The Basque Country spearheading subnational governments at a COP where they are part of the official programme for the first time


A declaration calling for faster and more ambitious climate action worldwide has been signed at the Dubai COP28 by the Local Government and Municipal Authorities Constituency, which unites the voices of over 40 regional governments and networks, including Regions4, chaired by the Basque Country

Aitor Aldasoro: “The climate and energy transition has to be demanding and ambitious in attaining the targets set; it is therefore fundamental for the COPs to evolve towards a model where the decisions are not only made by the States; and we will be heard in the official debate for the first time at this year's COP”

The Basque Country is ready for intense activity at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which is being held in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) from 30 November to 12 December; it will be spearheading the subnational governments, after getting the COP presidency to address the long-standing demand of the regions to have a relevant presence and their own voice at the global climate summits. 

Thus, the Local Climate Action Summit – from 1 to 2 December and organised by the COP28 presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies – will bring together local and regional leaders for the first time within the official programme, with the aim of establishing a new paradigm to address climate action in a fully integrated manner at all levels of government.

The Local Governments and Municipal Authorities Constituency (LGMA) – representing over 40 subnational governments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)  and which include Regions4, chaired by the Basque Country, and Under2 Coalition, of which is the Basque Country is a member of the Executive Committee –, the European Committee of the Regions; Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments (UCLG); and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) have issue a joint declaration in Dubai to call for greater participation of regional governments in the global review of the climate actions that will be conducted for the first time this year, along with greater speed and ambition in their deployment by the states present at the summit.

Regarding the declaration, the Basque Government's Deputy Minister for Environmental Sustainability Aitor Aldasoro, explained that it is needed because “regional governments worldwide are seeing how their communities, economies, institutions and infrastructures, and critical resources are being directly impacted. Furthermore, they are showing bold leadership for the necessary transformations towards resilient economies and territories.  However, there is a significant deficit in the financing of the adaptation to climate change. In order to drive change at local level, the financing should pivot towards supporting subnational levels; and empowering regional authorities by allowing them direct participation and their own voice, thus accelerating climate action."

According to Aldasoro, “the climate and energy transition has to be demanding and ambitious in attaining the targets set; it is therefore fundamental for the COPs to evolve towards a model where the decisions are not only made by the States, but include countries such as ours, that are calling for decision-making clout; and we will be heard in the official debate for the first time at this year's COP.”

According to the European Committee of the Regions, regions are more directly affected by the negative impacts of climate change and lead up to 75% of the mitigation measures and up to 90% of the climate change adaptation measures.

Basque delegation at COP28

The delegation headed by the Basque Government's Deputy-Minister for Environmental Sustainability, Aitor Aldasoro, and its Natural Heritage and Climate Change Director, Adolfo Uriarte, are at the summit to showcase the main advances in climate change adaptation in the Basque Country thanks to the policies implemented by the Basque Government, which have led to it being recognised as a leading region in this field in the European Union. 

The declaration presented at the climate summit yesterday stresses the key role that subnational governments play when turning climate goals into practical and localised actions, as well as into efficient use of the public resources.  That multilevel government also includes towns, cities, counties, territories, provinces, regions, and states.

“We are crucial and essential stakeholders in a just and resilient transition towards net zero. We are driving climate action at local level by means of our policies, regulations, and investments in infrastructures, which in turn incentivise new investments and innovations of the private sector by sending strong signs to the market. We are also the first to be prepared and respond to the losses and damages associated to climate change, and we have developed robust local and regional adaptation plans," the signatories to the declaration stressed.  The declaration also points out that even though progress is coming out of national plans and strategies, their application "continues to be slow, uneven and gradual". 

The Basque Country, along with the other signatories, argues that "we, subnational governments, can support national governments in raising their climate targets to ensure a global halving of emissions by 2030, keep temperatures rises to 1.5C by 2050 and translate those national targets into effective policies and action on the ground.  However, this demands harmonized action between all Parties and subnational governments, with the Parties playing an enabling role for subnational action”. They then call for the recognition of the role of subnational governments in leading "locally and regionally led adaptation actions and plans and allow for their meaningful inclusion within the Global Goal on Adaptation Framework".

Basque Country Schedule at COP28

The Basque Country is seen as an international example given it is long track record in local and regional actions, programmes, strategies and policies in climate action, its involvement in European projects such as Urban Klima 2050, Regions4 Climate, the Kostaegoki project or its belonging to the EU Climate Change Adaptation Mission. COP28 will be the opportunity to share those experiences thanks to its participation in different events and the scheduled round of bilateral meetings with other subnational governments and regions.

The schedule has begun with Deputy Minister Aitor Aldasoro, along with representatives of European and Latin American cities, taking part in the 'Decarbonisation and Resilience in Subnational Governments of Latin America and Europe. From Theory to Implementation’ panel, in which the Basque company Global Factor and the Latin American and Caribbean Development Bank (BID Invest) also participated.

In turn, the Natural Heritage and Climate Change Director, Adolfo Uriarte, has presented the adaptation measures that the Basque Country is implementing along the coast by means of nature-based solutions. On 3 December, the Basque Country will be intervening in the Under2 Coalition General Assembly, of which it is a member of the executive committee.

On 6 December, the Natural Heritage and Climate Change Director will take part in two events at the pavilion of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  The first is organised by the Basque Country together with the Regions4 network and is entitled 'Catalysts of Change: Subnational Leadership in the Application of Innovative Nature-Based Solutions'. On that same day, it will be present at a high-level meeting to recognise the role that the "Biodiversity and Climate Champions" play, which will be attended by Razan Al Mubarak, President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature-IUCN and Climate Champion for COP28.

During the summit, the Basque delegation will hold different bilateral meetings with other subnational governments, including the Government of Sao Paulo, the Scottish Government, Jiangsu Government, the Consortium of Autonomous Provincial Governments of Ecuador-CONGOPE, and with the Initiative for the Advancement of Ethical Standard (INADES), an entity with which the Basque Country has been working since 2018 through the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation, to implement good practices in rural Africa regarding inclusive governance and to address the impacts of climate change.