08840 Viladecans, Spain

Episode#46 Viladecans: "One Of The Most Sustainable Cities In Spain"

Guests: Jordi Mazón, the Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Viladecans, and Alicia Valle, the General Manager of Viladecans

Date of recording: 21 September 2023


Find transcript here


Summaries of Key Takeaways:  

  • Sustainability Leadership: Deputy Mayor Jordi Mazón and General Manager Alicia Valle discuss Viladecans' commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2030, emphasizing innovative and sustainable urban practices. 
  • Innovative Governance: The municipality's approach to governance combines scientific rigor with political strategies, aiming for coherent and effective urban development. 
  • Impulso Network Involvement: Viladecans plays a key role in the Impulso network, fostering collaboration among Spanish cities for innovation and science. 
  • Participatory Processes: The city prioritizes citizen involvement in decision-making, aiming to co-create urban solutions that enhance quality of life. 
  • Innovation Culture: The Mia innovation model demonstrates Viladecans' commitment to transforming internal operations and encouraging a culture of innovation among city workers. 
  • Gender Diversity: Highlighting a significant presence of women in leadership roles, emphasizing inclusivity and diverse perspectives in city management. 


“To you, what is a Smart City?”

Jordi Mazón: “It's a good question and I think many times about this question. For me, smart city is smart city, as the word said. And the question, what is not a smart city? For instance, a city with many trees, with shallow, with a healthy city by using trees, parks, gardens, dense gardens. For me, this is a smart city. Also, a city where the mobility is doing walking or cycling and not by car in all spaces or transits is a smart city. And a smart city is the city that citizens won. And I think. We need to disseminate how to say to do as smart citizens. So this is a smart city for me then also. Okay. Sensing many items to control and to increase the efficiency of the management in the city, this is smart city also. But the base of the smart city for me is to have a green city with many trees, gardens, etc. To change the mobility in a common sense. So if you need to move 20 minutes, walking is not a large distance. So you can walk, you can cycling. And for me, this is a smart city.“  

Alicia Valle: “Well, I think to me, a smart city is a smart when it's designed to people and when the city is an environment that improves the quality of life of citizens. That's smart. Other things for me is technology is other things. That's the smart city, which is what we are working for, focusing on the citizens.” 



  • Innovation in governance is essential for addressing the complex challenges cities face today​​​​​​​

"So to face all the challenges that Jordi has already explained to you and others that we have in education and just to be an inclusive city, we had to change things inside the city council. And we like to talk about a slow revolution. Because it is a revolution that we have to face inside our culture. And to do that, we have build this model of innovation, MIA, together with our workers. So they're a very active part of the conservation of the model. And what we did was to think about the four challenges in the city: education, environment, energy, and digital transition. And we built four groups to decide how the strategy of the city was going to be and how the organization had to change to face those challenges. So we put all these brains together to work and the conclusion was that we had to face very deep transformations of the process." - Alicia Valle

  • The participation of citizens in decision-making processes is key to achieving sustainability goals

"The basic goal is the participation of people, of citizens that power cities in the change of the energy transition. So the Vilawatt project was a European project for a change in the model of the city. So with the idea that we are going to become a carbon neutral city, we need to reduce emissions. So it is a change in mobility, change in the energy consumption and the management of the energy. And then if we want to offset the emissions, we need to change the mind and to change the management of the trees, parks, garden and the surrounding. [...] For us, one of the main challeges is the participation of the citizens, because this is not only an issue for the government, we are now working in four different sectors: enterprises, citizens, administration and academia. And so this method of work, the government defined a goal, but all these sectors are working together to face this challenge." - Jordi Mazón

  •  Technology should always be used with a focus on improving the quality of life for citizens​​​​​​​

"I think we have to focus on people and not in technology. As Jordi said, technology is a tool and to achieve more quality of life for our citizens, that is in the middle of our policies. And for sure we have to not leave anyone out in this journey.” - Alicia Valle

"We have a currency, a local currency. And so citizens can get these coins, saving energy and contracting green energy. [...] So technology is a powerful tool, but always thinking with citizens. This is a key point. And citizens are motivated for the changes and very slowly, in a very slow path, we are transforming the minds or the way we use technology in the city with the citizens perspective.” - Jordi Mazón

  • Fostering diversity in leadership can lead to more inclusive policies​​​​​​​

“It’s not a political decision, [the Mayor] just decided to have the best people for the job and 80% happened to be women. Which is great, and it’s really a shame that in other organisations, as you said, it’s exactly the inverse, 20% or 10% of women in leadership positions. [...] So we are absolutely an exception and that's a bad thing. But we're really happy in Viladecans about that and we love to explain it. I think there's one point that maybe is linked to the mindset of women, and it’s inclusivity. We like to do our projects in an inclusive way or to introduce inclusivity in our projects as a main issue. And that absolutely represents a change in the policies that we are implementing in Viladecans.” - Alicia Valle