3 questions to Itziar Urtasun from the city of Bilbao
Itziar Urtasun is the local councilor in charge of Development Cooperation of the city of Bilbao (Spain). We met with her in Bilbao in July and discussed on the city’s involvement in international cooperation, its views on the 2030 Agenda and learnt about the local summer festivities!
- What are the priorities of Bilbao’s development cooperation strategy for the next years and why is it important to maintain the city’s international commitment?
The local government of Bilbao has traditionally demonstrated its commitment with the impoverished countries of the South by favoring co-responsability between partners and promoting global citizenship. The objective for the next electoral period is to plan and effectively implement the city’s development cooperation policy with the priority of fighting structural poverty through the reinforcement of local capacities both in the South and the North and by empowering women at the local level. We believe our society is urging us to keep up with this work, which we included in our campaign programme, once more demonstrating that the people of Bilbao are solidary and committed to reduce inequalities and foster social justice.
- How will you unfold the city’s decentralised cooperation strategy? Where will you be looking at?
The Bilbao city council currently works on the basis of its III Development Cooperation Master Plan, the key instrument establishing the city’s specific priorities and initiatives in the area. This puts the focus on the principles of sustainability, quality, participation and transparency for the making of a fairer and more equal society. The III Master Plan defines the priorities in terms of geographical areas: in Africa (especially Senegal, DRC, Rwanda, Chad and Western Sahara) and Latin America (especially Bolivia). It also stresses the importance of collaborating with local players (development NGOs, Euskal Fondoa, among others) and coordinating strategies with other Basque public institutions.
- How is the city council working on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and what are your views on the opportunities this may raise for the city’s development cooperation policy?
The Bilbao city council recently presented a document called “Diagnosis of the Bilbao City council action on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs” with the intention of showing the feasibility of getting started with it. The elaboration of the diagnosis has allowed us to bring the 2030 Agenda to all the municipal departments with whom we have met on how to better align sectoral plans with the SDGs. Also, one of the new city council’s commitments, included in the “First 100 days’ action plan” is “start implementing the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda through a cross-cutting strategy”. We strongly think that local governments are going to play a major role in the implementation of the SDGs at the local scale, with particular attention to SDG 11 (“inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements”). It is important to work for the international recognition of this role that local governments play in fostering local and global sustainable development.
Itziar Urtasun was interviewed by Laia Vinyes during a secondment in the Basque Country where she met representatives and local officials from Euskadi, Euskal Fondoa and the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation.