News Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing

The Basque Country to welcome leading world experts at its International Climate Change Conference in March and organised by the Basque Government’s Ministry of the Environment

2018 October 15


  • 600 delegates and 50 of the world’s leading climate change experts are expected to gather at the 3-day Conference, whose slogan is Change the Change.
  • The Conference will be structured into 8 thematic panels that will address the planet’s health, the role of the regions, the urban environment, sustainability, energy transition, the economy, education and women’s leadership
  • It will also showcase the “heroes and heroines of the planet", with thought-provoking talks by people at the cutting-edge of climate change in different areas.
  • The Conference is part of the Basque Country’s Climate Change Week, when a wide range of activities with something for everyone will be organised in the three provinces. The aim will be to call the general public to action. 
  • The Basque Country has produced a climate atlas and future projections on the impact of climate change there until the end of the 21st century. The Basque Country has the KLIMA 2050 strategy to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change and is working on its new Climate Change Act.


The Basque Government’s Minister for the Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing, Iñaki Arriola, today announced that the Basque Country will be hosting the Change the Change International Climate Change Conference in San Sebastián on 6, 7 and 8 March 2019. The event, which expects to gather together 600 participants from the business world, local administration, university, technology centres, research centres, NGOs and social organisations, seeks to lead the climate change debate with top-tier speakers and to open up new opportunities for action in our environment.

During the presentation, Minister Arriola was accompanied by Valvanera Ulargui, the Director of the Climate Change Office at the Spanish Government’s Ministry for the Ecological Transition, José Ignacio Asensio, the Councillor for the Environment and Hydraulic Works at Gipuzkoa Provincial Council, and Ernesto Gasco, Deputy Mayor at Donostia/San Sebastián City Council.  These three institutions are organising the Conference along with the Basque Government.

Over three days, 50 of the world’s leading climate change experts will explain their strategic approach during thought-provoking 90-minute sessions, when there will also be time for discussion and debate. The sessions will be structured into 8 thematic panels that will address the planet’s health, the role of the regions, the urban environment, sustainability, energy transition, the economy, education and women’s leadership. The presence of the Spanish Government's Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, has been confirmed for the opening sessions, whose speech will consider Spain's position regarding climate change and in the European context.

Furthermore, on each of the days, the thematic panels will be complemented with a "heroes and heroines of the planet" special session.  These people are running innovative initiatives and projects for climate change action and awareness in different fields and at different points around the world. The aim is to shift the theoretical climate change debate to real projects that are proving to be successful.

Precisely, the Conference is being held during the Basque Country's Climate Change Week in order to stress that climate change concerns us all.  During the first week of March 2009, a wide range of activities with something for everyone will be organised at different places throughout the Basque Country. Sectors such as industry, science, politics and culture will be invited to take part by means of micro-encounters, presentation of innovative projects, exhibitions and other parallel acts. The aim is to rally the public to make a personal commitment to fight climate change, on the premise that any action, however small, makes a difference.


Eight thematic panels

Coming under the UN “Momentum for Change” initiative and in line with the Paris Agreement, the Change the Change International Climate Change Conference will provide a cutting-edge vision of the climate change challenges facing the planet and will showcase the initiatives and actions that are making a difference to our environment.

The 8 panels at the Change the Change Conference will address the following areas:


  1. The planet’s health: science for action. Over the last 200 years, humanity has left such a profound mark on the environment that the scientific community has defined a new geological era: the era of human impact on Planet Earth or Anthropocene. The scientific community has raised the alarm about the climate situation and conducted the necessary monitoring and studies to put forward policies to combat climate change. This panel wishes to consider the scientific approach to climate change, pinpoint challenges and how to focus the responses, convinced that knowledge is what is driving the action to such a global challenge.


  1. Regional setting. Climate change is a threat that can only be overcome through cooperation. Regional, local and subnational governments worldwide are showing a level of commitment to climate change that often exceeds the very ambition of the States. The leadership of the regions is being bolstered by international networks such as nrg4SD or the Under2 coalition, where regions are pooling experiences and expertise so that global warming does not exceed the 2 ºC established in the Paris Agreement. This panel will showcase the experiences of the regions particularly committed to fighting climate change and how they are facing the main challenges in their territories.


  1. The world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 and 70% will be living in urban areas. Twenty cities are forecast to have over 15 million inhabitants, 4 of which will be in China, by 2030. That growth raises challenges for the quality of life and environmental sustainability and also pushes natural resources to their limits. This panel will be the showcase for experiences and measures that are already being adopted in the cities, climate action from the local level and the view of what should be the course and priorities of these actions.


  1. On 25 September 2015, nearly 200 world leaders adopted a set of global goals to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for everyone as part of a new sustainable development agenda. They are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Global Goals. This panel will analyse the international progress in sustainability policies, the application of the 2030 Agenda, their involvement with climate change and the future challenges facing us.


  1. Energy transition. The major point of discussion is currently the transition of the current energy model based on fossil fuels towards a sustainable economy based on renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable development. A new energy model has to be developed in accordance with the needs of the citizens, of companies and the environment.  And this all must take place with maximum integration in the European market. This panel will considered the different aspects involved in achieving a fair energy transition.


  1. The economy. Climate change has become a major challenge for the world economy. At the same time, climate change is leading to new economic models and movements such as the circular economy, the shared or collaborative economy, the economy for the Common Good and responsible finances, which seek to generate value beyond the economic and are aimed at a more sustainable society. How to face this global economic challenge from financial and banking system or from the insurance sector will be some of the topics discussed on this panel


  1. Education, culture and society. Climate change is a cross-cutting challenge that impacts many different sectors leading to cultural and social changes. The effect of climate change on the agroforestry, fisheries and food sector, including on health, safety and transport, raises new challenges that have to be addressed from the perspective of housing and urban planning, culture, waste management or citizen awareness. Social transformations that have to occur as the result of climate change and how to address them are the focal point of this panel.


  1. Leadership of women. Women and their leadership are impacting our society at an unstoppable rate by providing a different vision in many different spheres. A vision called on to transform society, which makes driving the role of women fundamental in terms of any action to be implemented regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation. This panel, made up entirely of women, will showcase accounts and experiences of women that are helping to truly transform the perspective from which the problems of climate change are being addressed.


Climate change in the Basque Country

The first step in the fight against climate change is to predict what future climate conditions will be.  The Basque Country has therefore produced a climate atlas with daily data from 1971-2015 and with spatial high resolution for 4 basic variables (precipitation, average temperatures, maximum temperature and minimum temperature). This atlas is completed by climate change projections until the end of 21st century, in line with the climate trend projections coordinated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the international arena.  

The atlas and the projection scenarios provide useful data for the territory and sector analysis of the impacts of climate change in the Basque Country in the coming decades. Some of the most significant indicate an increase of the minimum temperatures in winter and the maximum ones in summer; a drop in precipitation and more extreme events; heating of the water temperature and rising sea level; along with the impacts on the crops, forests and human health.


KLIMA 2050 Strategy and new Climate Change Act

The Basque Government is already working on designing the future Basque Climate Change Act. It currently has the KLIMA 2050 Strategy, the instrument shared by all the Government’s ministries to reinforce the actions implemented so far and to adopt new measures to mitigate and adapt the territory to the effects of climate change.

The goals of the KLIMA 2050 Strategy are ambitious.  The most outstanding are to cut greenhouse gas emissions, that cause climate change, by 40% in the Basque Country by 2030; and to be committed to a low-carbon energy model, where renewable energy consumption of 40% of final consumption is expected to be achieved by 2050.

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Politicians attending the event
(XI term 2016 - 2020)
Other guests
  • Ernesto Gasco, Ayuntamiento de San Sebastián; José Ignacio Asensio, Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa; Valvanera Ulargui, directora de la Oficina de Cambio Climático del Gobierno de España