AMB to manage 60 million euros, 50% from European funds, for metropolitan projects
For the first time, AMB will directly manage European funds allocated to improvements in the region, achieving recognition as a leading territorial institution. The Government of Catalonia has transferred these funds from the EU to AMB due to the common objectives of the European directives and the Metropolitan Action Plan. The resources will be used to give added dimension to existing metropolitan projects, with special emphasis on new technologies, the preservation of natural areas and the environment.
This transfer of funds is very important for the metropolitan administration, because apart from being a leading territorial public institution with a consolidated budget of 1.400 billion euros in 2017, it will be managing funds from the European Union independently for the first time, giving greater importance to existing metropolitan projects, which are all aimed at regional cohesion.
This agreement became possible after the parties found that the Metropolitan Action Plan (MAP) is in many respects aligned with the guidelines established by Europe regarding priorities when investing resources in the region.
AMB will therefore carry out projects amounting to 60 million euros, 50% of which will be financed with ERDF funds, which will be carried out up to 2023. All these projects will be based on three main areas.
The proposal came from the International Relations Area, and according to its vice-president, Alfred Bosch, it ‘clearly increases the metropolitan resources for the conservation of our natural heritage, sustainability and energy efficiency'. The proposal also involves a paradigm shift since ‘it includes projects that are metropolitan in scope and not merely a distribution of resources among municipalities', which does not rule out each municipal council being able to make its requests outside the scope of the AMB programme.
Improved use and quality of ICT
Of the total funds, 5.2 million euros will be allocated to the continued development of the AMB SMART platform, which is already in use in the management of the network of metropolitan parks and beaches, and for promoting areas of economic activity. Among other benefits, this technology enables the lighting and watering in the metropolitan parks to be managed automatically and remotely to save on water and energy. It also makes the AMB mobile app collection possible, which provides the public with real time information on the metropolitan bus service, taxi service and Bicibox service, as well as on parks and beaches.
The new European funding will enhance the contents of the current SMART platform, both to incorporate more metropolitan services (for which it is planned to include mobility and public transport and waste management services) and to incorporate new features in the apps: immediate opinions from citizens, a system for online complaints and suggestions, and additional municipal information. After it has been tested, the model can be exported to the metropolitan councils, in order to consolidate a shared technology platform, to be able to comprehensively manage the quality of local public services.
Within this sphere of action, AMB also aims to promote initiatives aimed at modernising and reviving the area's economic fabric, and to guarantee digital connectivity for the entire population, finally overcoming the so-called digital divide, which is currently not only based on age, but also on economic and social standing.
A low-carbon economy
In another area of work, AMB will undertake projects amounting to 29.6 million euros aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of public buildings and infrastructure it owns and in the metropolitan municipalities (treatment plants, landfills, eco-parks, street lighting and the Barcelona ring roads, public transport depots, municipal buildings, and so on). It will also launch an ambitious programme to refurbish public and private housing, designed to improve its energy efficiency, while considering the involvement of additional private funding.
Furthermore, but within this same area, AMB will continue to promote its metropolitan policy of sustainable mobility, renewing the public transport fleet with hybrid and electric vehicles, building new cyclable roads and raising public awareness of air pollution.
Conservation and protection of green infrastructure
Finally, 25.2 million euros will be allocated to financing projects to preserve, protect and develop natural systems. The preservation of open spaces, the maintenance of peri-urban parks, beaches and river areas is essential to maintain a green and environmentally balanced metropolis.
In specific terms, AMB has planned maintenance and investments in ecological recovery projects around the Besòs and Llobregat river areas, Collserola park, the metropolitan beaches and an accelerated environmental recovery of the old Garraf landfill, among other projects (to be specified). The aim is to carry out a series of projects while maintaining the health of the metropolitan ecosystems, so that they can also be actively used by citizens in their everyday lives.
For example, these options include building walkways and paths for public use, but which also act as green corridors and as systems for insulating and protecting natural areas.
The projects already under way to improve integration of existing infrastructure into the natural environment will be particularly important, such as undergrounding power lines and landscaping road infrastructure.