Actívate+ / Aktibatu+ en Bilbao
Organisation : Plan de Acción Global para la Tierra (GAP España) , Spain

The project was launched in the Basque Country, by GAP España in conjunction with Government of Bizkaia and 6 other public and private partners.

The aim was to enable local communities and citizens to transform by empowering them through taking "actions", hence the name "Actívate+". The strategy was to engage schools, families and the community to encourage change in relation to sustainability.

Two GAP programmes were implemented: one aimed at reducing energy & waste in school buildings and the other minimizing daily negative habits in relation to water, energy consumption and mobility using the household as the focal point.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationUrban mobilityWater resources and air quality
Climate changeSocial inclusion and integration
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
  • Support open data standards
San Inazio school work team

Between september 2017 and July 2018, the Actívate+ project was centered on the city of Bilbao (population: 351.965). The 2 main aims were to reduce CO2 emissions and improve waste management by empowering citizens.

The objectives in the schools were to reduce energy use by 5% and for the waste programme to reduce waste by 10% and improve recycling within the school. Both energy use and waste were 2 areas the local authorities were keen to work on, with the involvement of the children & teachers.

In relation to households, the authorities wanted to reduce waste and encourage citizens to reduce their impact in 3 other areas: water, energy & mobility. Specifically the aims were as follows
• 3% reduction in water use
• 3% reduction in energy consumption
• A reduction of 7% in CO2 emissions

In Action
Zamakola school work team

The approach taken was recruiting local schools interested in taking the programme on as either an extra activity, or part of the curriculum. The local education department offered the opportunity via its communication channels and 12 schools signed up.

To attract the local community, apart from promoting the Household programme to the parents associations as well as directly to the parents via the schools, the rest of the community was invited to participate in the programme using the facilities provided by the municipality (posters, leaflets in public places, local media editorials, etc.). The programme was kicked off by a press conference where the local dignitaries were present and where the organizers outlined the programmes objectives. The press release encouraged participation and the impact in the local media was significant.

A series of talks were arranged and run by the public & private organizations that formed part of the Actívate+ programme, each one centering on their sector & expertize, all heavily involved in environmental issues and concerns: Eroski (Mondragon co-operative supermarket chain), EVE (Basque Government Energy Institute), CTB (Bizkaia Transport Authority), Garbiker (Bizkaia Waste Corporation) & Aguas de Bilbao (Bilbao Water Authority). The 8 talks that took place in local community centres attracted over 300 participants.

An important element has been the participation of the University of the Basque Country. More than 700 personas, students, teachers and university employees, registered and participated in the programme.

This resulted in 1.485 households registering in the Household web platform.

In addition Actívate+ celebrated an event called "Semana verde" which formed part of Green Week and was one of the 45 initiatives chosen by the EU in Spain to highlight local activities and the only one in the Basque Country. The 4 day event (20th to 23rd May) took place in EUSKALDUNA conference palace, in the center of Bilbao

Programme launch:
Climate Change Office Bilbao:
Universidad País Vasco:
Winning school:
Green Week:

Representatives of participating entities at the press conference

In the schools programme the results were as follows.
• 12.928 students & 1.274 teachers
• 12% reduction in energy use (10 Tn. de CO2)

The results for the household programme were as follows:
• Estimated number of households in Bilbao: 140.786
• Number of households registered in programme: 1.485 (1,1%)
• Energy saved: 2,8% (equivalent to 9,5 tonnes petrol)
• Water saved: 4,7% (annual savings of 950.000 litres)
• Waste saved: 3,1% (annual saving of 4,7 tonnes of waste)
• Mobility reduced by 4,5% (equivalent to annual saving of 2.1 tonnes petrol)

Quote from teachers and students of participating schools:

It is a very good programme for working with the students. It not only works the basic elements, but alos touches aspects such as. habits, creativity, working in groups, etc... (Professor at IES SAN IGNACIO BHI)

It has changed a basic habit in this school of leaving the lights on (student at STA. MARÍA DE ARTAGAN BHIP)


The impact from a qualitative aspect was marked:
• In the schools the teachers were impressed with the methodology which was easy to follow and best of all inspired the children to act and take responsibility.
• In the community, the local authority was pleased with the impact as it had a knock on effect where friends, families & neighbours began to follow the examples taken by those who had participated
- It created an interesting model where both private sector and public sector companies & institutions joined forces and it's success to date has resulted in a committment to roll the project out a further 3 years (Re-Activate+)

The impact from a quantitative aspect has been documented. Actívate+ was designed to measure results. This assisted the implementation as local authorities were very interested to evaluate the programme based on results.

Challenges and lessons learned

- In the schools: many centres don’t have access to electricity or gas meters and have no concept of usage. Meters were hard to find. In future, attention was given to helping teachers locate meters and interpret readings

- Using the students to observe changes in habits which formed the basis of the communication programme

- The household programme is built on a web platform and access was added via the mobile.

- Municiplaity need tools to continue with this initiative. A challenge would be for the munciplaity to keep the web platform open



ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
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