Balance & Imbalance Territorial Development Strategies of the Basque City-Region / Euskal Hiria: Contribution from the Governance and Social Innovation perspective > Bilbao- Basque Country (Spain)

The paper title “Balance & Imbalance Territorial Development Strategies of the Basque City-Region/Euskal Hiria: Contribution from the Social Innovation and Governance perspective”, was accepted and presented on 19th December, 2013 at Klimagune 2013, organized by the BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change in Bilbao, Basque Country (Spain).

After 2012-2013 field work research about the Basque City-Region / Euskal Hiria:

  1. Public Sector: Basque Government-Energy, Bilbao City Council, San Sebastian European Capital of Culture 2016,…
  2. Private Sector: LKS, Deloitte, Adegi, Fundación Metropoli, …
  3. Academia: Ikerbasque, University of Deusto, UPV, UOC (Cat), Malmö University (Oresund),…
  4. Civil Society: Social Movements > Transition Movement (UK) & DOT Desazkundea.
  5. Entrepreneurs/Activists: Individuals > Kukutza, Zaramari, HubDonostia, Destiempo Urbano, Paisaje Transversal, …

#EH2012: “Think Tank Euskal Hiria & Basque City”. Igor Calzada (@icalzada) by Euskal Hiria

  • 4.- Meanwhile, gathering and sharing the on-going work-in-progress open research online:

4.1.- A Local/Internal platform (in Basque&Spanish)


4.2.- A Global/External platform (in English)


Basque City-Region(s) <> Balance & (Im)Balance

*Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s quoted taken from Illuminations > Essays & Reflections:

“Any order is a balancing act of extreme precariousness”

Euskal Hiria(k) Orekak & (Des)Orekak from icalzada

  • 6.- Recommending to the Basque Government a proposal that was disseminated by Euskadi+Innova with this quote: “Basque City-Region will be built up as a consequence of the participation of all the social agents”
  • 7.- Carrying out field work research interviewing more than 100 discussants in the Basque Country representing different stakeholders groups.
  • 8.- Gathering some direct observation data about the strategies, organizational behavior and feed-back (if there has been any response) of the analyzed stakeholders from the Critical Social Innovation perspective and their commitment in the real territorial development strategy beyond isolated and disconnected institutional unilateral actions. I can argue that:
    • We are kidnapped by a narrow political view that actually it is not encouraging an open territorial entrepreneurial attitude for being the engine of our current socioeconomic challenges; while what it is required is exactly the opposite: an institutional brave and transparent leadership towards an increasingly connected policy making practices and vision, avoiding self-justifying short-term institutional old-fashioned behaviors.
    • As Morgan (2013) argues: “More locally connected & more internationally engaged”. That has been so far the research vision of the Euskal Hiria from the Critical Social Innovation embodied in a potential Experimental Governance model.
    • Nevertheless, having said that, policy making is also as Benjamin suggested: “an balancing act of extreme precariousness”. Hence, even in the Basque Country, Public Administration should embrace the social complexity nature of our collective decision making processes, diverse participation among stakeholders and also territorial hindrances. I call it Experimental Governance and in the last 12 years there’s been a lack of vision and attempts from the Basque Regional Government in this direction. In contrast, the political way deployed by some Social Movements tried to argue against the Spatial Planning Directives reflects also a lack of visionary democratic mature dialectic skills.

Balance & Imbalance
Territorial Development Strategies of the Basque City-Region>
Contribution from the Governance & Critical Social Innovation perspective


  • This paper seeks to make a pragmatic proposal set against the background of sustainability transitions in the context of climate change, specifically taking into consideration the geography of the Basque Autonomous Community, and highlighting the existence of Challenges and Obstacles between the infrastructure and natural resources in their urban environments.
  • Likewise, bearing in mind the spatial configuration of the urban environment that is created jointly by the Basque geographies and known as “Basque City” —which has been designed and implemented over the past decade from an institutional framework—, and by a specific spatial strategy (to be precise from the DOT/LAA Spatial Planning Directives) of the Sub-Ministry for Spatial Planning of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community), the author’s main contribution is as follows: Ciudad-Región Vasca consistent with the conclusions in the Scientific Directive of last year’s Congress “Euskal Hiria 2012 — Ciudad-Región Vasca — Basque City-Region” and bearing in mind the content of this year’s congress, it can be said, when studying the dynamics of the promoters, that:

(a) so far, limited and erroneous use has been made under the terms of the “Euskal Hiria” institutional brand,

(b) DOT/LAA-Spatial Planning Directives, there have been some specific spatial strategies in connection with the City-Region concept, which take growth as the only paradigm into consideration, and which have led to Balances and Imbalances among the stakeholders, and

(c) what is needed is a far-reaching contribution from Social Innovation with a true model of Governance to guide processes for change in Social Capital and Transitions towards Sustainability in the context of Climate Change. There is no doubt that diffuse geographies like the Urban Centre and, specifically, the City-Region, inevitably need spatial strategies that will drive forward dynamics that will continually explore possibilities for transformation.

  • The immediate role of cities, as social–ecological and technical networks, is to explore their transformability capacities by strengthening their social capital and fostering opportunities in the process of change. Therefore, in a nutshell, what question would the paper be seeking to answer? This one: by analyzing the Policies and Strategies in Spatial Planning of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community in a long period of 10 years: How could we incorporate the lessons of Social Innovation to achieve a model of Governance suited to the Basque City-Region in the Transitions towards Sustainability in the Context of Climate Change? What would these Spatial Strategies shared and agreed upon among all the players be? Therefore, How could we create a fresh, bottom-up-based “Euskal Hiria” brand and a model of participatory Governance based on actions instead of on indisputable spatial policies?

Klimagune2013 bc3 Balance & Imbalance Territorial Development Strategies of the Basque City-Region 19thDec2013 Bilbo from icalzada

  • Anyway, territory will not longer be what we see and simply we should start considering other factors as climate change and its impact on us. As Schopenhauer said:

All truth (even more when it is related to the #socinn)
passes 3 stages >

1st, it is ridiculed
2nd, it is violently opposed
3rd, it is accepted as being self-evident

> Therefore, the same will happen to the Euskal Hiria & Basque City

The point is:
What will be the cost paid by social scientists while in the wrong hands of political decision makers or mass social opinion builders?

For me this is the next research question then:

“What would a complete or generalized formation of (r)urbanization [in our @Euskal_Hiria] entail,
in experiential, social, spatial and environmental terms?”

(Brenner, 2014: 34)

  • Meanwhile, non-stop developing a Comparative Regional Research comparing, observing and working with other territories such as: Oresund, Iceland, Dublin, Portland, Liverpool/Manchester, Scotland and Catalonia.
  • Having said that, from the Academia we urge an respectful Public Sector managing the common resources envisaging an Experimental Governance with responsibility, open mind and collaborative sense, strategic perspective and respect to the social scientists here and there, contributing as many others adding their best value and working in order to build bridges in-between stakeholders, making the effort for a better territory generally speaking, better community particularly building. #Respect

12 urte eta gero, Euskal Hiria marka instituzionalaren kudeaketak eta eragin duen erreakzioen laburbilketa bat eginez, #Klimagune2013 Workshop-ean nere paperraren ekarpen eraikitzailea bezain zuzenarekin, bi ideia nagusirekin ematen dut amaitutzat The Future of City-Regions <> Comparative Territorial Benchmarking & Connections proiektuaren hiri-eskualde kasu erreferentea den @Euskal_Hiria diagnosi laburtua.

1.- Gaurdaino, eta inongo ebidentzia frogagarririk ematen ez den bitartean, ondoriozta dezakegu:
Euskal Hiria, marka institituzional, kontra-marka zibil, aglomerazio estrategia enpresarial eta akademiaren banaketa partikular endogamiko gisa funtzionatu duen neurrian >
Batipat, Erakunde/Administrazio eta Gizarte-Mugimenduek porrot egin dutela Lurralde Garapen Estrategia bateratu bat erdiesteko euskal geografientzat. Izan ere, lurraldearen kudeaketa konplexuak bere baitan baitakar, Oreka vs Desorekan ulertzea lurraldea, Euskal_Hiria bera.

2.- Ondorioz, ingurugiro, ekonomi eta gizarte urgentziak behartuta, Aldaketa Klimatikoak bere baitan biltzen dituen agenteekin, dirudienez balizkoagoa izango dela bottom-up Gobernantza Eredu demokratikoa garatzea datozen 5 urteetan Euskal Herrian.

Ikertzaile bezala ondorioztatuz, Lurralde Antolaketa, arkitekturaren ikuspuntu zurrunetik abiatu delarik, ezinean ibili dela, bestelako pentsamolde batzuk txertatzeko, eguneroko DOT/LAAen gobernantza eredu irekiago bati. Dudarik gabe, disziplinabakarreko ikuspuntuaren gabeziak, mugak, disziplinarteko aroan jada.

Alegia, Lurralde Antolaketak Euskal_Hiria rekin lortu ez duena 12 urteetan, posible da Aldaketa Klimatikoak lortzea datozen 5 urteetan.
Esan honi, jarraitzen dio baita ere, egitate epistemologiko bat: Gizarte Berrikuntzak pentsamentu arrazionalistak egin zuena, alegia banaketa disziplinarioa, berriro batzen saiatzen ari da. Aldaketa klimatikoa izanik, zerbait bada, disziplinarteko erantzun global konplexu baten erronka lurralde batentzat. Gizarte Berrikuntza beti baita eraginkor eta sinesgarria izan beharra daukat, beti ere Gizarte Eraldaketa gisa ulertzen bada bederen. Kasu honetan, Aldaketa Klimatikoa lurraldea gizakien eguneroko hartuemanekin uztartzea ekar lezake modu zuzenago batean. Eta Gobernu eta Gizarte Erakundeen estrategia guztiz “deskonektatua”, errazagoa dirudi konektatzea, aldaketa klimatikoaren baliabide eskasia biztanlegoaren dentsitate eta kontsumo behar jasangarrien baitan antolatzeko gaitasuna erakusten bada. Penta Helix-aren 5 stakeholderrak, artxipielagoetan funtzionatu baino, hobe litzateke (eta hor Erakunde publikoen lidergoa eta ausardia ezinbestekoak dira) Gobernantzaren bidez konektuaraztea. Oso gauza materialistei buruz ari gara, ez soilik estetikaz edo eta makillaje instituzionalaz (pa(i)saia sentitzen dut ez da jada stakeholderrak lehenengoz biltzeko erronka estrategiko beilena egungo lurraldegintzaren erronken artean). Aipatzea, partehartze handiz adosten direla jada adostuta dauden gauzak, oso jokaera beldurtiarekin jokatzea da. Bildurra ematen al digu gizarte eta gobernantzaren arteko txertaketa beharrezko horrek? Nere susmoa baiezkoa da, hein handi batean. Kasu honetan, garbia oso.
Haatik, kasu honetan, beste hainbatetan bezala, ikusi eta ikasten dugu, beharrek eragiten dutela beste ezerk baino gehiago Gizarte Berrikuntza. Praktikatik Gizarte Eraldaketa eragileen eskutik posible denean. Horretarako, bisioa, egunerokotasuna, errespetua, praktikotasuna eta ikuspuntu oso zabala eduki behar da. Diskurtso hutsalek eta ideologiek ez dutenak bestalde egun.

Hala ere, eragileek Schonpenhauer-ren esanaren bidetik topatuko dute modua. Espero dezagun Aldaketa Klimatikoaren eskutik etorriko dela, Euskal Hiria-ren dinamismo beharrezko hori. Gobernantza kutsu eraldagarri baten erabiltzaile egin gaitzala guztiok. Berandu baino lehen, eta Schonpenhauer-ren esana, ahaztu gabe (ere).

#BeingThereIAmHere // #HanIzanikHonaNaiz

Oxford, England <> Donostia, Basque Country
15th <> 19th December 2013

Dr Igor Calzada

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