The Basque Country's Ekoetxea environmental centre network reached the record of 132,771 visits in 2023, with a rating of 9.5 out of 10


Over 34,000 people actively took part in specific environmental experiences at the revamped centres; there were also 2,000 undertakings to change behaviour.

The four centres of the Basque Government's Ekoetxea network of environmental amenities (Urdaibai and Meatzaldea, in Bizkaia; and Txingudi and Azpeitia, in Gipuzkoa) logged a total of 132,771 visits in 2023; over 34,000 of the visitors took part in activities aimed at improving their awareness of and their action to help the environment, while encouraging them to undertake to make an effective change in habits.

The most popular activities with the general public were the cleanup to pick up rubbish on World Environment Day (5 June); the dolphin and whale watching trips of the “Cetáceos a las 10” ["Cetaceans at 10 o'clock"] programme; the digital experience with schoolchildren on World Soil Day (5 December); and the “No te dejes envolver” ["Don't Get Wrapped UP"] campaign targeting families in November as part of the European Week for Waste Production.

The important process to revamp the range of activities at the Ekoetxea centres may be one of the fundamental reasons for the record number of visits to the network in 2023. The changes were aimed at turning the visitors to the centres into people committed to environmental improvement instead of being mere spectators.

To this end, the Ekoetxea network has deployed a new offering of hybrid and in-person experiences, designed using an innovative methodology that allows data to be obtained on participation, level of satisfaction and impact of the activities on the citizens. Consequently, we could ascertain that the degree of satisfaction of the people who took part in the network's 256 experiences in 2023 was 9.5 out of 10.

Generating sustainable commitments

The Ekoetxea network offers a great range of experiences, from treasure hunts through the different natural areas, to escape activities or scavenger hunts, and not forgetting workshops and shows for the whole family. Each activity revolves around a specific environmental area and provides a unique and meaningful experience, to encourage the participants to reflect and take action. Therefore, each one includes a commitment to sustainability, as a way to trigger that change in the way of thinking and acting.

Those experiences are not only in person at the centres. The participants are offered a pre-visit "onboarding" – usually digital – for a more immersive experience. Once at the Ekoetxea, they take part in the activity, which is followed by a digital activity to help consolidate the skills learnt and to encourage the participants to fulfil their sustainable commitment.

Last year, over 2,000 undertakings were entered into by nearly 400 families taking part in different activities. "Committing to sustainable and responsible consumption" was at the top of the ranking of undertakings.  Specifically, the families have undertaken to: take reusable bags when shopping; avoid food waste and correctly separate waste at home and put them in the right containers.

The Ekoetxea network community currently numbers over 5,000 people; the users of its social media and website, which had 122,771 visits last year, have also increased significantly.

School Programme     

The Ekoetxea network has been closely linked to the Basque school community right from the very start. Its commitment to innovation and continuous improvement has led to the adaptation and redefining of the offering of the School Programme.

During 2023, the part aimed at education centres reached nearly 30,000 pupils aged from 3 to 18; their learning experiences covered biodiversity, climate change and the circular economy, to name a few.