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What is the Spanish Urban Agenda?


The Spanish Urban Agenda (AUE) is a strategic document of a non-regulatory, and thus voluntary, nature that, in keeping with the criteria set out in the 2030 Agenda, the new United Nations Urban Agenda and the Urban Agenda for the European Union, seeks to achieve sustainability in urban development policies. It is also a work method and a process for all stakeholders, public and private, who are involved in cities and who, from their different areas of activity, seek equitable, fair and sustainable development.

After intensive work and a broad participatory process that lasted almost a year, this integrated urban development strategy offers a Decalogue of Strategic Goals, which, in turn, feature a total of 30 specific goals and 291 lines of action. The end result is a veritable "à la carte menu" that those who are interested in its implementation can use to draw up their own Action Plans. The strategy is based on a broad vision that includes every town and city, regardless of size and population, and relies on a triple focus of economic, social and environmental sustainability.

"There is no single prescription for improving urbanization and achieving sustainable urban development, but the New Urban Agenda provides the principles and tested practices to bring its vision to life, off of these pages and into reality. May it inspire and inform the decision-makers and urban inhabitants of the world to take ownership of our shared urban future. At this critical juncture in human history, rethinking the way we plan, build and manage our urban spaces is not an option but an imperative. Our work to realize this vision begins now".
Extract from the Prologue of the United Nations Urban Agenda, adopted at the Habitat III Conference in October 2016. Quito (Ecuador).

International agendas

The Spanish Urban Agenda (AUE) seeks to comply with the international commitments adopted in accordance with the 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda of the United Nations and the European Urban Agenda.

2030 Agenda

"We must take the first determined steps toward a sustainable future with dignity for all. Transformation is our aim. We must transform our economies, our environment and our societies. We must change old mindsets, behaviours and destructive patterns. We must embrace the integrated essential elements of dignity, people, prosperity, planet, justice and partnership."
The road to dignity by 2030. Synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. United Nations, A/69/700.

In 2015, the UN approved 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, an opportunity for countries and their societies to embark on a new path to improve the lives of everyone, leaving no one behind. The Agenda has 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ranging from eradicating poverty to combating climate change, education, gender equality, environmental protection and the design of our cities. In this regard, SDG 11 pursues cities that are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

United Nations Urban Agenda

In October 2016, the United Nations Urban Agenda was approved in Quito, "a historic opportunity to leverage the key role of cities and human settlements as drivers of sustainable development in an increasingly urbanized world.
Nueva Urban Agenda

The main objective of the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development - Habitat III - was to identify new challenges and strengthen political resolve in order to achieve sustainable urban development through the approval of a "New Urban Agenda", which defines the parameters of the cities of the 21st century.  This is a voluntary, strategic document that presents urbanisation as a powerful instrument for achieving sustainable development, both in developing countries and in developed countries, including Spain.

Urban Agenda for the European Union

(...) Not addressing urban issues at European level, and not having a common European vision of urban development policies - the so-called European "Urban Acquis" - could undermine the achievement of the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda and the EU's sustainable development strategies.
European Commission, 2009: 11.

The Pact of Amsterdam, approved at the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Urban Development of the EU, held on 30 May 2016, embodies the long-awaited EU Urban Agenda . The Agenda proposes a clearly operational approach focused on 3 specific objectives: to improve Community law, especially that which has a direct impact on urban areas; to strive for a more effective design and simpler management of EU financing instruments; and finally, to promote the exchange of knowledge.

Synergies with other agendas and strategies

The Spanish Urban Agenda is a policy lever in the Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Spain that seeks to comply with the international commitments adopted in accordance with the 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda of the United Nations and the European Urban Agenda.

A High Commissioner has been appointed, reporting directly to the President of Spain, to implement the 2030 Agenda in our country. Her main duties include promoting the preparation and development of the plans and strategies needed for Spain to comply with the 2030 Agenda, and monitoring the actions taken by the competent bodies of the national government to comply with the sustainable development goals and the 2030 Agenda.

The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, in close collaboration with the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda in Spain, has been working to create a Spanish Urban Agenda that helps to achieve the sustainable development goals and the 2030 Agenda in Spain.

While drafting the Spanish Urban Agenda (AUE), documents were drawn up to facilitate the work of setting the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda against each of the strategic goals of the AUE. These documents reveal that the goals of the two Agendas are fully compatible with one another and with the other international documents that Spain has committed itself to.

An Agenda for everyone

The Spanish Urban Agenda was drawn up taking into account the contributions of all the key players in urban development. The long, participatory process lasted over a year and a half and began in June 2017, when a group of independent and multidisciplinary experts was created in order to write a zero draft to provide a basis for starting the work. 

The participation was organised around seven different working groups, which in turn led, in some cases, to several sub-groups and even bilateral meetings and contacts.