San Sebastián’s 2050 roadmap

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The city of San Sebastian. Credit: Miquel Fabre

In 2017, the municipality of San Sebastián, Spain, initiated a participatory process with the aim to develop a local climate change strategy for the city and its citizens. The result of this participatory process is the 2050 roadmap: the “Plan de Acción Klima 2050 de Donostia/San Sebastián” (in English the Donostia/San Sebastián’s Climate Action Plan 2050). Another aim of the process was to raise citizens’ awareness of Climate Change and encourage them to take individual and collective actions. The plan has been approved by the City Hall on June 5, 2018. The roadmap has the overall vision to make San Sebastián city carbon neutral by 2050. The objectives included in the roadmap are also based on the 2050 Climate Change Strategy of the entire Basque Autonomous Community.

“The city of the future needs people like those who have made the city of the present a reality. Citizens who are responsible, active and trained to achieve global, changing evolution, which is only possible by means of strong values and social capital.” - Estrategia 2030 Donostia/ San Sebastián


  • Make San Sebastián carbon neutral by 2050 by reducing CO2 emissions by at least 80% compared to 2007;
  • Promote the active participation of citizens and mobilisation around Climate Change issues;
  • Achieve zero emissions in transport;
  • Decarbonise the energy sector;
  • Produce and consume goods based on principles of the circular economy and promote zero waste;
  • Sustainable maintenance, construction and usage of infrastructures and buildings.

How it works

The process of development of the roadmap is based on:

  • A study on the state of the art in climate change including an analysis of action plans (i.e. roadmaps) developed in seventeen cities in Europe.
  • The results of an ‘intergenerational workshop’ taking place on December 15th, 2016 and engaging 50 participants. The workshops aimed at collecting ideas, knowledge and visions related to Climate Change by a diverse group of participants.

The results of both the study and the workshop resulted in the development of the 2050 roadmap. The roadmap identifies key sectors and associated objectives to be achieved in order to accomplish the overall goal to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 80% by 2050:

  • Occupation and land use: Reduce land use by limiting the artificial occupation of more territory;
  • Mobility of people and goods: Zero emissions in transport;
  • Production, consumption of goods and waste generation/Circular Economy: Zero waste;
  • Construction, use and maintenance of infrastructure and buildings: More than 80% of buildings with high energy efficiency;
  • Energy/Decarbonisation: More than 80% of renewable energy on the total energy consumption.

The roadmap identifies five strategic areas of action:

  • Information: i.e. the way citizens get to know and share information about climate issues;
  • Lifestyles: i.e. the relationship between citizens’ actions and CO2 emissions;
  • Infrastructures: i.e. the way citizens experience the city´s physical (e.g. infrastructure like buildings) character;
  • Technology: i.e. the way citizens apply knowledge gained through e.g. smart applications to reduce their emissions;
  • Norms: i.e. the way citizens adjust to and support each other within their social relations.

Those five strategic areas of action were then applied to four different sectors: Energy, Circular Economy, Land Use and Mobility. This exercise within the city’s roadmap resulted in a diverse set of actions that will enable San Sebastián to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Transformative Potential

The development and implementation of San Sebastián’s roadmap represents an innovative process promoting active participation of citizens and collaborative governance. This initiative represents an innovative way on how to introduce climate change objectives into the structures and cultures of a city administration. San Sebastián’s roadmap is an example of a municipality that it is redefining urban climate and energy governance and citizen participation and will hopefully inspire other cities to design and develop similar processes in their contexts.

More Information

File:Donostiako Klima 2050 Ekintza Plana cas.pdf Donastia/San Sebastian 2050 Roadmap

Donostia/San Sebastián city website

Energy cities report


Cities of Tomorrow San Sebastián’s 2050 Roadmap