The Ekoetxea Network transforms itself to encourage citizens to commit to sustainability


As a result of a broad strategic review, the Basque Network of Environmental Centres is developing experiences that are aimed at raising awareness of the climate emergency and promoting specific actions. As a result, Ekoetxea will go beyond the vision of nature interpretation centres and become a network of environmental centres aimed at contributing towards eco-social transformation.

The Ekoetxea network is managed by the Basque Government through its public company, Ihobe. In parallel to its digital transformation, it initiated a shared reflection that has led to a deeper change, making it a reference point for citizens and an instrument at the service of public policy objectives.

The structure of this new network is now both in-person and digital and also more extensive. At its core are the four current centres themselves: Txingudi, UrdaibaiAzpeitia and Meatzaldea, to which Añana, in Álava, which is under construction, will be added. At the second level of this structure, the collaborating centres will contribute significant experiences in line with the purpose of the network. Finally, Ekoetxea Digitala has been added, a digital ecosystem in which to showcase and provide new services in an interactive way.

The network is revamped

Climate change is one of the most urgent environmental problems that needs to be tackled worldwide. The Basque Government is developing its own roadmap to achieve an economic model in which industry and technology are the main drivers of the climate and energy transition.

The challenge of tackling the current climate emergency requires ambitious targets at all levels of government, together with public commitment to changing habits and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. This is where the Network's new purpose comes in: ‘Changing the way people think and act in a sustainable way’. A revamped mission based on three pillars:

This way of influencing people by inspiring them is intended to make them broaden their outlook and take action, by getting involved in making changes at a grassroots level, with everyday behaviours and gestures. The Network will thus become Ihobe's tool for mobilising citizens to tackle one of the great challenges: to halve greenhouse gases by 2030 and reduce them to zero by 2050.

The new Network will expand and become a hybrid network

More than half a million citizens in the Basque Country have visited Ekoetxea centres in the last 5 years.

These Ekoetxea facilities were created with the aim of educating and raising awareness of the need to improve the world we live in through the interpretation of biodiversity. The transformation process currently underway is intended to respond to the various challenges of the ecological transition we are facing as a society.

Ekoetxea, the new Basque Network of Environmental Facilities is making a decisive contribution to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the challenges arising from the Basque Green Deal through its own centres and collaborating centres.                                                      

This new hybrid Network is made up of different public and private entities and different actors with diverse visions, and will form an ecosystem and an organisation that will evolve from a collaborative culture to a culture of networked learning and the value of the collective.

The process of change and the first results

The process of elaborating the new Ekoetxea Network strategy was carried out in 2022 through a comprehensive approach for which three teams were created: the Driver, Prototyping and Strategic teams.

The first phase took place between February and July 2022, starting the metamorphosis with several working sessions between the Driver team, made up of educators from the Ekoetxea centres together with educational advisers from the Basque Government's Environmental Education service, and the Prototyping team, which included the coordinators from each centre in the Ekoetxea Network and other educators.

In the second “Experimentation” phase, which ran from September to December 2022, eight prototypes were created and launched in 2023 at the four Network centres.

The results of the process are being seen both in the way the organisation is managed and in the services it provides, as the Network has a new purpose and mission, as well as a new hybrid network culture.

A data driven organisation

Management, based on data, that can be used to measure, analyse and make decisions, will now take different groups of people into account, based on their environment, motivation and profile. In this sense, data is the raw material for adapting programming and creating new possibilities. They are the tool that ensure that the focus is on the customer, allowing the impact of the actions to be measured.

During 2023, the Network started its journey to becoming a “data driven” organisation, aware of the two major challenges it faces in this field: the digitalisation of data collection and the implementation of a data-driven culture.

The future

In view of the new challenges identified, 2023 is seen by the Ekoetxea Network as a year for promoting and implementing the Strategy and the new Network model, and 2024 as a year for consolidating and promoting it.

An action plan has been drawn up to carry out this transformation, which includes 32 actions, including the 10 below.

  1. Obtain data to measure the sustainable behaviour of citizens.
  2. Complete the rings of the Ekoetxea Network in order to consolidate it as the Basque Network of Environmental Centres
  3. Create the Ihobe driver team, made up of technical staff from the different environmental policies.
  4. Design new services and experiences from the perspective of the new strategy.
  5. Improve users' experience of the permanent exhibitions at the centres.
  6. Design and implement a new management model for Ekoetxea’s own centres and collaborating centres.
  7. Position the Network and its centres as facilities that are accessible to citizens and active agents in their different environments.
  8. Learn more about the insights of the different groups of people.
  9. Adapt the current communication model to the needs of the new strategy.
  10. Develop Ekoetxea Digitala as a content portal.

In short, all of these actions and transformations are aimed at ensuring that the Ekoetxea Network continues to help people increase their commitment, by monitoring results, reporting achievements and setting new challenges. Only by working together will we be able to stop climate change.

It is time to combine the digital transition with the ecological transition in a fair and sustainable way. The time has come to take action. The future is now.