City of Bilbao

City introduction

The municipality of Bilbao is the capital of the province of Biscay in the autonomous community of the Basque Country in Spain and is the tenth most populated municipality in Spain.
Bilbao is situated in the north-central part of Spain. Originally it was an important port city with iron as its main export activity. Later, it became the base for heavy industrial and port activity, but this was transferred outside the city by the 1980s and 1990s. As a consequence, Bilbao has become a service city with a marked focus on innovation and high-value added activities. Future growth and economic development in the city is expected to rely on the following sectors: advanced services, eco-technology and urban solutions, tourism, art and design.
Tourism has become a priority for the city with the Guggenheim Museum representing the most significant icon of this urban regeneration and transformation process. This museum and the associated cultural and leisure activities hosted by the city significantly boosted Bilbao’s position in the rankings of regional tourist destinations.
The city of Bilbao adopted their sustainable energy action plan “Plan de Acción para la Energía Sostenible” (PAES) in September 2012. The plan is divided along the following categories: Energy efficiency, sustainable transport/mobility, renewable energies, waste generation and treatment, water, nature. In total, the plan outlines 45 actions to achieve a 30% reduction of CO2 by 2020 (compared to base year 2005). Bilbao city council is also partnering with research institute BC3 ( to improve the interaction between science and policy in the field of climate change adaption and mitigation.
On the regional level, the Basque Country has implemented a number of initiatives to foster sustainable development, for example, the 2020 Basque Environmental Strategy for Sustainable Development and the broad extension of the Local Agenda 21. To this end, Udalsarea 21 (Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability) was created in 2002 to support the implementation of the Local Agendas 21 in more than 200 Basque municipalities, including Bilbao.


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