UN-Habitat promotes in Spain, aligned with corresponding UN-Habitat Strategic Plan, a transformative change in cities and human settlements for a more sustainable, inclusive, resilient, and safer urban future, where no one and no place is left behind. UN-Habitat presence in this country is composed of a “UN Habitat Office in Spain” located in Madrid and the “City Resilience Global Programme (CRGP)” located in Barcelona.
Since its establishment in 2012, UN-Habitat Office in Spain has linked in-country operational activities and normative work to achieve higher impact and transformational change as well as forging innovative partnerships with government and partners. Thus, promoting a genuine territorial approach for localizing the urban dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals, and implementing the New Urban Agenda at all levels, while at the same time, supporting Spanish partners´ commitment with UN-Habitat global work to facilitate the development of strategic normative outputs.
- In-country activities for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda include, among others, supporting national and sub-national governments in the definition and implementation of their urban agendas, strategies and policies, through policy advice, capacity building, technical support and fostering knowledge.
- Spanish partners´ support to UN-Habitat’s normative work has been focused on the elaboration of global guidelines, fostering knowledge and instruments as well as applying global norms through country-level initiatives, predominantly in the Spanish speaking world.
UN-Habitat Office in Spain acts as well as liaison for institutional representation and the establishment of partnerships with the Spanish Government, and other stakeholders committed to the mission of UN-Habitat, as well as adding value to the agency's mandate in strategic areas of collaboration.
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UN-Habitat Office in Spain has supported, at the national level, the development of the Spanish Urban Agenda (2019) and the organization of the I National Urban Forum (2021), etc. At the subnational level is supporting the elaboration/implementation of regional Urban Agendas (Andalusia, Basque Country, Catalonia, Extremadura, Valencia, etc.), and at the local level the development of Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) and alignment of local and regional urban strategies to the Global Urban Monitoring Framework (UMF), etc.
It has also gathered more than 710 international and national experts, and more than 880 partners in 29 Expert Group Meetings (EGMs) and Workshops organized since 2013. Normative results of these EGMs, such as the VLR Guidelines, the Subnational Urban Policies Guide, the UMF, are highlighted. Global Reports such as 2018 “SDG 11 Synthesis Report” and “Quadrennial Report on the progress on implementation of the New Urban Agenda" were also developed with Spanish partners' support.
It has established 53 Collaboration Agreements and 18 Memorandums of Understanding since 2012.
In 2020, 80,8% of the population lived in urban areas, that is, 37.5 million people. And this number is increasing 0,24% annually.
It has a size of 505.944 km2 and urban areas occupy 20% of the territory.
Of the 8.125 Spanish municipalities, 6 cities have more than 500.000 inhabitants, while 4.955 have less than 1.000. 25% of the urban population lives in these biggest cities, while rural areas, which occupy more than 2/3 of the territory, show a significant demographic gap.
Spain’s housing stock includes 25.2 million dwellings, with 22,9% of the population under rental arrangements.
The road network has more than 128,180 km of municipal urban roads and public transport infrastructures enable the movement of between 2.8 and 3 billion passengers per year.
In recent years, both medium and large scale cities have been intensively developing Smart City strategies aimed at implementing technological and digital solutions in urban management.
Adequate, accessible and affordable housing is one of the great challenges in Spain. The most serious problems are the following, A) the gradual and constant rise in rental prices, which make it difficult to access housing in the sub-national governments where the highest percentages of rental homes are located (Canary Islands 32.8%, the Balearic Islands 31.8%, Catalonia 28.1% and Madrid 27.0%). In the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and Madrid, rental prices have already exceeded historical highs and in Catalonia, they are very close to doing so (data obtained from the Special Housing Bulletin 2018 of the Ministry of Public Works, Housing and Transport). B) the loss of houses in some public parks of the Administrations (they are counted by thousands) and their transfer to investment funds whose only purpose is lucrative. C) the existence of many homeless people who depend entirely on social services (some 23,000 people are counted, although Caritas estimates that they total close to 40,000) and D) the high number of people and families who face real difficulties in accessing affordable housing and who are at obvious risk of social exclusion. (Data from the Spanish Urban Agenda)
Spain is a country very vulnerable to climate change. The alert about the elevation of the average temperature between 5º and 7ºC in summer and between 3 and 4ºC in winter, for the last third of the 21st century, is already an evidence and the effects of climate change are felt in the form of periods of drought ; global values of precipitation below the historical average (this has been the case in the last 4 hydrological years, except for the year 2018); insufficient water storage in the reservoirs (at the end of the hydrological year 2016/17 it reached 33.9% of the total capacity, below the average values of the last 10 years, which was 50.1%); flood damage that exceeds 800 million euros per year and increase in forest area affected by fires.
Donors and partners
UN-Habitat in Spain promotes strategic and multi-stakeholder partnerships, platforms and networks to facilitate up-scaling of good practices and influencing policies and actions at national, regional and local levels. It also provides support through effective communication, awareness, and networking with stakeholders, such as other UN agencies, Academy, Professionals, Non-Governmental Organizations and the Private Sector, to promote the Sustainable Urban Development and the New Urban Agenda.