Valencia has implemented a new Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2030 which has seen it become the first city worldwide to verify and certify its carbon footprint from tourist activity.

The Visit Valencia Foundation, the organisation responsible for the city’s tourism promotion on an international level, has aligned itself with the international strategies of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, in order to address the challenges of the climate emergency as well as the need to recover sustainably after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under this new Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2030, Visit Valencia carried out a study in collaboration with Global Omnium that measured the sources of carbon emissions produced by tourism activity in ten different areas, including public and private infrastructure; water management; solid waste; transport to and within the city; tourists, day visitors and cruise passengers; and accommodation.

The research found that all tourism activity produced 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019, of which 81% related to tourists’ transport to the city but only 0.92% to the use of transport within the city. Another interesting finding was that just 0.01% of the tourism footprint comes from water consumption (Valencia is the city with the highest water efficiency in Europe) and that emissions from all tourist activity are equivalent to one third of the carbon footprint generated by residents’ food consumption. The report findings have been certified by the Spanish Association for Standardisation and Certification (AENOR).

Valencia City of Arts and Sciences
Valencia City of Arts and Sciences

These findings are being used to inform strategies and actions to contribute to the Visit Valencia Foundation’s commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral destination by 2025 and ultimately making Valencia the world’s leading tourist destination with zero environmental impact.

Visit Valencia‘s strategy is examining the potential for energy generation using renewable sources, the possibility of having a fully electric transport system given its flat orography and maximising natural spaces such as the Turia Garden or La Albufera in absorbing CO2.

The city already boasts two million square metre of gardens, notably the Turia Gardens and the Viveros, which act as the green lungs of the city absorbing carbon emissions; not to mention the 20 kilometres of European Blue Flag status beaches. Travellers are also able to explore the city in an environmentally friendly manner by making use of close to 150 kilometres of cycle paths and 40 ciclocalles (cycle-priority streets). The futuristic City of Arts and Sciences provides an eye-opening insight into what is capable at the cutting-edge of new technology and innovation when it comes to sustainable development.

València has also been named the World Design Capital for 2022 by the World Design Organisation (WDO) for its longstanding design legacy, which has made it a leading example of a city’s effective and strategic use of design.

World Design Capital is a biennial designation celebrating cities that use design to improve economic, social and cultural life. The designation is also a unique opportunity to improve sustainable design approaches at regional and local levels.