Public Debate: Environmental concerns of the city of Barcelona

07 May 2019
Science-policy interface
Energy transition
Climate change
Air pollution

How can academic research on issues like climate change, energy transition, biodiversity and air pollution be effectively linked to municipal management? This was the focus of the public date organized by Barcelona En Comú on Tuesday 07 May 2019 and that took place at the Universitat de Barcelona.  Mario Giampietro and Raúl Velasco Fernández (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) shared their experiences in the science-policy interface, gained in the project MAGIC, with Eloi Badia (Councilor of Presidency; Water & Energy of Barcelona and Vice-president of Barcelona Metropolitan Area), Frederic Ximeno (Commissioner of Ecology, City of Barcelona), Carme Llasat (Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of Catalonia and Professor at Universitat de Barcelona), Isabelle Angelovski (Cientific Advisory Council of Barcelona and ICTA-UAB), Yolanda Melero (CREAF-UAB and University of Reading), Oriol Marquet (Institut de Salud Global, Universitat de Barcelona) and others working on or interested in the city's environmental problems.

The debate took place around the sustainability challenges of the municipality of Barcelona and the political actions developed in response to these challenges by the city council. Major concerns of the city council are the possible effects of climate change on the city of Barcelona, the exacerbating health problems related to air pollution (estimated 350 death per year), and green gentrification and socio-environmental justice issues. Other more specific questions included: How to improve the current methods of accounting for monitoring the eficacy of energy policies and the potential use of a Citizens Energy Observatory? ; How can we improve the processes and institutions supporting the dialogue between local researchers, policy-makers and citizens, i.e., better dissemination of relevant research results and better informing researchers about the practical challenges faced by the city? The possibilities to create a regular space of reflection and information exchange on sustainability challenges were discussed, and the recent creation of Barcelona Ciència was highlighted as a step forward in the exploration of such institutionalization as a way to encourage collaboration between local politicians, researchers, and citizenship of Barcelona.