SDG 13 focuses on fostering climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies as well as raising awareness around the climate crisis. Indeed, one of the most pressing issues cities are facing is the need to integrate specific and measurable actions against climate change in their public policies. The case of Barcelona is specially acute. With over “98% of the population exposed to fine pollutants that prematurely kill more than 900 people a year in the city” according to the town hall, there is a pressing need to adopt drastic changes.
Barcelona’s climate emergency plan
Barcelona has declared a “situation of climate emergency” and established an action plan with 4 axes (mitigation, adaptation, citizen action and climate justice) and a focus on accelerating the transformation of the city to prevent climate change risks. With a budget of over 563.3 million euros, the plan includes short-term (2018-2020) and medium-long-term (2021-2030) objectives focused on mobility, urbanism, economy, food, water, energy, culture, education, and health. Some of the most important actions include the redesign of 15 km of urban areas into green axes, the transformation of schools into greener areas with urban farms and climate change educational programs, or the deployment of a “zero waste strategy”, aimed to eliminate disposable plastics and increase selective collection up to 65%.
Barcelona’s climate emergency action plan catches our attention as it drives the attention directly to the people by stating that climate change directly “affects the quality of life and health of citizens”. Recognizing so facilitates a new bottom-down approach rooted in the co-creation of climate change responses with the citizenry, allowing for shared responsibility and acknowledgement.
Climate change and the entrepreneurial heart of the city
The urgency of climate change mitigation has also reached the entrepreneurial heart of the city. Indeed, many have been the companies created in Barcelona with the intention to fight the effects of climate change. This is the case of e-Cooltra and Yego, which offer a moto sharing service aimed to reduce pollution, with each moto saving an “average of 55kg of polluting atmospheric substances”. With the same aim, the startup Bettair provides an innovative technology that allows a large-scale mapping of urban air pollution, empowering better decision-making processes around the issue. As they state “understanding the problem is the first step to solving it”.
Another captivating company tackling climate change is EixVerd, a social enterprise that promotes the greening of urban areas through the implementation of green roofs, green walls and urban gardens. By implementing these solutions, citizens can contribute to “reducing pollution as well as achieving increased urban biodiversity and improving rainwater management”, as the founder states.
If you want to discover more sustainable initiatives there is a wonderful map in the Barcelona town hall website, where you can explore and learn more about the companies that are changing the rules of the game: https://www.bcnsostenible.cat/en/.
Writing by Marta Andrés