Autor: María Gracia Moreno Vegas


According to the meeting organized by APD and Foro Logística, the current model of urban logistics in Spain is not sustainable. Furthermore, according to the European Union, the construction sector is responsible for one third of greenhouse gas emissions in the common economic area. To illustrate the environmental significance of this data, it should be noted that in 2021 these harmful gases reached emissions of 867 million tons in the European Union, of which approximately 282 million tons were emitted in Spain alone, according to analyses carried out by the Observatory for Energy Transition and Climate Action of the BC3 (Basque Centre for Climate Change) in the same year.

Virgine Wallnut, director of real estate analysis and sustainable investment at La Française Real Estate Managers, warned that the reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions can only be achieved if both investors, builders and tenants work together towards the same end, and goes on to point out that: “the offer price and business plan must take into account the capital expenditure necessary to improve the sustainable characteristics of the assets, so our offer prices naturally reflect a green premium or a brown discount”.

However, there are several legal and economic propositions that aim to radically change this negative acceptance of the construction sector and urban development, to favor the search for a balance between sustainability and social and environmental competitiveness in urban planning.


Currently, the most relevant initiatives in the approach of sustainable urban models in the space of the union are:

The Handbook on Sustainable Urban Development Strategies: aims to provide methodological support in order to increase knowledge on the implementation of integrated and locally based urban strategies, the framework of the European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on the urban dimension of EU policies [2014/2213(INI)]. It proposes, among others, strategies based on::

        • Small-scale projects with strategic objectives.
        • Urban regeneration, usually encompassing larger urban areas.
        • Strategic frameworks that function as overarching organizational plans for infra-urban (neighborhood or district) interventions
        • Organizing strategies as collaborative platforms that develop agendas in response to existing challenges.

Likewise, this manual intends to include strategies that serve as a bridge between local, national, European and international urban projects, such as the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New International Urban Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Urban Agenda for the EU and the Leipzig Charter 2020.Carta de Leipzig de 2020.

-The SAT4SUD tool (Self Assessment Tool for Sustainable Urban Development) developed by the JRC of the European Commission: it aims to assist Local and Regional Authorities responsible for the implementation of the European Union’s regional Cohesion Policy 2021-2027, in its application to the development of sustainable urban systems. This tool was conceived to critically reflect on the strategy, recognize strengths and identify opportunities for improvement. In addition, the tool can support and provide valuable information for other activities, such as discussion and working sessions between local authorities and relevant stakeholders, peer reviews, benchmarking, dissemination activities, as well as the involvement of external experts.


On the other hand, although the strategies and initiatives developed by the EU have direct or indirect effect on sustainability policy and urban development as much as on the legal system in Spain, at the national level there is the Spanish Urban Agenda, developed by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, whose action plan is structured as follows:  


    • Guide to accessibility of urbanized public spaces: which details the signage, graphic support to public urban development areas for their accessible transformation, and other technical explanations that articulate the Accessibility Order TMA/851/2021, of July 23.

    • State Housing Law: which, after closing its citizen participation process and approving the preliminary draft bill in February 2022, has undergone various amendments and a lengthy and, at times, controversial approval process. However, according to the Secretary General of the Urban Agenda and Housing, David de Lucas, the final version of this law, which aims to regulate the real estate market for the first time in the history of Spain, will soon be approved, addressing the problem of housing affordability that continued to point to an effort ratio of 35% with respect to the average purchasing level of Spaniards.

    • Architecture Quality Law: which was passed on June 14, 2022 and came into force two days later. It establishes the legal framework for the defense of the general interest of the discipline and the sustainability of actions in public procurement procedures, and includes the creation of two new bodies to guide the actions of the authorities in achieving their objectives: the Architecture House and the Architecture Quality Council. The former, among other purposes, seeks to bring the values of architecture closer to society; while the latter will be constituted as a platform for the exchange of knowledge and participation, as well as for consultation and advice on matters related to the contents of this Law.



    • Safe, Sustainable and Connected Mobility Strategy 2030: roadmap that will guide the actions of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (MITMA) in terms of transport and mobility over the next ten years. It is developed through 9 strategic axes, consisting of more than 40 lines of action with more than 150 concrete measures. It is based on cooperation, integration and inter-administrative coordination.

    • National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change 2021-2030: it is configured as a basic planning instrument to promote coordinated and coherent action, from a cross-cutting perspective (from different fields), multilateral (by different actors) and multilevel (from different territorial scales), in the face of the risks and threats posed by climate change in the different spheres of society. Without prejudice to the competencies that correspond to the various Public Administrations, the PNACC defines objectives, criteria, areas of application and actions to build resilience, anticipate and minimize damage, and define guidelines for sectors and society.

    • National Strategy for Green Infrastructure and Connectivity and Ecological Restoration: this is the strategic planning document that regulates the implementation and development of Green Infrastructure in Spain, establishing a harmonized administrative and technical framework for the entire Spanish territory, including maritime waters under national sovereignty or jurisdiction. Conceived as an ecologically coherent and strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas and other environmental elements, designed and managed for the conservation of ecosystems and the maintenance of the services they provide us.

    • National Health and Environment Plan: devised by the Ministry of Health to combat diseases and health affectations derived from exposure to pollution, it articulates one of its focus areas around urban healthiness and reduction of pollution to which one may be exposed through interaction with urbanized spaces.


    • Aid for the financing of AUE Pilot Projects: articulated in order TMA/957/2021, of September 7, which approved the regulatory bases for the granting of aid for the development of pilot projects for Local Action Plans of the Spanish Urban Agenda and the call for applications for subsidies through the competitive concurrence procedure, with a budget of 20 million euros..

    • IDAE grants: these come from ERDF funds, the National Energy Efficiency Fund, the General State Budget and the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving’s own financing, and are designed to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy actions and projects.
    • PIMA Plans: these are a tool for the implementation of measures to combat climate change at the national level. The different PIMAs proposed additionally entail other environmental benefits together with a positive effect on economic development and the promotion of employment.

If you want to know how to become a beneficiary of any of these initiatives for sustainable urban development, you can contact us and see the updates on our blog.