The subsidy order from the Department of Economic Development, Sustainability, and Environment of the Basque Government, approved today in the Cabinet, will allocate 4.2 million euros to local entities that carry out actions promoting sustainable development. The total amount of these grants aims to align municipal action with the environmental priorities established in the 5th Environmental Framework Program of the Basque Country and with the main international guidelines on sustainable development.

The subsidies are intended for municipalities, associations of municipalities, local councils, and other local territorial entities below the municipal level, such as districts, regions, local autonomous bodies, local development agencies, local commercial companies, local public business entities, local consortia, and local public foundations.

The call for grants, which is scheduled to be published in the Official Gazette of the Basque Country on July 6th, will be open until August 7th and establishes as a mandatory requirement that projects have been initiated from January 1st, 2023. Specifically, actions in areas such as contaminated land and soil protection, climate change, natural heritage, circular economy, local eco-innovation, education for sustainability, and ASTEKLIMA 2023 may benefit from these subsidies.

In the field of contaminated land and soil protection, eligible actions under the call include inventories, soil regeneration, research on potentially contaminated soils and industrial buildings, remediation of contaminated soils, environmental recovery of industrial facilities, and environmental monitoring. An allocation of 750,000 euros will be dedicated to this section.

Climate change represents the largest allocation of grants.

With a budget of 1 million euros, the climate change program includes financial assistance for the design and implementation of low-emission zones in municipalities with a population of between 5,000 and 50,000 inhabitants, the creation of cycling paths that enable the connection of mobility generators, as well as the establishment of park-and-ride facilities and improvement actions for the same. Additionally, subsidies are foreseen for carbon absorption through afforestation and reforestation processes covering at least one hectare of wooded area with native species. Adaptation actions to climate change are also included in the program, with specific grants for the development of climate and energy plans, as well as other urban interventions that promote and utilize nature-based solutions. Furthermore, the program includes activities such as risk and adaptation studies of the coastal environment and measures to reduce the risk of coastal flooding as a result of the projected sea level rise.

In the field of natural heritage, grants will be awarded to projects that promote the conservation, restoration, or improvement of biodiversity and geodiversity. Possible actions include restoration, improvement, or management for the conservation of natural habitats of community or regional interest, protection and conservation projects for threatened flora and fauna species, actions contributing to ecological connectivity of the territory, and the promotion of green infrastructure. Assistance will also be provided to enhance opportunities in the local context that involve the recovery of environmentally degraded areas, subsidies for the protection of sites of geological interest, as well as for the cleaning of waste from riverbanks and watercourses. The budget allocated for this program amounts to 750,000 euros.

In the circular economy section, with a budget of 500,000 euros, the call for grants includes support for actions related to food waste prevention, selective collection of organic matter from large operators, implementation of systems that prevent the generation of non-selectively collected waste, feasibility studies for new community composting facilities, measures contributing to the reduction of packaging consumption, management of structural asbestos, plastic collection in the sea or river courses, and selective demolition of municipal buildings, among others.

The program includes subsidies for local eco-innovation, prioritizing the innovative nature of the initiatives that are implemented for the first time in our territory or that can be transferable or replicated. This section also provides funding for projects that contribute to the goals of the Basque Country’s 2030 Soil Protection Strategy, which includes sustainable management and reduction of land occupation. Additionally, grants are foreseen for actions that enhance local opportunities for the development of transformative projects that promote soil protection, studies for minimizing excavated earth movements, actions for improving authorization and management of landfills. Assistance is also provided for innovative actions promoting the use of nature-based solutions in urban and peri-urban environments, aimed at preventing risks associated with climate change, as well as innovative circular economy actions that contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The allocated budget for this line of grants amounts to 600,000 euros.

Regarding education for sustainability, a budget of 400,000 euros is allocated for subsidizing actions that promote coordination between Local Agenda 21 or Local 2030 Agenda and the School Agenda 21, carried out from July 1, 2023, to July 15, 2024.

Finally, the call establishes a financial allocation of up to 200,000 euros for activities aimed at mobilizing citizens in the fight against climate change within the framework of ASTEKLIMA-Climate and Energy Week. The fourth edition of this event, promoted by the Department of Economic Development, Sustainability, and Environment, through its public entities Ihobe – Basque Government’s Public Environmental Management Company and the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), will take place between Friday, September 22, and October 1, 2023.

Source: Basque Government