is coordinated with the United Nations New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In this sense, Iñaki Arriola mentioned urban regeneration as a way of achieving "the transformation of cities towards fairer and more sustainable cities". The Basque Country already has several experiences in this area, which involves not only the rehabilitation of buildings, the improvement of energy efficiency and the accessibility of housing, but with a broader sense and consequences in social, economic, environmental and governance aspects.

Pilot projects have been launched in vulnerable neighbourhoods in Bilbao and Eibar (the Opengela project, financed by the European Commission), which are being replicated in Lasarte-Oria, Durango and Pasaia. Furthermore, as the councillor announced, "the experience acquired will allow us to incorporate actions in six other municipalities: Abanto-Zierbena, Portugalete, Santurtzi, the Trapaga Valley, Amurrio and Orduña.

The head of the ONU-Habitat Spain office, Carmen Sánchez-Miranda, emphasised that "if the Sustainable Development Goals are the What, the urban agendas are the How. ONU-Habitat has been following the Basque Agenda Bultzatu 2050 since its conception, convinced that the territorial level is a key level in the processes of implementation, coordination and promotion of effective governance, and that the role of subnational governments is just as important as that of the national and local levels in this regard".

The head of UN-Habitat in Spain added that "the way in which towns and cities recover from the pandemic will have a major impact on global efforts to achieve a sustainable future for all (...) the Sustainable Development Goals are precisely the articulating rails capable of ensuring that the short lights of emergency are aligned with the long lights of development".

Euskal Hiria offers a contrast between experiences at a more local level and others at a global level. This was the case in the opening session, given by Sara de la Rica, Professor of Economics at the UPV/EHU. Katja Schäfer, interregional advisor for ONU-Habitat, also spoke about her experience as an urban planner in places as complex as Somalia and Yemen, as well as the Arab region and failed states.

In addition, the congress is learning about the keys to recovery funds related to urban regeneration, with the participation of Valentina Corsetti, programme manager of the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission for Spain and Portugal, as well as David Lucas, Secretary General for the Urban Agenda and Housing of the Spanish Government, and the Deputy Minister for Territorial Planning and the Urban Agenda, Miguel de los Toyos, among others.

This afternoon, the concept of 'the 15-minute city' will be discussed in depth by one of the world's leading experts: Carlos Moreno, scientific director of the Chair of Entrepreneurship, Territory and Innovation at the IAE Paris-Sorbonne. He will be joined at the round table by six other specialists.

Tomorrow, plans for the Basque coastline and Metropolitan Bilbao

Tomorrow's session will be opened by Joan Clos, former director of UN-Habitat and former mayor of Barcelona. He will give way to two sessions in which he will talk about how to transform the city in social and environmental terms.

The keys to the Sectorial Territorial Plan (PTS) for the protection of the coastline of the Basque Country will be presented, as well as the Partial Territorial Plan (PTP) for Metropolitan Bilbao, which will mark the future for the next 20 years of this area, which covers 35 municipalities and almost half of the Basque population. The future of the plans for Central Alava and Rioja Alavesa will also be discussed. The congress will be brought to a close by the head of ONU-Habitat's Urban Practices Branch, Shipra Narang Suri.

The Programme is being prepared