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Bristol annual event returns to explore the health and sustainability of the city

This October will see the return of Bristol's (United Kingdom) annual Healthy City Week. Taking place from 7 "“ 14, the week-long event will run a series of discussions, lectures and workshops exploring the health and sustainability of the city. The event aims to create and deepen conversations around some of the major health and sustainability challenges the city faces.

Healthy City Week enables individuals and organisations from across Bristol to come together, exchange ideas and explore the intersections between health and the environmental sustainability of the city.

The varied programme of events includes: a community conversation on sustainability, activities on urban air quality, a public lecture focusing on the health impacts of air quality, a workshop on embedding nature in healthcare, a smart energy showcase, and much more.

The event is organized by Bristol Green Capital Partnership and is supported by Bristol Health Partners.

For more information and to download the programme, visit the website.Image copyright: sourced from Flickr more   26 September 2017 An interview with Iŕ±aki Arriola, Minister for the Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing of the Basque CountryA year ago, the Basque Country hosted the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns. What has the legacy of that conference been in the Basque Country?

The choice to hold the event in the Basque Country was an important recognition of the work of the Basque authorities in recent years. It highlighted the benefits of our inter-institutional coordination model, showcasing its capacity to integrate different tiers of governance: municipal, provincial, and regional.

We were enthusiastic about holding the conference, and saw it as an affirmation of the way in which our institutions cooperated with different segments of society. It was also an excellent opportunity for Basque municipalities to showcase their achievements, and to learn more about new sustainability projects and ideas.

The conference left a lasting legacy, which is best exemplified by the approval of the "Basque Declaration". This document is the roadmap for European cities and towns to understand how transformation towards an inclusive and liveable Europe can be implemented.

We should not forget that the Basque Declaration came at a crucial moment internationally, as it followed the approval of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement. The document includes a translation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into 10 local areas, which is a hugely important step.

Europe is facing problems in progressing towards a more inclusive and sustainable society. The launch of the Transformative Action Award seeks to showcase inspirational transformative experiences. What do you believe is the role of municipalities and regions in this area?

I think that setting up the award is a way to put the Basque Declaration into practice. I am convinced that it will prove to be a tool not only for cities to commit to innovative sustainability strategies, but to generate models that can be repeated by other municipalities.

Municipalities and regions play a fundamental role. The ultimate goal of all authorities is to serve the people; local and regional institutions are the governance level closest to the people. As has been seen with climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions must be driven across all levels. Adaptation must be managed from the local level, as the consequences occur at that scale.

The comprehensive concept of sustainability is best observed at the local level. The size of the action is not the most important aspect, but rather its impact in improving economic, environmental, and social conditions. In this sense, the size of the municipality is irrelevant.

Do you believe that it is important for cities to work in a network and share solutions and initiatives?

Without a doubt. One example is Udalsarea 21 - the Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability, which has been running for 15 years and has just approved its Strategic Plan 2020. As I said previously, this initiative was one of the primary reasons that the Basque Country held the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns. Udalsarea 21 represents a comprehensive vision of sustainability.

ICLEI is important as a place to share experiences and identify projects, as well as an interlocutor with the European institutions, helping local and regional governments to obtain economic support for local transformation. Working in a network is based on shared leadership, setting benchmarks, and driving progress, which is an ongoing learning process.

What are the main lines of work in terms of sustainable development in the Basque Country?

The Basque Country is firmly committed to international sustainable development strategies. National strategies are also essential, such as the IV Environmental Framework Programme of the Basque Country 2020, which sets out the environmental policy of our Autonomous Community. This programme is one of the 15 strategic plans that make up the core of the Basque Government commitments, and which appear in the "Euskadi 2020: Progressing in Sustainable Human Development" programme. The IV Environmental Framework Programme directly impacts 10 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Other key actions in this area are the "Climate Change Strategy of the Basque Country - KLIMA2050", which was selected during the COP21 climate summit in Paris by the Transformative Actions Programme as one of the 24 best international projects for achieving a resilient and low-carbon territory. The Waste Prevention and Management Plan 2020 focuses on achieving a circular economy, while the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 aims to conserve the environment.

Is the general public aware of the work being done by the Basque Government?

I believe that the general public is aware of the environmental work being carried out by all Basque authorities, and particularly the Basque Government. A recent study indicated that, for the first time, 100 percent of Basque citizens agreed on the need to protect the environment. It is a matter of great concern, and that has much to do with the awareness-raising work that we are carrying out.

In fact, society is increasingly in favour of environmental concern being translated into specific actions and commitments, which points towards a hopeful future. This allows us to address objectives such as: fighting climate change, driving the circular economy, reducing waste, protecting biodiversity, and strengthening our commitment to sustainable development goals.

I should stress here that young people are increasingly committed to living a sustainable lifestyle. The data shows that two thirds of young Basques regularly separate household waste and that over half limit water consumption, travel on public transport, or use their own bags when shopping. These are details that point towards a more sustainable future.

The transformation of the Basque Country to a sustainable and circular economy model was presented during the European Membership Assembly in May. What role will public-private partnerships play in that transformation?

We want public-private partnerships to play an important role. That is the only way to ensure real and positive results. One important example is the Basque Ecodesign Centre, an initiative where the Basque Government works with the most advanced companies in the Basque Country and industrial sectors to implement ecodesign and product eco-innovation.

The Basque Government will continue to work on this line of cooperation with different stakeholders in society. In the Basque Country, industry has gone from representing 30 percent of GDP to 23.5 percent. Our economy is more diversified, but what has really made the difference is the transformation of the industrial sector, which is now efficient in its resource consumption and more environmentally respectful.

The numbers back up this change of model, as the environmental sector generates around EUR 3.6 billion a year. The activity of eco-industries accounts for 5.3 percent of our GDP and we have over 1,200 companies with environmental certifications. In fact, around 50 percent of the companies certified in ecodesign in Spain are Basque.Image copyright: sourced from Irekia, Basque Country Spain more

» Publication Date: 27/09/2017

» Source: Iclei Europe

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