Bilbao, Spain
City population: 787367
Duration: 2016 – ongoing
Implementation status: Ongoing
Scale: Micro-scale: District/neighbourhood level
Project area: 130000 m2
Type of area: Industrial, Previous derelict area
Last updated: October 2021

Zorrotzaurre is an artificial peninsula located within the Deusto district of Bilbao, Spain. It was formed during the 1950s and the 1960s, when a canal was built to facilitate navigation in the estuary of Bilbao. The Zorrotzaurre project is the latest major urban renewal project to commence in Bilbao. It is an integral and sustainable plan that recuperates a currently derelict site to convert it into a new quarter, and which also includes a flood protection system with water tanks to retain water and a flood protection barrier (Ref 1)

A view of Zorrotzaurre Before Project Execution (2005)
Aero Link, retrieved 08/15/2018 from Pablo Otaola (Manager of Comision Gestora de Zorrotzaurre)


Nature-based solution

  • Grey infrastructure featuring greens
  • Riverbank greens
  • Parks and urban forests
  • Large urban parks or forests
  • Blue infrastructure
  • Rivers/streams/canals/estuaries

Key challenges

  • Climate action for adaptation, resilience and mitigation (SDG 13)
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Water management (SDG 6)
  • Flood protection
  • Stormwater and rainfall management and storage
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Regeneration, land-use and urban development
  • Regulation of built environment
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Creation of opportunities for relaxation and recreation
  • Economic development and employment (SDG 8)
  • Economic development: industry
  • Economic development: service sectors
  • Real estate development


Creation of new green areas, Transformation of previously derelict areas, Management of rivers and other blue areas

Project objectives

This intervention aims to transform Zorrotzaurre from an industrial site to a residential area, in order to address the high demand for new housing units due to the city’s thriving economy and expanding service sector. The urban development will contain a mix of residential, public, and economic spaces; and will be designed to be resilient to flooding and other extreme precipitation events. (Ref 1)

Implementation activities

The redevelopment of Zorrotzaurre is a slow and complex project which was also affected by the economic crisis that unfolded since the publication of the revised plan in 2007. Therefore, instead of carrying out the entire project at once, it was decided to split the plan for the peninsula/island into two areas and these two spatial plans then have been further divided into phased development. The plan also involves the demolishment of several buildings and the relocation of 30 companies to other locations outside of Zorrotzaurre. For this, a special plan and a sub-project have been created, the so-called ‘Re-Allotment project’, which also consisted of gathering funds within the ’Comisión Gestora de Zorrotzaurre’ to compensate the parties involved. The compensation and ample preparation time for the relocation meant that very few problems have been encountered in the end with the parties concerned. (Ref 1,2)

Climate-focused activities

Climate change adaptation:

  • Implement sustainable urban drainage infrastructure (e.g. to make space for water)

Main beneficiaries

  • Local government/Municipality
  • Citizens or community groups


Management set-up

  • Co-governance with government and non-government actors

Type of initiating organisation

  • Private sector/corporate actor/company

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning
  • Dissemination of information and education
  • Consultation (e.g. workshop, surveys)

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

The main stakeholders of the redevelopment project, the landowners of Zorrotzaurre, created the public-private partnership, the ’Comisión Gestora de Zorrotzaurre’ (the Management Commission of Zorrotzaurre) as a necessary element to advance the project. The private sector initiated the partnership, and, due to the importance of the project and the amount of land owned by public authorities (Port, City and Province), the public sector joined the ‘Comisión Gestora’. The ‘Comisión Gestora’ is a union of owners with no special legal status. The ‘Junta de Concertación’, the organization that was created to develop the first phase of the project, is an organisation defined in the Basque law for urbanism. Both are not-for-profit, since the final objective is to balance the costs with investments made by the owners. (Ref 1) The current members of the ’Comisión Gestora de Zorrotzaurre’ own 65% of the land in Zorrotzaurre; these are: The Regional Basque Government (through the Department of Employment and Social Affairs and the publicly-owned company Visesa), Bilbao City Council, the Port Authority of Bilbao, and private entities ‘Sociedad Promotora Inmobiliaria Margen Derecha S.A.’ and ‘Vicinay Cadenas S.A.’. The ’Comisión Gestora de Zorrotzaurre’ supervises the redevelopment plan of Zorrotzaurre (the ‘Master Plan Zorrotzaurre’) and the members pay for all the expenses of the project and contribute financially relative to the share of land they own (51% public, 49% private). (Ref 1) The national and regional governments are involved in the sense that the adaptation objectives of the ‘Master Plan Zorrotzaurre’ are backed by the national and regional adaptation strategies. The Ministry for the Environment of the Government of Spain issued a ‘Spanish Strategy for Climate Change and Clean Energy’ 2007 laying out its plans until 2020. The Basque Country has followed and in 2015 adopted the ‘Basque Climate Change Strategy 2050’. (Ref 1) Architect Zaha Hadid designed the Master Plan for the project (Ref 2,3) The residents of Zorrotzaurre are excluded from membership as they are not supposed to pay for any costs of the project. However, they, together with the neighborhood association, have been involved in the design and development of the plans for which various interactions with the project managers have taken place. (Ref 1)

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? Yes ( Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2002 on the energy performance of buildings (Ref 4) )
... a national policy or strategy? Yes (The adaptation objectives of the ‘Master Plan Zorrotzaurre’ are backed by the national and regional adaptation strategies. The Ministry for the Environment of the Government of Spain issued a ‘Spanish Strategy for Climate Change and Clean Energy’ 2007 laying out its plans until 2020. (Ref 1))
... a local policy or strategy? Yes (This NBS is part of an urbanization project of the Execution Unit 1 for the Integrated Action Plan 1 of Zorrotzaurre. (Ref 4) )


Total cost

More than €4,000,000

Source(s) of funding

  • Public regional budget
  • Public local authority budget
  • Other

Type of funding

  • Earmarked public budget
  • Direct funding or subsidy

Non-financial contribution


Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Climate, energy and emissions
  • Strengthened capacity to address climate hazards/natural disasters
  • Water management and blue areas
  • Increased protection against flooding
  • Improved stormwater management
  • Green space and habitat
  • Increased green space area

Economic impacts

  • Reduce financial cost for urban management
  • Attraction of business and investment

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Social justice and cohesion
  • Improved access to urban green space
  • Increased involvement of locals in the management of green spaces
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Gain in activities for recreation and exercise

Type of reported impacts

Expected impacts, Achieved impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system


Presence of indicators used in reporting

No evidence in public records

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports


Availability of a web-based monitoring tool



Infograph of the Neighborhood After the Project
Zorrozua, retrieved 08/15/2018 from Pablo Otaola (Manager of Comision Gestora de Zorrotzaurre)
Source: Ref. 2
Source: Ref. 2