Vitoria-Gasteiz, founded in 1181, is second in size only to Bilbao in the Basque Country, and has some 240,000 people currently inhabiting this gem in northern Spain. Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of the Álava province and of the Basque Country.
Vitoria-Gasteiz is comprised of concentric circles, with the city itself at centre. The “Green Belt”, a semi-natural green area partially reclaimed from degraded areas, surrounds the centre and brings nature into the city. The third circle is dominated by forestry and mountains.
The city has a high proportion of green public areas, ensuring that the entire population lives within 300m of an open green space. Numerous tangible measures are in place to assist and increase biodiversity and ecosystems services.
Flora and fauna are monitored, habitat fragmentation is reduced wherever possible, and measures have been introduced to decrease light pollution. Besides being recreational areas and natural habitats for plant and animal life, the green areas also have an educational purpose: the community gardens, for example, enable the population to study horticulture at close range.
Vitoria-Gasteiz has an ambitious objective of reducing domestic water consumption to below 100 litres per capita per day. Already today, water consumption has decreased steadily from 1999 to 2009. Water-related investments have been made within the context of the Agenda 21 environmental action plan for improved water supply, to reduce losses, work towards sustainable consumption and improve water quality. A citizen’s information office on water consumption and efficiency has also been set up.