Barcelona, European Green Capital?

21/09/2010 at 20:00 4 comentarios

The new European Green Capitals for 2012 and 2013 will be announced at the end of October. One of the candidates is Barcelona, the city where I live. Is Barcelona up to the high standards set by Stockholm (European Green Capital 2010) and Hamburg (European Green Capital 2011)?

The first impression is NO, Barcelona can be a lot of nice things, but definitely not a green city. But, what is a green city anyway?

Let’s have a look at some of the selection criteria to be a Green Capital:

  • Local contribution to global climate change. It would be very interesting to know how Barcelona is contributing to reducing its carbon footprint, not only by cutting down the emissions “in” the city, but also the emissions caused outside the city (for example, when goods are imported from very far away). Only by reducing the overall carbon footprint we can say that a city is sustainable and contributes to fighting global climate change.
  • Local transport. The local transportation system is very good and covers practically all the metropolitan area with subway and commuter trains. However, too many cars are still in the streets. Parking on the outskirts should be possible, as well as some kind of tax to discourage people from using their cars. Barcelona has an advanced bike sharing system called bicing. This system has become very popular and, thanks to it, bicycles have become a familiar sight in a city where cars are still the kings of the road. Unfortunately, the bike lane system has not been improved accordingly, and bikers (me included) still feel very unsafe riding on the road.  Car restrictions and bike lanes are definitely things to improve, very urgently. Improve intermodal transport as well (bike+subway+train).
  • Green urban areas. In Stockholm, 95% of the population lives close to green areas. Obviously, that does not happen in Barcelona, although that depends on the definition of a “green area”. Unfortunately, Barcelona has got no room for more parks; the city is packed with buildings. But the parks already existing should be more protected. Good news: the mountain of Collserola will be declared Natural Park soon.
  • Nature and biodiversity. I hope that the declaration of Collserola as Natural Park will mean real protection for the biodiversity of the city, as well as provide with ecological corridors for the species. There is a lot to be done, like the interconnection of the different parks (especially in the upper town), as well as especial protection for Montjuïc (one of the hills surrounding Barcelona).

View of Barcelona from Collserola Park

  • Noise pollution: This is one aspect where Barcelona really has to improve, starting with the noise pollution caused by public vehicles (waste trucks etc.) and continuing with creating a culture of quietness among citizens (also with fines, not only through advertising)
  • Waste production and management are improving in Barcelona, especially waste management. More and more citizens are recycling their waste (from 20,000 tons glass in 2003 to 31,000 tons in 2009) and city campaigns are rising people’s awareness.
  • Water consumption and waste water treatment. Well, this is a point where Barcelona can be really proud. Water consumption per capita is one of the lowest in Europe, thanks to campaigns and citizens’ change of attitude. Water consumption per capita was only 116 litres per person and day, compared to 503 in New York.
  • The programme of communication of environmental actions is one of the big flaws of the City’s green activities. In fact, Barcelona’s bid as European Green Capital is unknown to the main public. It’s almost an information for insiders.

One last remark: Knowing that the City has also applied for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, how credible is Barcelona’s green bid? For me, it’s hard to believe that a Mediterranean city that wants to organise such an unsustainable winter event is at the same time bidding to be “the” European Green Capital.


Entry filed under: Sustainability. Tags: , , , , , .

CSR for the people Voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility: The Power of Convictions

4 comentarios Add your own

  • 1. genona  |  22/09/2010 en 08:46

    Yes, Barcelona as a European green capital does sound like a joke: its nomination could mean a complete devaluation of the Green Capital brand.

    • 2. Juan Villamayor  |  22/09/2010 en 10:32

      I agree, the green and sustainability cause needs to fight for credibility. Being a green capital is something Barcelona should strive for in the future; however, nowadays we dont deserve that title yet

  • 3. emilio  |  22/09/2010 en 13:43

    I live in Madrid…..I think I don´t have to say any more. We are so far in a lot of these items.

    But some people in my “area” (professional and geographical) are trying to change. A good eixample of a good professional who believes in a real sustainable architecture concept:

    • 4. Juan Villamayor  |  22/09/2010 en 14:23

      Thanks for your comment and the interesting link! Sometimes just a little common sense is what it takes to be sustainable. I wish all residential buildings were built like that one on the article!



Por favor, inicia sesión con uno de estos métodos para publicar tu comentario:

Logo de

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Google+ photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google+. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )


Conectando a %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Juan Villamayor

Consultor en Responsabilidad y Sostenibilidad Empresarial (RSE). Economista y MBA radicado en Barcelona, con un perfil eminentemente internacional.

Es posible generar más valor mientras se aplican principios éticos. Al final todos salen beneficiados: las empresas, la sociedad y el medio ambiente. Eso es lo que yo llamo "Negocios Con Sentido Común".

Página web de Juan


Introduzca su dirección de email para suscribirse a este blog y recibir notificaciones por email cada vez que se publique un nuevo artículo.

Únete a otros 3.702 seguidores

Juan Villamayor en Twitter

Artículos anteriores

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: