RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao

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www.resin-cities.eu
RESIN
City Assessment Report
Bilbao
Work Package 4
Dissemination Level PU
Lead Partner ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
Due Date 29 February 2016
Submission Date 29 February 2016
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 2
Deliverable No. D4.1
Work Package 4
Dissemination Level PU
Author Alice Reil | ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
Co-authors
Estibaliz Sanz Gogeaskoetxea, Susana Ruiz and Nerea Tirado | City of Bilbao
Marta Olazabal | Basque Centre of Climate Change – BC3
Maddalen Mendizabal and Gemma Garcia | Tecnalia
Date 29 February 2016
File Name D4.1_ City Assessment Report Bilbao_ICLEI_2016-02-29
Status Revised
Revision Completed
Reviewed by
Eric Luiijf and Martijn Neef | TNO
Estibaliz Sanz Gogeaskoetxea and Susana Ruiz | City of Bilbao
Marta Olazabal | Basque Centre of Climate Change – BC3
Maddalen Mendizabal and Gemma Garcia | Tecnalia
Clara Grimes | ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
This document has been prepared in the framework of the European project RESIN – Climate Resilient Cities and
Infrastructures. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation
programme under grant agreement no. 653522.
The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. It does not necessarily represent the
opinion of the European Union. Neither the EASME nor the European Commission are responsible for any use that
may be made of the information contained therein.
CONTACT:
Email: resin@tno.nl
Website: www.resin-cities.eu This project is funded by the Horizon 2020
Framework Programme
of the European Union.
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 3
Executive Summary .................................................................................................... 5
1 Introduction ......................................................................................................... 6
2 Bilbao and its features ........................................................................................ 6
2.1 Demographic development ................................................................................ 6
2.2 Housing need ...................................................................................................... 8
2.3 Economic state .................................................................................................... 9
2.4 Mobility .............................................................................................................. 10
2.5 Other critical infrastructure features ............................................................... 11
Water Supply .............................................................................................................. 12
Municipal Sanitation Network ................................................................................... 12
Waste Disposal Site “Zabalgarbi” ............................................................................ 13
Transport .................................................................................................................... 14
Energy 16
3 State of adaptation and infrastructure protection plans and activities in
Bilbao ................................................................................................................. 17
3.1 Baseline information and data to formulate plans and strategies ................ 17
3.2 Existing plans and targets for climate change adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection in Bilbao .................................................................. 20
Zorrotzaurre Master Plan .......................................................................................... 21
Bilbao Emergency Plan ............................................................................................. 22
3.3 Actors active in and relevant for CCA planning and CI protection ............... 23
Actors within the local government – Making CCA a political priority ................. 23
Actors in Bilbao and its agglomeration – Joining forces on the ground .............. 24
3.4 Political commitment and decision-making for adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection .................................................................................. 25
3.5 Legal framework for planning and implementation ....................................... 26
3.6 Financial framework for planning .................................................................... 26
3.7 Communication throughout planning processes .......................................... 26
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 4
4 Implementation of adaptation and critical infrastructure protection
measures ........................................................................................................... 27
4.1 Financial framework and incentives for implementing measures ................ 27
4.2 Communication and evaluation of the implementation processes .............. 28
5 Bilbao’s challenges, opportunities and achievements in adapting to climate
change impacts and protecting its critical infrastructure ............................. 29
6 Bilbao’s needs for adapting to climate change impacts and protecting
(critical) infrastructure ...................................................................................... 31
References ................................................................................................................. 34
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 5
Executive Summary
RESIN is a 3.5-year EU-funded interdisciplinary research project investigating climate resilience in
European cities that launched on 6 May 2015. The project combines existing approaches to climate
change adaptation and disaster risk assessment to develop guidelines and tools to support cities in
adapting to a changing climate.
Four city assessment reports written on the RESIN cities Bratislava, Bilbao, Greater Manchester and
Paris will allow the cities as well as RESIN project partners to assess, which adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection strategies, plans and measures are already in place or planned. It will also
enable a better understanding of the options and decision-support tools and products that may best be
suited to the specific local context of each of these four European cities and which of them might best
be tested within the course of the project. It will also enable the local government, the stakeholders in
the cities as well as the RESIN partners to better understand each city’s needs in the adaptation and
critical infrastructure protection process.
In this report, the general and more detailed features of the City of Bilbao are presented to showcase
the context in which the local government can and does act in light of current and future climate change
impacts. The reader gains insight into the demographic development of the city, its economic state,
housing situation and its critical infrastructure characteristics (e.g., water supply, waste disposal,
electricity). The information that is currently available – and necessary to understand and deal with the
risks the city may be facing – will also be listed. Being aware of this, the reader is introduced to the City
of Bilbao’s plans and targets it has set itself to adapt to climate change and protect its critical
infrastructure. It will also become clear, which stakeholders are currently involved and can push these
issues forward. The city’s political commitment as well as its legal and financial frameworks, which
frame the city’s planning activities are explained in detail thereafter. The reader is then presented with
the actual measures the city as well as other stakeholders are already implementing. To conclude, the
city’s challenges, opportunities and achievements when it comes to adapting to climate change and
protecting its critical infrastructure are highlighted. The city’s needs to keep on adapting to climate
change and safeguard its critical infrastructure are summarised at the end.
The reader will thus gain a comprehensive understanding of where the City of Bilbao is at currently,
where it plans to head to and the context from where it is starting to adapt to climate change and protect
its critical infrastructure.
For more information on the project partners, background and aims, please visit http://www.resincities.eu/
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 6
1 Introduction
Bilbao, the capital city of the province of Biscay in the Basque Country in the north of Spain, is a port
city spread across 40.65 km2. The city lies along a 16-kilometre-long estuary, embedded between two
mountain ranges to the north-east and south. As the sea is not far away, Bilbao’s climate is rather
maritime with the tides still reaching the city. Bilbao may therefore be significantly affected by a
changing climate.
This report will shed light on Bilbao’s current features and future developments and how they are linked
to and thus may be impacted by climate change. The reader will also get a brief overview of the plans
and strategies in place that support adaptation efforts. Not only will the challenges the city is facing in
adapting to climate change and protecting its critical infrastructure be summarized, the opportunities
that lie within these changes will also be spotlighted. The report will summarise the challenges the city
faces in adapting to climate change and protecting its critical infrastructure and will also highlight the
opportunities these changes present.
The objectives of this report are to inform the decision-makers and planners of the local government on
the existing data and information available to understand the impact a changing climate may have on
Bilbao, the current plans in place, which solely or partly cover the field of adaptation and infrastructure
protection, the challenges and opportunities the city is facing to better adapt and protect its critical
infrastructure, and its need to better adapt and become more resilient overall.
The information collected for this report was provided by the RESIN partners of the City of Bilbao,
mainly by the Department for Environment and the Department of Urban Planning, in collaboration with
the RESIN partners at Tecnalia and BC3. The report itself was written by the RESIN partners at ICLEI –
Local Governments for Sustainability in cooperation with the City of Bilbao.
2 Bilbao and its features
Bilbao has transformed immensely over the last few decades. This section outlines the social and
economic changes as well as those in the housing and transport sector to illustrate how the city got
where it is today. This information is also important to better understand where Bilbao’s strengths and
potential weaknesses may be in protecting its critical infrastructure as well as the city’s ability to
withstand and adapt to the effects of climate change.
2.1 Demographic development
Once a major industrial hub throughout northern Spain, Bilbao has had to deal with a declining
population for the past two decades after an economic downturn led people to seek a new livelihood in
other parts of the country or even Europe. Today, the city has a population of around 343,234
inhabitants, whilst the agglomeration is more than double the size with approximately 859,907(2015)
1
.
The city is divided into eight districts (cf. Fig. 1), which again are sub-divided into overall 39
neighbourhoods.
1
http://www.eustat.eus/elementos/ele0011400/ti_poblacion-de-la-ca-de-euskadi-por-ambitos-territoriales-segunlugar-de-nacimiento/tbl0011425_c.html#axzz41AMQOVC9
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 7
Fig. 1: Map of districts of Bilbao (Department of Territory, Municipality of Bilbao, 2015)
Forecasts suggest that the city of Bilbao will continue to lose inhabitants, leading to around 322,000
inhabitants in 2030. Bilbao will not only have to deal with a smaller population, but their average age will
also increase – similarly to most other cities across Europe. The majority of people in Bilbao are
between 45 to 64 years old. While the number of young people is already smaller and decreasing with a
birth rate of 0.77%, the number of elderly people over 65 years old is increasing. The death rate is
already at 10% and one in five people is older than 65 years old
2
. The elderly, who are more likely to be
2
Demografía y diferenciación socioespacial en Bilbao (2011), Estudios previos diagnósticos para el Plan General.
Dpto. de Economía Aplicada I, UPV-EHU.
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 8
frail or have health issues, are far more vulnerable to extreme weather events, particularly heat waves.
As there are also differences in the spatial distribution of the elderly across Bilbao, some
neighbourhoods may be even more vulnerable than others merely from the perspective of the wellbeing and agility of their people.
The number of people with a migrant background also varies across the city. 7.5% of Bilbao’s
population have a migrant background. The main countries of origin are Bolivia, Colombia, Romania,
Morocco and Ecuador
3
. Whilst many migrants also have Spanish as a mother tongue, which makes it
easy for the local government to communicate their adaptation plans to these communities, it is
important to involve them in developing and implementing these plans. Tailored awareness raising
campaigns might be worthwhile considering, particularly if the districts they live in are the poorest,
exposed to impacts (e.g., along the riverside or in the hillsides) and thus vulnerable to climate change
impacts.
Bilbao as RESIN partner has already identified its most vulnerable groups of society. The most relevant
impacts of climate change – heat, flooding and extreme weather events – affect children, the elderly,
people with disabilities and low-income families the most. They do not have the means – physically,
health-wise or economically – to sufficiently withstand these impacts. Yet, whilst these groups have
been identified, there is further need to assess the extent of their vulnerability, their location in the city
and agglomeration and the factors that enable and hinder them the most in becoming more resilient
against increased climate risks.
2.2 Housing need
Although the number of people is declining within the city, there is still a high demand for housing space
as most people from the metropolitan area wish to live in the city. More than 13.700 new housing units
are therefore currently being planned in the city
4
.
To be able to deal with this housing pressure and protect these new housing units and the respective
infrastructure around them from climate-related risks, the location of these new developments needs
careful decision-making. Spatial analyses of climate change impacts may lend support in making the
right decision. The city department for urban development still needs to issue such analyses and work
closely together with the Basque Water Agency, which has shown an increasing interest in including the
effects on climate change in its hydrological planning. In fact, the agency has produced river flood risk
maps (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) for the estuary of Bilbao in the framework of the European Commission funded
FP7 project Econadapt.
3
Demografía y diferenciación socioespacial en Bilbao (2011), Estudios previos diagnósticos para el Plan General.
Dpto. de Economía Aplicada I, UPV-EHU.
4
Advance of Bilbao Urban planning. Urban Planning Office of . Bilbao City Council (2016).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 9
Fig. 2: Areas prone to flooding (from the Territorial Plan for Rivers and Streams, Basque Government, 2000)
2.3 Economic state
Climate change impacts can easily disrupt a city’s economy. The local government of Bilbao therefore
needs to help protect the infrastructure its economy relies on for the production and the provision of
services to counteract any damages and losses.
This is particularly relevant as over the past decades, Bilbao’s economy has found strength again.
Today, the service sector (87.6%) dominates the local economy, whilst the industrial (6.9%), building
(5.4%) and agricultural sectors (0.1%) have suffered losses in contributing to the city’s annual Gross
Value Added (2012). In 2012 the GDP per capita amounted to EUR 30,889 (2014). Yet, most of the
service sector predominately relies on trade and repairs services (24%), followed by professional,
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 10
scientific and technical services (18%) and education services (18%) (EUSTAT, 2012)
5
. Many of these
activities are based on knowledge and are mainly located in the city centre
6.
Fig. 3: Contributions per economics sectors in Bilbao (EUSTAT, 2012)
The number of gainfully employed in Bilbao ranges around 45.72% – a number which is still recovering
from the industrial downturn from the 1980s onwards (the percentage of unemployed Bilbao residents’
in Bilbao in 2014 lies at 14.02%). The manufacturing and construction sector are still the second and
third biggest employing sector (ca. 24,000 in total) after the commerce, transport and logistics services
sector (ca. 34,000 in total). Bilbao’s transformation has also lead to more than 10,000 locals being
employed in the tourism, hotel and catering services sector
7
.
The average income of a family in Bilbao is approximately EUR 40,806 (2014). The average monthly
mean income is EUR 3,157 (2013)
8
. The local government needs to keep this number in mind as lowincome families, which are also affected by family members becoming unemployed, may become even
more vulnerable to climate risk.
2.4 Mobility
Bilbao’s local government has introduced a number of activities to encourage its citizens to switch to
more sustainable modes of transport over the past few years. Within the city centre, most people get
around on foot (64%), whilst others opt for public transport (24%) or private cars (12%)
9
.
Still, there has been an increase of around 10,000 each of motorised vehicles and public transport
5
http://www.eustat.eus/estadisticas/opt_0/id_13/subarbol.html#axzz41B22lz6r
6
Plan de indicadores de sostenibilidad urbana. Agencia del Ecología urbana de Barcelona 2012.
7
http://www.eustat.eus/estadisticas/opt_0/id_10/subarbol.html#axzz41B2cSmv7
8
http://www.eustat.eus/elementos/ele0011100/ti_producto-interior-bruto-pib-per-capita-de-la-ca-de-euskadi-porambitos-territoriales-precios-corrientes-euros/tbl0011123_c.html#axzz41B2OIXUP
9
Estudio de Movilidad en Bilbao . Departamento de Circulación y Transportes. Ayuntamiento de Bilbao (2011).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 11
between 2004 and 2008; a drastic increase to which the administration has had to respond. They have
done so by defining measures in the city’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) such as the
extension of the tram and underground lines in the city, limiting the speed to 30 km/h in some areas and
promoting the use of bicycles throughout Bilbao. While a further increase is probable, no data has yet
been collected. At the same time in 2014 the number of bicycle loans amounted to 285,000 whilst the
users of the city’s public bicycle loaning scheme lay at over 18,000. Promoting climate compatible and
friendly transportation modes could help Bilbao to mitigate climate change SEAP (Sustainable energy
action plan of Bilbao 2020 approved in 2012).
2.5 Other critical infrastructure features
The transport and housing sector can be considered to be critical infrastructure. The Spanish set of
critical infrastructure includes, amongst others, water and wastewater, energy, IT, food or even the
financial sector.
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 12
Spain’s national infrastructure is currently categorised into twelve critical sectors (CNPIC, n.d.):
1. Administration
2. Chemical Industry
3. Energy
4. Financial and Tax System
5. Food Supply Chain
6. Health
7. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
8. Nuclear Industry
9. Research Laboratories
10. Space
11. Transport
12. Water
In order to be able to assess the state of these infrastructures, the city of Bilbao still needs to define
what it considers as its ‘critical infrastructure’. To then be able to establish how vulnerable these sectors
are towards climate change impacts, the city of Bilbao may want to compile its partial vulnerability
assessments and exposure maps and conduct an overall assessment of its entire critical infrastructure.
This would provide the local decision-makers and planners with data on which they could make
decisions and design plans or strategies for protection and adaptation. So far aspects concerning critical
infrastructure have partially been considered in plans dealing with other issues such as in the plan for
new neighbourhood of Zorrotzaurre, which is about to be developed, and the Bilbao Emergency Plan.
The current state of some of Bilbao’s basic infrastructure is sketched out as follows. To what extent this
infrastructure is critical needs to be defined by the city’s administration:
Water Supply
The water supply of the metropolitan area is set out in the North Hydrological Plan, which was prepared
by the North Hydrographic Confederation. The confederation is managed by the Bilbao Bizkaia Water
Consortium.
Bilbao has a complex water supply system, which is fed by the Zadorra as well as the Ordunte system.
Another water reserve is the Zollo dam. In times of extreme drought other sources, particularly spring
water, are used. Yet, the North Water Plan includes new measures such as the construction of dams
(Herrerias and Altube) in two tributaries of the Nervión and Kadagua.
The city thoroughly measures and controls its water quality. Daily samples from the supply system
across town as well as inspections and tests at the consumer side contribute to Bilbao’s satisfactory
quality of drinking water. It also means the city has an effective system of preventive monitoring.
Municipal Sanitation Network
In the seventies the high water pollution was one of Bilbao’s the main problems. This pollution was
mainly due to the uncontrolled dumping (both industrial and domestic). In response to this situation,
Bilbao launched the Integral Sewerage Plan for the Bilbao Metropolitan Area in the mid-seventies. Thus,
after 25 years of work and the investment of EUR 600 million, the city has minimised the effects of
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 13
sewage pollution stemming from the metropolitan area (internal city council information). This complex
sewerage system serves nearly the entire population of the city – fewer than one thousand people
remain to be connected to the integrated sanitation system.
The Department of Public Works of Bilbao has conducted an assessment of both the supply and
sewerage systems. This analysis led to the proposal of a renovation plan for both systems. Currently,
the city uses a GIS which allows the Public Works Department to get current information about the
breakdowns and incidents in the city and to localise leaks.
Since 2000, it has invested more than EUR 54 million in works: EUR 28.3 million went into improving
71% of the supply networks. The sewerage system was improved with an investment of EUR 25.6
million to replace 25 kilometres of sewerage network, i.e. 3.9% of the overall network (internal city
council information).
Waste Disposal Site “Zabalgarbi”
The company running the Zabalgarbi disposal site manages a solid waste–to-energy plant and also
houses a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant, a composting plant, a landfill and a leachate
treatment plant.
During construction of the first plant, Zabalgarbi regenerated and recovered the entire Artigas-Arraiz
Special Plan area covering 108 hectares. The land was degraded by shaft mining activity and an opencast quarry. Today the area has been reforested, trails were built and space provided for people to
enjoy themselves in gardens, picnic areas and along forest tracks.
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 14
Fig. 4: Water supply and sewerage network (red lines represent the municipal network; blue lines the network of
the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium) and waste disposal site “Zabalgarbi” (red area at left) (Town Planning Office,
Municipality of Bilbao, 2015)
Transport
The model of the road network is designed as a functional radial access, a major road surrounding the
city. This main structure distributes the traffic flows throughout the city in different levels (regional,
national and international).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 15
Fig. 5: Road network of the City of Bilbao (IDOM Engineers for the Town Planning Office, 2013)
In the municipality of Bilbao there are four rail operators: two managed by the Spanish Government
(RENFE and FEVE) and two by the regional Government (Metro Bilbao, Eusko Tram, Eusko Tren).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 16
Fig. 6: Rail network of the City of Bilbao (IDOM Engineers for the Town Planning Office, 2013)
Energy
Responsibility for the city’s energy infrastructure does not lie with the local authority. Renewables only
cover 2 % of the total energy demand (Basque Government, 2013). The rest of the energy (i.e.
electricity and gas) is supplied by private energy utilities which have a share in renewable energy
production at the national level. The energy company that supplies most households in the city is
Iberdrola S.A., which is also the company that is in charge of the energy services of the city.
The Public Works and Services Department of the City Council is responsible for the energy
management of the city. While the Urban Planning Department is not currently involved in developing
the city energy strategy, they are incorporating energy indicators into the New Urban Master Plan
(Olazabal, 2014).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 17
3 State of adaptation and infrastructure
protection plans and activities in Bilbao
The city of Bilbao has already been affected by climate change and will continue to be in the future. The
city has intensified and promoted the steps it has been taking to adapt to these changes. There are no
efforts uniquely tailored towards protecting its critical infrastructure, but means to do so are integrated
into other plans.
3.1 Baseline information and data to formulate plans and strategies
To be able to develop informed plans, a city needs to have a basic understanding of the status and
development of its urban environment, the (potential) impacts of a changing climate and the vulnerability
of its critical infrastructure. One way of appraising the situation is by means of a city-wide assessment of
climate risks and vulnerabilities. While the local government of Bilbao has not yet conducted a complete
risk and vulnerability assessment, it can draw on climate-related information from a handful of recent
projects, studies and assessments. Amongst them are:
 Assessment of the urban heat island effect
10
: The urban heat island effect of Bilbao was
modelled using the UrbClim tool on the scale of an urban agglomeration and its nearby
surroundings and the Enviro-HIRLAM model (at micro-scale model). Another report investigated
the impact of climate change on atmospheric pollution
11
. Focusing on the urban area of Bilbao,
and on the harmful pollutant PM10 (particulate matter), we developed a statistical scheme linking
PM10 concentrations to climatic parameters readily available in climate projections. Once
established for present-day conditions, these relations were applied to output from an ensemble
of regional climate simulation results.
 Design solutions for Urban Heat Island mitigation in the City of Bilbao
12
: This study presents
the results of a heat wave analysis in the city as part of the project in which as connection
between the green belt and the city parts would lead to the reduction of the heat wave risk in
Bilbao. Evaluations of wind behaviour through diverging temperatures as well as human comfort
and heat stress in the urban areas of Bilbao were also undertaken. In addition, recommendations
and design solutions for areas affected by the UHI effect as well as general guidelines on how to
integrate the findings into the Bilbao master plan were given.
 Policy and decision context of case studies
13
: This document describes the contexts of the
Vltava and Bilbao case studies, dedicating particular attention to the areas of policy and of
10
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project RAMSES and authored by VITO and Tecnalia
as D4.1 “Validation of agglomeration-scale climate projections” (2014).
11
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project RAMSES and authored by VITO and Tecnalia
as D4.2 “Agglomeration-scale urban climate and air quality projections” (2015).
12
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project RAMSES and authored by NTNU and Tecnalia
(2014).
13
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project ECONADAPT and authored by Paolo
Scussolini (VUA), Kateřina Kaprová and Jan Melichar (CUNI), Elisa Sainz de Murieta (BC3), Ibon Galarraga (BC3),
Manuel Lago, Josselin Rouillard; Jenny Troeltzsch (ECOLOGIC INSTITUTE)
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 18
decision-making. For each case study the report presented the information about the geo-socioeconomic context of each of the city’s countries in general as well as the context at the local level
(e.g., main issues, general and detailed research goals, policy and regulatory context as well as
stakeholder constellations).
 Description of adaptation options and their costs and benefits
14
: This document contains a
general catalogue of options for adaptation to an increasing flood-risk, presents the
methodological approach to the cost-and-benefit analysis and examines adaptation measures
that are currently in place or planned for the future for the two case studies in the Vltava river
basin and the city of Bilbao.
 Analysis of effectiveness of measures against the urban heat island effect
15
: The
effectiveness of a number of measures was assessed via the Envimet tool. This report contains
the results of advanced numerical modelling and on-site measurements of the impacts of climate
change adaptation on the urban climate.
 Adaptation to Urban Floods by Planning and Design. Guidelines for an Adaptive
Management to Urban Floods and Stormwater Use. A Case Study of the City of Bilbao
16
:
The study proposes a set of adaptive strategies and design solutions to manage floods and storm
water in Bilbao from the perspective of an architect and urban planner to minimise the effects of
the extreme precipitation and adapt to new climatic conditions while maximising the opportunities.
 Climate change impacts of coastal and pelagic environments in the south-eastern Bay of
Biscay
17
: The analysis on the current sea level rise in the Bay of Biscay also indicates the
situation in Bilbao and includes an increase in temperature accompanied by more frequent heat
wave episodes, more intense and extreme daily rainfall as well as sea level rise.
 Review of climate change losses and adaptation costs for case studies
18
: The aim of this
report is to provide an overview of climate change losses and adaptation costs in cities,
particularly in the RAMSES case study cities in Bilbao as well as London, Antwerp, Bogota,
Hyderabad, Rio de Janeiro and New York.
 Analytical framework of the decision-making process on adaptation
19
: The objective of this
report was to provide an analytical framework to apprehend adaptation strategies implemented by
cities, through at least four RAMSES city case studies - Bilbao, Bogotá, New York and Rio de
Janeiro. The development of a framework was the first step in the analysis of the decision-making
processes on adaptation, which will look at the diversity of the protagonists, their rationality, and
14
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project ECONADAPT and authored by Paolo
Scussolini (VUA), Kateřina Kaprová and Jan Melichar (CUNI), Elisa Sainz de Murieta (BC3), Alina Tepes (BC3),
Ibon Galarraga (BC3), Josselin Rouillard, Jenny Troeltzsch and Manuel Lago (ECOLOGIC INSTITUT)
15
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project RAMSES and authored by NTNU and Tecnalia
as D4.3 “Urban Adaptation effects on Urban Climate” (2016).
16
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project RAMSES and authored by NTNU (2014).
17
Published by AZTI Tecnalia (2011).
18
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project RAMSES and authored by LSE & SENECA as
D5.1 (2014).
19
Published within the European Commission financed FP7 project RAMSES and authored by UVSQ as D7.1
(2014).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 19
the elements that structure their behaviour.
 Other research studies done are by the Basque Water Agency (URA) information on current river
flood risks
20
as well as BC3 on flood damages and costs of opening the Deusto canal
21
.
Research results from the EU-funded project RAMSES, a project aimed at delivering quantified
evidence of the impacts of climate change and the costs and benefits of a range of adaptation
measures in, have shown that the main local climate risk factors are river and pluvial flooding (by far the
most relevant risk), sea level rise, air pollution and heat waves.
River and pluvial flooding: Over the last six centuries Bilbao has been affected by 39 floods. Most of
them occurred at the end of the 19th century as the river was reshaped and channelled. After those
works finished the floods became less at the beginning of the last century. But a sprawling and more
densely populated city, expanding industrial sites across the agglomeration and throughout the Nerbioi
valley as well as insufficient dredging and maintenance works of the estuary led the floods to return
from the 1950s onwards.
22
Today, flooding is still the most common threat in Nerbioi valley, where
Bilbao lies. A number of contributors are inadequate forest management, intensive cattle raising,
damaging recreational practices – all three of which intensify erosion in the area – and Bilbao’s urban
sprawl. Based on regional climate models predicting a 10% increase in extreme participation events
across the Basque Country, the flooding threat will likely be aggravated. It was also estimated that the
peak flow of the Nerbioi River in 2050 will have risen by 22%, which in turn could mean that the area at
risk of flooding may expand by 3% (Mendizabal et al., 2013). While this figure sounds minor, it can have
disastrous effects on adjacent housing, industrial areas and agricultural land. The costs incurred by the
heightened flood risk of the metropolitan area of Bilbao may rise even more steeply by 56.4% in
comparison to scenarios, which do not take account of climate change impacts (IHOBE, 2007).
Sea level rise: A rising sea level accompanied by higher tides will aggravate the flooding potential along
the estuary with all the above mentioned consequences (Basque Government, 2011).
Air pollution: Air quality is the responsibility of the Basque Government, so that historical data is
published and available on its website.
There are five information panels about air quality in the main entrances to the city:
 Juan de Garay
 Avenida Sabino Arana
 Rotonda del Euskalduna
 Puente de la Salve
 Rotonda Pío X
20
See cartography in http://www.geo.euskadi.eus/s69aguas/es?r01kQry=tC:euskadi;tF:opendata;tT:ds_geograficos;cA:r01epd011efe71175952314cdc3cb053e6d4aabce
;pp:r01PageSize.50;p:Inter_portal,Inter
21
Published by BC3 and authored by Osés Eraso, N., Foudi, S., Galarraga, I. (2012)
22
Published by EU RAMSES project, NTNU “Adaptation to urban flood by planning and design (2014).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 20
Based on projections of the concentration of pollutant PM10 for Bilbao, it was found that towards the end
of the century, when considering the effect of climate change alone (i.e. assuming no changes in the
emissions), PM10 concentrations are expected to rise by approximately 0.3 µg m
-3
during the summer,
and to decrease by 1.1 µg m
-3
during winter. The results indicate that climate change could have
substantial effects on air quality in urban areas and as a consequence on human health, agriculture,
and natural ecosystems. Changes in local climatic variables such as temperature, radiation, specific
humidity, wind patterns and precipitation affect the different components of the pollutant life cycle and
therefore affect the pollutant concentration (RAMSES D4.2).
Heat waves: The average temperatures during the summer months as well as winter seasons are
forecasted to increase. In winter the increase will be starker with 1.1 ºC during 2020-2050 and 2.5 ºC in
2070-2100. Summer temperature increases during the same periods will lie around 0.7°C and 1.6°C
respectively in comparison to today’s situation (Gonzalez-Aparicio, 2013).
In addition to all of the abovementioned studies and forecasts, which were designed and completed by
third parties, the municipality of Bilbao has defined and mapped its emergency response procedures
and responsibilities within the city.
One of the regional bodies, the Basque Water Agency, has also begun to analyse and consider climate
change in their flood maps.
In order to be able to collect more information and data on the current and future situation, the local
government may need to make climate change adaptation and critical infrastructure protection a political
imperative and define its research needs and open questions further. Having this information is the
basis on which to develop an adaptation strategy.
3.2 Existing plans and targets for climate change adaptation and
critical infrastructure protection in Bilbao
Over the past two years, the regional and national government of the Basque Country and Spain have
issued policies and plans in support of climate change adaptation. At the Basque regional level the most
recent plan is the “Climate Change Strategy for the Basque Country to 2050”, which was issued in 2015
(Basque Government, 2015). In line with international commitments the strategy contains three
objectives: (i) to reduce GHG emissions in the Basque Country by at least 40% in 2030 and by at least
80% in 2050, with respect to 2005, and (ii) to achieve 40% renewable energy consumption out of the
final consumption by 2050 and iii) to ensure the resilience of the Basque territory to climate change
(Basque Government, 2015). Whilst all Basque municipalities were asked to participate in developing
and implementing it, the city of Bilbao itself is still at the start of its adaptation process. Recently, the
Basque Country has presented an application (“Climate change strategy of the Basque Country to 2050
and its implementation at local level”) to the Transformative Actions Programme and Compact of
Mayors initiative initiated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (internal municipal source).
Bilbao will pilot approaches to climate change adaptation, focusing its efforts on addressing the flood
impacts both from fluvial sources and sea level rise.
Necessary data and information already exists amongst a number of local and national research
institutions. However, there is still no full set of information available as to where, when and to what
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 21
extent the city of Bilbao and its critical infrastructure are vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
With such a comprehensive picture still missing, the city of Bilbao does not have its own stand-alone
adaptation and critical infrastructure protection strategy or action plan – yet.
Nevertheless some aspects of climate change adaptation and critical infrastructure protection are
already acknowledged in selected policies and plans adopted by the local government. Amongst such
plans recognising adaptation –albeit not exclusively – are:
Zorrotzaurre Master Plan
The quality of life in the Zorrotzaurre neighbourhood had been on a continuous social and industrial
decline since the 1970s. Many people left and at its bleakest scarcely 500 people were still living on the
peninsula along the Deusto River. Today, it is the city’s biggest regeneration project. Having changed
the designated usage from an industrial to a residential area already in 1995, a master plan was drawn
up in 2004 and revised in 2007. It stipulates the opening up of the Deusto Canal, making the
Zorrotzaurre peninsula into an island.
Fig. 7 and 8: Deusto Canal and Zorrotzaurre peninsula before and after the implementation of the master plan
(BC3, 2012)
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 22
Fig. 9: Green zones along the newly planned Deusto Canal (Zorrotzaurre Regeneration Commission, 2015)
Opening up the canal and greening its banks would result in the river water being able to flow through,
carry more volume and thus minimise the risk of flooding significantly. The RESIN partners from BC3
analysed the impact the new structure may have on the extent and frequency of floods. The 10-year
return period for expected flood events will no longer apply resulting in a 100% reduction in expected
costs. For the 100-year return period, the estimated damages will be reduced by 67.42% (from EUR
241.34 million to EUR 78.62 million). For the 500-year return period the cost reduction may account for
30.70% (from EUR 444.30 million to EUR 307.91 million) (Osés et al, 2012). The annual flood
probability will also decrease significantly.
The Zorrotzaure master plan also stipulates three more measures to be implemented. The construction
of two storm water tanks along the riverside in San Ignacio between 2017 and 2018 at a cost of EUR 1
million, and one along the Deusto side from 2019-2020 at a cost of EUR 4.4, will further help reduce the
flood risk. In addition, the construction of a flood protection wall along both riversides will help protect
the existing and new housing along the river (Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development Strategies
of Bilbao as internal municipality plan 2016).
Bilbao Emergency Plan
Bilbao City Council has adopted an emergency plan for the city, which is to be updated on an annual
basis by the municipal sub-area for prevention, which includes the Civil Protection and Fire Fighting as
well as the Public Safety units. A yearly update allows the quick deployment of financial resources and
capacity across the city in the case of an emergency. The emergency plan is based on a geographic
information system (GIS) through which risks as well as the severity and scope of an alert can be
analysed throughout the city and the resources necessary to get the situation under control can be
identified. It makes a swift response possible. The alert types considered in the emergency plan are, for
example:
 Torrential rains and floods
 Avalanches
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 23
 Heavy snowfall and cold waves
 Gales and high winds
 Infrastructural collapse
 Road accidents
 Breakdown of services
The emergency plan helps prevent and reduce the impact of the threat as well as the effective and
immediate management of the emergency. Linked to the GIS is a catalogue of the resources available,
a list of telephone numbers and emails of people who are responsible for managing them. The city’s
emergency management is done in close coordination with the heads of other relevant departments
such as the Departments for Security, Works and Services, Traffic and Transport, Public Space and
Health, and Consumer Affairs. All emergency actions are directed by the Crisis Management Board and
are supervised by the Mayor’s office.
The extent to which adaptation and critical infrastructure protection is also considered in further
municipal plans and strategies has yet to be identified and streamlined – for example, in a new climate
adaptation plan.
3.3 Actors active in and relevant for CCA planning and CI protection
To develop climate change adaptation and critical infrastructure protection plans and strategies the city
needs a sound understanding of all the organisations, companies, agency and authorities as well as
citizens that have a stake in adapting to climate change and protecting Bilbao’s critical infrastructure.
It is necessary to identify those actors that can either contribute to and/or are vulnerable to climate
change impacts on critical infrastructure, as is the case for those actors that (critically) depend on CI
services.
Actors within the local government – Making CCA a political priority
With each new election period, the organisational structure of the local government changes slightly.
The current local government – elected in 2015 – is structured along six topical fields, which are subdivided into smaller areas of responsibility (cf. Fig. 10).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 24
Fig. 10: Organisational structure of the local government elected in 2015 (City of Bilbao, 2015)
Not all of these departments are equally involved in making decisions and developing plans for CCA or
CIP. Yet there are a number that could shape a new policy and plan, but the municipality does not have
a set mechanism for how all relevant departments working on CCA can collaborate systematically.
Those that are currently involved are the Departments for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Urban
Development, the Environment, Housing and Healthy Development, the Mobility Policy Coordination as
well as the one for Coordination of Public Safety.
Those departments that are already involved in the RESIN project are next to the Mayor’s Office are the
Department for Environment, Civil protection, Public Works, Mobility and Urban Planning. They are and
could be the drivers of Bilbao’s climate adaptation process.
Other departments and non-departmental bodies that will need to deal with the impacts of climate
change as part of their everyday work are the municipal Departments for Health, Social Services,
Citizen Participation and Environment and Territorial Policy. All of these departments should be
engaged – if they not already are – in developing Bilbao’s climate adaptation and critical infrastructure
protection plans.
Actors in Bilbao and its agglomeration – Joining forces on the ground
Similarly to the municipal departments just mentioned, there are other private public sector actors that
should be involved as they operate and plan critical infrastructure and/or are already affected by climate
change impacts. The most important stakeholders here are URA (Basque Water Agency), Euskalmet
(Basque Meteorology Agency), DBF (Provincial Government of Bizkaia: transport, roads), IHOBE
(Basque Environmental Agency), and the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium.
The RESIN partners in Bilbao have also identified additional actors who indirectly influence or can
contribute to advancing the city’s adaptation efforts. From the municipality side there are the
Department for Economic Development as well as the one for Tourism.
Identified actors in the private sector are Euskaltel (telecommunications company), Iberdrola (energy
company) and Gas Natural (gas company).
Coordination of City
Hall, Economic
Development and
Good Governance
Economic
Development, Trade
and Employment
Economic
Development, Trade
and Employment
Organization and HR
Management
Citizen Participation
and Districts
Social Policy
Coordination
Social Action Area
Department of
Equality,
Cooperation,
Coexistence and
Celebrations: Itziar
Urtasun
Policy Coordination
and Sustainable
Urban Development
Area of ​​Works,
Services,
Rehabilitation and
Urban Public Space
City Planning
Coordination of
Cultural Policy,
Euskera, Education,
Youth and Sports
Department of
Culture
Basque and
Education area
Department of Youth
and Sports
Coordination of
Public Safety
Mobility Policy
Coordination,
Environment,
Housing and Healthy
Development
Traffic, Transport
and Environment
​Health and
Consumption
Living
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 25
At the regional government level, the Provincial Council and Basque Government Departments play a
major role in supporting Bilbao’s adaptation efforts.
3.4 Political commitment and decision-making for adaptation and
critical infrastructure protection
Giving the topics of adaptation and critical infrastructure protection a more prominent place within the
local government and streamlining the decision process in favour of promoting adaptation and political
commitment go hand in hand.
It is imperative that the city government, its political leaders and its administration align their priorities
and reinforce their commitment towards both topics beyond election periods now to prepare Bilbao for
future climate change impacts and make Bilbao more resilient. Whilst climate adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection are as issues not directly addressed yet, the regional governments’ efforts –
both from the policy and legal side through the new strategy – support the local endeavours in this
regard strongly.
Despite not having officially formulated a political commitment yet, the Bilbao local government is slowly
showing that they are committed by signing a number of international commitments on climate change
adaptation. Bilbao has, for example, just signed the Compact of Mayors. This entails the voluntary
commitment towards mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and to report the city’s progress and
achievement of the objectives on a consistent basis to the public through recognized and legitimized
platforms. The city council has also allocated a budget for departments to collaborate with research
institutions and projects on climate change adaptation. RESIN presents such collaboration.
Political commitment provides a way to make the decision-making process supportive of planning and
implementing measures of adaptation and critical infrastructure protection easier – and hopefully more
cohesive amongst all stakeholders. While it is important to involve a wide range of them in the process,
it is vital to first of all understand how, where and by whom decisions influencing the adaptation agenda
are made.
In the municipality of Bilbao, such decisions are made during weekly meetings of the municipal
government. Subsequently, they need to be approved by the city council. In addition, a monthly plenary
session provides the opportunity to raise and discuss important topics. To enable a strategic and
integrated way of making decisions towards adapting to climate change and protecting vital urban
infrastructure, the local government could strengthen the cooperation amongst its departments by
developing a coordination team or unit dealing specifically with these two topics.
When it comes to capacity for making decisions, planning and managing critical infrastructure
protection, the responsibilities are a bit clearer. The bodies responsible for:
 water supply are Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium and public services departments of Bilbao City
Council.
 energy and gas system are private companies such as Iberdrola, Gas Natural, and public
services departments of Bilbao City Council
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 26
 urban roads is Bilbao City Council and the Provincial Body of Bizkaia (responsibilities are divided
amongst these actors for road sections)
 regional roads is Regional Council of Bizkaia
3.5 Legal framework for planning and implementation
Yet, while a local government can do much to put adaptation on its list of, the legal and regulatory
framework can dampen its efforts. However, both the Spanish national government and the regional
government of the Basque Country have been very active in this field over the past years.
The Ministry for the Environment of the Government of Spain issued a Spanish Strategy for Climate
Change and Clean Energy back in 2007 laying out its plans until 2020 (Ministry of Environment, 2007).
The Basque Country has now followed and adopted the Basque Climate Change Strategy 2050 in
2015. Whilst the implications of the latter for Basque municipalities are yet to be seen, both strategies
provide an incentive to do more at local level.
3.6 Financial framework for planning
The national and regional frameworks not only provide guidance from a legal point of view, but are also
accompanied by the allocation of financial resources to implement measures. The Basque Country has
a budget for adaptation activities at regional level of EUR 220 million for the period 2016-2010 (Basque
ClimGovernment, 2015). This budget has been allocated to achieve a number of targets from increasing
the Basque territory’s efficiency and resilience, the resilience of the natural environment as well as the
primary sector, to reducing emissions and anticipating changing risk. Yet, Bilbao has not been assigned
a budget based on this regional strategy yet. Neither has the national policy allocated funds for local
adaptation activities.
3.7 Communication throughout planning processes
If a city wants to achieve its ambitions, it needs to communicate them and engage all actors in the city
to join in. Communication strategies surrounding adaptation are usually connected to official plans and
strategies of a city. In Bilbao there is no unison message promoted by the political leadership so far,
whilst a range of the departments are already involved in measures related to adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection – directly as well as indirectly.
Yet, the need to adapt to climate change and protect critical infrastructure across the region is promoted
by the Basque Country government as part of their Climate Change Strategy 2050. All of the monitoring
and evaluation processes outlined in the regional strategy will follow a participatory approach amongst
private and civil society organisations. The strategy’s progress will be disseminated through a number of
channels down to the local level where citizens will be encouraged to join and follow fora like Klima-Tex,
the Udalsarea 21 network, the social barometer of climate change as well as the portal Basque
Government website (www.klima2050.eu). This may also influence the local government’s efforts in
communicating the impacts of climate change as well as the need and benefits of adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection across the city.
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 27
4 Implementation of adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection measures
While the local government of Bilbao has not developed an adaptation strategy and measures to follow
yet, the administration as well as the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium have already taken charge and
are in the process of implementing a handful of activities:
The City Council has authorised the opening of the Deusto Canal as part of the Zorrotzaurre
Regeneration Project, which will mean the river level will be decreased by one metre to help prevent
flooding (Saitec, 2007).
The Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium has on the other hand invested EUR 33 million and built a storm
water tank in the district of Etxebarri with a capacity of ca. 75,000 m3, which will also help prevent
flooding. The latter is also a means of protecting Bilbao’s critical water infrastructure. A further two storm
tanks are being built in the process of the Zorrotzaure redevelopment (Sustainable and Integrated
Urban Development Strategies of Bilbao 2030, 2016).
The outskirts of Bilbao are in danger of landslides during heavy rainfall. This risk will increase once the
predicted more frequent and intense rains become a reality. The city council has therefore been
supporting the reforestation of the slopes at whose feet the city lies. Since 2007 more than 41,000 trees
have been planted. The city made sure that the varieties of species were also mixed and ready to
withstand a changing climate (internal municipal sources).
With a future adaptation plan and strategy for protecting the city’s critical infrastructure, these and many
more implementation measures can be aligned and realized jointly using synergies and addressing a
wide range of issues, which currently make Bilbao less resilient to climate change.
The main players involved in implementing measures are the City Council as the local administration
and the Basque Water Agency as the planning and implementing agency.
4.1 Financial framework and incentives for implementing measures
There are a few financial incentives available from the national, regional or local level for the local
government itself or other bodies or actors wishing to implement measures of adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection.
The Bilbao City Council has applied for funding for its activities in Zorrotzaurre, within its Sustainable
and Integrated Urban Development Strategy, in the framework of the European Structural and
Investment Fund, mainly for the construction of two storm water tanks (2017-2018 for EUR 1 million)
and along the Deusto side (2019-2020, EUR 4.4 million) to further reduce the flood risk. In addition, the
construction of a flood protection wall along both riversides is being financed through these means
(Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development Strategies of Bilbao 2030, 2016).
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 28
4.2 Communication and evaluation of the implementation processes
Similar to the planning process, there is no official strategy for the implementation process. Once Bilbao
develops its adaptation as well as critical infrastructure protection plans, it should also develop a
monitoring and evaluation mechanism to keep track of and improve the planning and implementation
activities.
For the measures implemented, the respective municipal department either communicates the planning
intentions as well as the type and timeline for the implementation to the citizens. While these messages
do not per se include adaptation, they do involve the topics of critical infrastructure protection through
flood protection.
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 29
5 Bilbao’s challenges, opportunities and
achievements in adapting to climate change
impacts and protecting its critical
infrastructure
Although the local government is demonstrating its motivation to address adaptation and critical
infrastructure protection with all its complexities, the city needs to work on overcoming challenges in
both fields.
With regards to getting the adaption process underway and implementing critical infrastructure
protection measures, the city is finding it difficult to allocate its limited financial resources. A study
undertaken by the RESIN partners of BC3 (Olazabal & Pascual, 2015) serves to confirm, that in the field
of climate change mitigation one of the main barriers is the lack of funding available to restructure the
city’s energy model. This in turn blocks innovative ways of starting an energy transition process. Given
the lack of initiatives regarding climate adaptation but the clear commitment of local and regional
authorities to this issue, the same could be applied to this sector. It also suggests that the country’s
austerity and local fiscal budgets should not preclude action – once all relevant parties agree that action
is necessary. Once all stakeholders are on the same page, they could contribute to Bilbao’s efforts of
transforming its social and economic structures and making the city resilient to future climate change
impacts.
Adaptation as a topic is also anchored and coordinated at local, regional as well as national
government level, which means a number of policy-making and planning bodies need to find common
ground and develop coherent plans and measures to advance the adaptation process. Whilst the
regional government has taken a strong lead in climate-proofing the Basque country, the local
government needs to expand its political leadership. The signing of the Covenant of Mayors and the
development of a Sustainable Energy Action Plan are a step in the right direction to kick-off a transition
process towards a climate-resilient city. Bilbao also has just signed the Compact of Mayors and
participated in the development of the Basque Strategy for Climate Change 2050. The latter strategy will
also promote integrating mitigation and adaptation issues. If the local government manages to make
use of the momentum and develop a holistic vision of the adaptation process across all areas of
responsibility and sectors, the city could turn into a true climate leader.
When it comes to Bilbao’s critical infrastructure, some of the obstacles relate to protecting in
particular its water supply and sewage system, energy supply as well as the transport system.
The responsible bodies as well as the political leaders must ensure that the operation of these
infrastructures is still possible to the extent that the city’s, citizens’ and private sector’s fundamental
needs can be met in case of emergency. This means the local government needs to organise itself in
such a way that it is able to upgrade and safeguard its existing infrastructure as well as be able to
invest in new and substantial infrastructure works.
While the local government of Bilbao can and needs to set the tone and develop a strategy to overcome
its current challenges in the adaptation arena, its citizens play a vital role in supporting and driving the
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 30
process forward. Yet, the RESIN partners from BC3 discovered in their study (Olazabal & Pascual,
2015) that there is a lack of understanding and awareness, frequent scepticism and even denial among
the city’s citizens. A lack of information on climate change impacts, the details of Bilbao’s population
and the infrastructure necessary to keep the city running may be contributing factors to this public
opinion. One way to dispel such views and foster a positive, supportive attitude to the city’s efforts is to
educate people on cost-effective methods of reducing risks like flooding and hot spots as well as
proving the co-benefits of climate action (Olazabal & Pascual, 2015). It was also shown that their
citizens need to be involved from the very early stages of urban planning, so that they are aware of the
problems the administration faces and so that the city administration is made aware of people’s needs
and suggestions.
Addressing Bilbao’s challenges collaboratively is the key to turning them into opportunities for the city of
which there are many. Not only could Bilbao gain from the numerous co-benefits of adapting to climate
change across many of its sectors such as the local economy, society, urban development and the
city’s standing at national and European level. Adapting to climate change could also help prevent more
flooding to which the city is vulnerable as evidenced by numerous flooding events over the past
decades. By opening the canal, which flows through parts of the city, the administration has already
begun to take advantage of this opportunity. While implementing adaptation measures is never a
smooth job, Bilbao’s size is an advantage in terms of the investment, planning and coordination efforts
necessary. Being a medium-sized city also means that the results of the adaptation and infrastructure
protection measures are visible more quickly.
Bilbao has had a strong industry for many decades and there are still a fair number of companies
located in the city that have the expertise and capability to help the local government upgrade and adapt
its infrastructures be stronger and climate-proof in the face of more extreme weather events.
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 31
6 Bilbao’s needs for adapting to climate
change impacts and protecting (critical)
infrastructure
Based on the challenges it is still facing, the local government of Bilbao has rated its needs for better
adaptation to climate change and to protect its critical infrastructure – mainly being water, energy and
transport – as depicted in this Fig. 11:
Fig. 11: Bilbao’s needs to improve adaptation efforts
1. Political Leadership: Strong leadership is needed in climate change policies in order to actively
involve all of Bilbao’s key actors. The central and local government bodies are the ones who must
assume this leadership in order to lay down specific guidelines for the city council’s various
responsibility domains.
2. Financing: A proper budget is required in order to implement the adaptation measures. The
government and other interested parties need to look for different funding solutions to allow more
investment in adaptation.
3. Coordination and streamlining across government levels: There are different public
administrations with concurrent territorial jurisdiction as water, waste, energy, etc. For this reason,
there is a need for proper coordination.
Needs to
better adapt
to climate
change
1
Political
Leadership
2
Financing
3
Coordination
and
streamlining
across
government
levels
4
Integrated
vision
5
Citizen
awareness
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 32
4. Integrated vision: An integrated urban planning vision that facilitates a good climate adaptation
policy is necessary. This vision needs to include the urban ecosystem in its entirety, from the
physical elements of the city to the behaviour of its citizens.
5. Citizen awareness: Citizen awareness is essential in the development of the adaptation policies.
For example, public awareness will allow the effectiveness of municipal emergency plans.
The local government of Bilbao has also rated its needs to better protect its critical infrastructure. Their
needs in this domain are actually very similar to those for climate change adaptation as Fig. 12 shows:
Fig. 12: Bilbao’s needs to improve its critical infrastructure protection
1. Political Leadership: Strong leadership is needed in climate change policies in order to actively
involve all of Bilbao’s key actors. The central and local government bodies are the ones that must
assume this leadership in order to provide specific guidelines for all city council responsibility
domains.
2. Financing: A proper budget is required in order to implement the adaptation measures. The
government and other interested parties need to look for different funding solutions to allow more
investment in adaptation.
3. Coordination and streamlining across government levels: There are different public
administrations with concurrent territorial jurisdiction as water, waste, energy, etc. For this reason,
there is a need for proper coordination.
Needs to
better protect
critical
infastructure
1
Political
Leadership
2
Financing
3
Coordination
and
streamlining
across
government
levels
4
Security plan
to protect
critical
infrastructure
5
Technical and
research
support
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 33
4. Security plan to protect critical infrastructure: An analysis of the city’s vulnerabilities and the
location of major infrastructure is required in order to find alternative solutions ensuring the
provision of basic services in the case of catastrophic events.
5. Technical and research support: In an uncertain field such as climate change it is necessary
that the scientific community supports the validity of the decisions made in urban climate
adaptation, in order to substantiate the decision’s validity.
Through RESIN, Bilbao hopes to create a sound evidence base by analysing its vulnerability towards
climate change. Having a proper overview and knowledge of what the current situation looks like and
what the forecasts are, the local government can develop an effective and efficient climate adaptation
plan. Here local decision-makers will have to work together with the administration as well as its
citizens, companies and research institutes. Being part of RESIN will allow Bilbao to gain from its
research results, policy recommendations and have their research needs met to take further steps
towards being a resilient city.
RESIN City Assessment Report | Bilbao 34
References
Basque Government, 2011: Cambio Climático: impacto y adaptación en la Comunidad Autónoma del
País Vasco. Gobierno Vasco. Gobierno Vasco, Departamento de Medio Ambiente, Planificación
Territorial, Agricultura y Pesca. Coordinado por: Santa Coloma, O., Feliu, E. & Mendizabal, M.
Vitoria-Gasteiz. Available at: http://www.ingurumena.ejgv.euskadi.net/r496172/es/contenidos/libro/kegokitzen/es_doc/indice.html
Basque Government. 2013. Udalmap - Municipal information system of the Basque Country. Available
at: http://www.ogasun.ejgv.euskadi.net/r51udalmape/en/contenidos/informacion/udalmap/en_udalmap/udalmap.html.
Basque Government, 2015. Climate Change Strategy for the Basque Country to 2050. Available at:
http://www.ingurumena.ejgv.euskadi.eus/r4911293/en/contenidos/informacion/klima_2050/en_def/index.shtml
ECONADAPT (Economics of adaptation to climate-change) Policy and decision context of case studies.
Deliverable 6.1 of the FP7 ECONADAPT project of the European Commission financed FP7
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