The City Mayor of Donostia / San Sebastian and President of the Atlantic Cities network, Eneko Goia, opened the second day of the network’s Seminar and General Assembly, which took place on 24 and 25 May in Donostia / San Sebastian. The meeting coincided in time and space with the General Assembly of the Atlantic Arc Commission, which is currently chaired by the Basque Prime Minister Iñigo Urkullu, and in which similar topics were discussed. “A window of opportunity is opening so that the creation of an Atlantic macro-region becomes a reality. For the cities that make up the Atlantic Arc, this is of the utmost importance. It obliges us to work together on new projects and to assume common commitments“, Eneko Goia underlined at the beginning of the session.
The scientific director of BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change, María José Sanz, then took the floor to explain the impacts that climate change is already having on Atlantic Cities: “Climate change is a reality, and extreme events such as high temperatures, torrential rain or drought are recurring and with greater frequency and intensity. Cities have a key role to play in this aspect, but also a great need to adapt“. 70% of the world’s population live in urban areas, cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce 60% of global emissions. “They need huge investments to adapt to heat waves, floods, forest fires that hit them… That is why it is imperative that action plans integrate mitigation and adaptation aspects, and that they are not separated. Furthermore, it is necessary to promote climate governance and achieve greater psychosocial involvement“. Finally, he underlined the importance of communicating opportunities to reach out to citizens and the private sector, and gain their cooperation.
Transformation of cities
Five cities in the network took part in the round table of mayors: the Mayor of A Coruña, Inés Rey, the Mayor of Donostia/San Sebastián, Eneko Goia, the Mayor of Gijón, Ana González, the Mayor of Biarritz, Maider Arosteguy, and the Vice-Mayor of Viana do Castelo, Manuel Vitorino, who discussed the transformation of their cities in the face of climate change.
Signature of the Declaration
After a break, the cities of the network met for the General Assembly, where they approved and signed the text of the Donostia / San Sebastián Declaration aimed at fighting climate change and its effects. In this, they commit to promote sustainable urban development and fight climate change within the network, accelerate the implementation of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their cities, as well as to expand and intensify, based on their competencies, combined mitigation and adaptation actions against climate change.
Furthermore, they will promote and facilitate the exchange of good practices, accelerate processes and actions in this regard, and promote shared experiences and pilot projects. They will seek to improve anticipatory capacity through planning and risk analysis and will implement plans to improve resilience to the effects of climate change. They also commit to putting people at the centre of their policies, designing strategies and carrying out actions to protect the population, especially the most vulnerable, from the impacts and consequences of climate change.