Nerbioi-Ibaizabal Supramunicipal Sustainability Office
City/Region : Udaltalde 21 Nerbioi-Ibaizabal , Spain

Udaltalde 21 Nerbioi-Ibaizabal set up the Supramunicipal Sustainability Office in 2011 as a public support service for Local Agenda 21.

In 2014, the Supramunicipal Procurement Service, using sustainability criteria, was established.

In 2017, the Supramunicipal Energy Observatory and the Citizens Energy Portal were established. Its aim is to facilitate triple savings and environmental, economic and energy efficiency:  cutting energy consumption (kWh); energy bills (€); and, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Waste collection of the municipalities of the supramunicipal district is contracted on a group basis to reduce cost and improve the environmental outcome.

EU Green Deal Policy Areas Addressed
Sustainable mobilityBiodiversityClean energy
Public space
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
  • Support open data standards
  • Ensure new policies take socio-cultural changes resulting from innovative technologies into account

Nerbioi-Ibaizabal is a supramunicipal district next to Bilbao. The small and medium-sized municipalities needed an effective and stable instrument to support local sustainability management. Given their small size and limited resources, they could not support an individual approach. They therefore opted for the supramunicipal cooperation model. They decided to jointly prepare, implement and assess the Local Agenda 21 plans of each municipality, sharing resources and a common sustainability strategy: the Supramunicipal Agenda 21.

The Supramunicipal Office was the structure that was therefore set up.  Staff and the technical team were contracted and a budget, the annual management plan and a strategy - the Local Agenda 21 - were created.

In Action

It was decided to allocate the technical and economic resources according to an analysis of social, economic and environmental returns. Three priority areas of action were established:

1. Local Agenda 21 and School Agenda 21. Its goal: Methodically deploy the strategic planning of sustainability. It includes: Annual assessment and monitoring of the LAP; GHG inventory; tak 21; School Agenda 21.

2. Waste collection. Goal: Reduce the environmental impact, create economic savings and foster the circular economy. It includes the group contracting of the separate waste collection services, with a significant increase in collection of organic waste by means of the fifth container and composting, along with a significant increase of the percentage of separated waste.

3. Energy management/climate change. Goal: Environmental, energy and economic efficiency and savings. It includes the Supramunicipal Energy Observatory and the collective procurement of renewable energy.

Udaltalde 21 Nerbioi-Ibaizabal is an "own means and technical service" of the local councils which entrust it with the management of activities related to its corporate purpose.

The committee is the working group consisting of technical and political municipal representatives that head the implementation of supramunicipal actions. The Supramunicipal Office's technical team help the municipal technical staff to implement and monitor the Local Agenda 21 plans of action.  This committee also decides which training, participation, environmental education and information actions are to be deployed by the technical team. In addition, several school centres take part in the School Agenda 21. Different technical teams have been involved in the implementation of the main projects.


This cooperation has facilitated the setting up of synergies and cost savings, along with access to opportunities, grants and projects that were individually unattainable for the municipalities. It has allowed the accumulated know-how and solutions to often similar problems to be shared.

The Supramunicipal Sustainability Office was awarded the Udalsarea 21 Prize (2012) for the "Best Practice in Local Sustainability". Further information here.


The implementation of the separate collection of organic waste removes 400,000 kilos a year from the waste circuit and has lead to savings of €25,500 in waste treatment.

The School Agenda 21 has involved 3,600 students and has been running for 11 years.

The Supramunicipal Energy Observatory serves 7 municipalities: Arrankudiaga; Arrigorriaga; Etxebarri; Orduña; Ugao-Miraballes; Zaratamo; and, Zeberio. It groups together 34,887 inhabitants, 408 electricity contracts (municipal amenities and public lighting) plus a further 34 gas contracts. Once the measure is implemented, estimated total emissions will be 88.33 tC02, which is a 3% reduction in the total consumption of the local authority. The detected annual potential savings is over €70,000.

Further information at:

Challenges and lessons learned

The interests and priorities of the local councils are different.

Solution: The services must be adjusted to demand and designed à la carte.

There may be doubts regarding the economic return and the funding of the services.

Solution: The service and operating costs of the office must be meticulously defined, along with a permanent link between economic savings and the environmental benefit of the actions, including informing the general public of these points. There must be a balance between greening contracts and services on the one hand, and implementing innovative initiatives on the other.



ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19



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