Vitoria-Gasteiz in brief
Vitoria is the capital of Spain’s Basque Autonomous Community and the largest Basque city by area. It inhabits a strategic position in a corridor between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. It has been one of the most powerful and diversified industrial areas in Spain and ranks first in Spain in terms of per capita income, with an average per capita GDP 40% higher than that of the European Union. Many international companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Michelin, Gamesa, and Aernnova have factories in Vitoria. The growth of the city, from its Medieval Quarter to its newest neighborhoods, has been directed by the signature urban planning policies of each era.
Vitoria-Gasteiz has a high proportion of green public areas (45 m² per inhabitant) and the entire population lives within 300m of open green space. The icon of Vitoria-Gasteiz is its Green Belt, a network of 5 interconnected suburban parks, which provides a smooth transition between the urban area and the rural environment. The Sustainable Mobility and Public Space Plan has improved public transport and increased pedestrian mobility and cycling. Sustainability in Vitoria-Gasteiz is much more than only the environment – it also includes variables related to social cohesion and economic sustainability as its network of community centers.
Thematic priorities for the exchange
Ecosystem services: As the European Green Capital in 2012, the city launched several projects to support municipal biodiversity and assist ecosystem services. These projects include the ‘Inner Green Belt’, a plan meant to introduce the benefits and opportunities of green infrastructure to the city by substantially changing the distribution of public spaces and urban services in a number of important streets.
Vitoria-Gasteiz is currently working to further develop its green infrastructure. As part of its Green Urban Infrastructure project, the City’s main green zones (including the Green Belt parks) are being interconnected through a tree-lined central axis. The city is also engaging in activities to increase urban biodiversity (increasing the bush stratum, creating ponds, bird refuges, etc.), improving the permeability and water drainage networks (through permeable pavements, creating rain gardens, etc.), and improving capture of CO2 and other air pollutants (with tree plantings). The City looks forward to sharing experiences with other project cities.
Low-carbon development: The Energy Agency of Vitoria-Gasteiz (AEVI), created in 2007 for the purpose of ensuring efficient energy provision for municipal services, is working to encourage the integration of guidelines for energy saving, efficiency, and sustainability in all scopes of municipal management. Vitoria-Gasteiz has implemented different renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, photovoltaical, wind, etc.) in municipal buildings. The City’s Europa Congress Centre is also currently being renovated to meet LEED Gold and Passivhaus standards. The Energy Agency is putting forward a model that is not only applicable to the municipality’s buildings but also to those of other cities. The City is interested in sharing its experiences and discussing similar projects related to low-carbon infrastructure.