BreatheLife welcomes the Province of Pontevedra, a region in Spain of 942,000 citizens which tailors its strategy to the pursuit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda goals, with a particular focus on air quality.
The province joins the campaign with commitments to reducing air pollution— including climate pollutants— in key sectors (such as transport, municipal solid waste, industry and energy production, or through promoting energy efficiency); to improving air quality standards through institutional operations (renewing the institutional fleet according to environmental criteria, adopting ultra-low energy consumption standards for buildings, and so on); and to collaborating with other administrations to create and approve local plans to promote air quality.
“Deputación Pontevedra (Provincial Council of Pontevedra) allocates 20 per cent of its budget to guarantee that all citizens have access to basic sustainable needs as per SDG 11 — Sustainable Cities and Communities, and we work to achieve certain goals, such as the reduction of per capita negative environmental impact of cities, paying special attention to air quality,” said President of the Deputación de Pontevedra, María del Carmen Silva Rego.
“The measures that the Deputación will implement are based on the transport, waste management, energy supply and food sectors, and they will have a direct positive impact on strategic areas such as tourism or the primary sector (viticulture and agriculture),” she said.
In the transport sector, examples of the Province’s many ongoing projects include “Plan MOVESE”, aimed at reducing speed in urban areas, and “Plan DepoRemse”, to improve pedestrian safety in high-density urban areas.
In its ambition to cut emissions from transport, the Province has a living example of success: its capital, Pontevedra, a poster child for the benefits a car-free city centre can bring, attracting media attention and coverage and winning awards for urban transformation.
The city of Pontevedra is one of the most pedestrianized in Spain, its old city and most of its centre allowing only residents’ and service vehicles— even then, maximum speed in the city has been set at 30 kilometres per hour since 2010.
Its efforts to promote active mobility (65 per cent of trips in the city centre are made on foot) have served as an inspiration to other major cities and urban districts in Spain and other parts of Europe.
All these have added up to concrete results, in the form of a 65 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, and, unsurprisingly, a plummeting of fatalities and injuries from traffic to zero.
It’s a success story within the Province of Pontevedra, where transport is one major piece of a larger strategy to reduce air pollution, tackle climate change, and ensure urban sustainability.
In the area of waste management, Deputación Pontevedra is currently promoting “Plan Revitaliza”, which has turned the province into a model of investment in urban solid waste composting, and the ESTRAEE project for the management of electrical and electronic waste financed by the Interreg VA Spain-Portugal Cooperation Programme (POCTEP) from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funds. The Deputación has also applied for Life funds under the EU’s Programme for the Environment and Climate Action 2014-2020 to promote its initiatives “Life CircWeee” (waste recovery of electric equipment, electronics, batteries, accumulators and components) and “Life DeAgua” (wastewater natural treatment systems in rural areas).
The province’s efforts to maximize resource efficiency extend to energy, with sustainable street lighting (LED technology) being rolled out in 43 municipalities across the Province under the Operational Programme for Sustainable Growth ERDF 2014-2020, as well as in seven municipalities considered areas of Cultural Interest.
Finally, in terms of food and agriculture, the Deputación promotes agreements in the food and agriculture sectors to reduce pesticide use in apple farming and organic milk production.
It is developing several specific projects to encourage sustainable farming: the “DepoVerde” project to support fruit, vegetable and beekeeping productions in protected natural spaces; the “DepoApicultura” project to encourage sustainable beekeeping and the “DepoFroitos” program directed to ecological berry production. It is also implementing a program to reduce the use of phytosanitary products, study and assess the impact of climate change on the wine sector, develop remote sensing systems to assess areas affected by wildfires, and conduct studies for forest improvement and the creation of forest parks.
Air quality standards are developed, set and governed by the administration of the autonomous community of Galicia— in which the Province of Pontevedra sits— through its meteorological and climate change agency, which also monitors air quality.
“The Deputación de Pontevedra’s focus is on achieving sustainable development, integrating economic growth, social welfare and environment protection, which are essential foundations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG),” said Deputación President Silva Rego.
“But these goals are inter-linked, and, as our roadmap shows, the projects we are executing and promoting have direct impacts on air quality the reduction of air pollutant emissions,” she said.
Pontevedra is the third Spanish region to join the BreatheLife campaign, after the autonomous regions of Catalonia and Basque.
Follow the Province of Pontevedra’s clean air journey here.
Banner photo by Turismo de Pontevedra S. A.