Topic 3 How changing our urban lifestyle can help climate change adaptation

Case study: Urban Green Infrastructure of Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain)

Name the Protagonist:

Ayuntamiento de Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain)

What is their Story?

The city of Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country – Spain) is implementing, since 2012, the Green Strategy of Urban Infrastructure, whose main objectives are the regeneration of degraded areas through eco-design techniques, the improvement of urban biodiversity, the improvement of connectivity and functionality of different urban and peri-urban areas, the promotion of the public use of green spaces and the improvement of the adaptive capacity to climate change. In parallel, it is also implementing a Sustainable Mobility Plan, which aims to promote sustainable mobility modes to the detriment of the private vehicle.

Both the Strategy and the Plan respond to a range of climate challenges manifested in changes in precipitation patterns (average 10%-30% decrease in spring and up to 30% increase in the number of extreme precipitation events by 2100), increasing temperatures (increase in average annual temperature and frequency of heat waves, increase in minimum temperatures by 1-3°C by 2100 during winter and possible increase of up to 3oC in maximum summer temperatures) and increased flood risk.

In this context, the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz considers it is important to create green areas that reduce these impacts and help to promote conservation, connectivity and biodiversity enhancement, relevant for both mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The Strategy is being implemented through various interventions in different parts of the city: the Green Ring (a series of parks and semi-rural areas surrounding the city), urban parks and ecological corridors connecting different elements (such as trees along water lines or tree-lined streets), wasteland and even buildings. The interventions are very diverse and, in many cases, multi-objective, including:

  • Transformation of vacant land into new green spaces.
  • Increased biomass and number of trees and shrubs in parks and gardens.
  • Enhancing habitat functions in existing green areas through interventions that increase urban biodiversity, improve conservation of native species and improve water management.
  • Promotion of ecological agriculture in open spaces and peri-urban areas.
  • Promotion of green facades and roofs on buildings, etc.

Link to the Case Study:

Why is this a Good Example to Follow?

The example of Vitoria-Gasteiz shows how the implementation of nature-based solutions in cities can contribute to simultaneously reducing vulnerability to various climate risks (high temperatures in summer and excessive precipitation in winter) and at the same time generate many other benefits for the quality of urban life, such as the creation of leisure spaces, the improvement of air quality, the enhancement of landscape and biodiversity and even the attraction and dynamization of tourism.

How can you use this Case Study to Adapt to Climate Change?

The urban adaptation solutions presented in this case study can be replicated in most cities around the world that have similar climate vulnerabilities. At another scale, nature-based climate adaptation solutions can also be implemented in our homes. For example, we can install a green roof or wall to improve the thermal comfort of the building, we can remove impermeable pavement from backyards and patios to increase soil permeability and rainwater infiltration, or we can also plant shade trees around the house.

By knowing these adaptation options, we can also participate in local planning processes, demanding that political and technical decision makers take into consideration the adoption of nature-based solutions for the qualification of the urban environment of our cities.

What impact has this case study example achieved?

The entire Urban Infrastructure Green Strategy was developed to increase urban biodiversity as well as improve the connectivity and functionality of different urban and peri-urban green spaces. With regard to climate change adaptation, such interventions contribute to the reduction of the heat island effect and help to regulate the local climate. Furthermore, an increase in public use of green spaces and recreational opportunities can be expected. Finally, some concrete measures, such as green façades, are expected to result in lower energy consumption in buildings, as well as better temperature regulation in their interior and immediate surroundings.


Set of reflection questions:

  • Question 1 – How can the creation of green spaces improve the climate resilience of cities?
  • Question 2 – What other adaptation solutions (such as infrastructure or technologies) can be used to reduce the climate vulnerability of cities?
  • Question 3 – What are the advantages of nature-based solutions for adapting cities to climate change?

Case study: Video

Debriefing Questions (after the video)

Q No.Questions
Question 1:How can the urban environment increase our vulnerability to climate risks?
Question 2:What kind of options can be adopted in cities to increase their resilience to current and future climate?
Question 3:How can we adapt our homes to be more resilient to current and future climate?
Question 4:What are the advantages of using nature-based solutions to adapt homes, streets and cities to the current and future climate?