From the Iron of the Valley to the Iron Valley, Gipozkoa (Spain)
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Reference Date: 26-07-1998
Experience selected in the 1998 Dubai Award for Best Practice, and catalogued as BEST.
Best Practices Database.)
United Nations Region: Europe
Ecological region: River Basin
Partnerships: Foundation, Local Authority, Private Sector,
Themes = Desarrollo económico: creación de empresas (sectores
formal e informal); training. Environmental Management:
ecological sustainability; environmental remediation; resource
management. Urban and Regional Planning: community-based
planning; consultative process; cultural heritage conservation;
regional planning; regional resource planning
Bikuña Enea, Cajetín 52
Tel: +34-94 373 18 95
Fax: +34-94 373 18 86
Juan Ramón Larrañaga Mercero
Legazpi Town Hall (Local Authority)
Plaza Euskal Herria
Tel: +34-94 373 08 00
Fax: +34-94 373 06 76
Patricio Echeverría Aguirre
Corporación Patricio Echeverría (Foundation)
Tel: +34-94 373 00 00
Fax: +34-94 373 14 47
Instituto Nacional de Empleo (INEM). (Para-statal)
Instituto Nacional de Empleo
Tel: +34-94 343 17 44
Fax: +34-94 342 69 12
Marta García Nart
Comité Nacional Español
Paseo de la Castellana, 67
Tlf: +34-91 597 75 72
Fax: +34-91 597 86 04
1980-90: Industry recovery process
1990-93: Awareness and desing stage
1992 and so on: Museum of industry, natural park, rehabilitation
of the city centre
1994 and so on: Training
1997: LENBUR foundation.
S U M M A R Y
Urola Garaia is a region located in the heart of Gipuzkoa,
composed of the towns of Legazpi, Zumarraga, Urretxu and
Ezkio-Itsaso. As the financial recourses basically came from the
industry (siderurgy) the crisis in the branch, occurred toward
the end of the 80's affected dramatically the population.
Arising from this situation a group integrated by the local
administrations, the private sector and particulars brought to
life the LENBUR project focused on searching new ways for
revitalising the region.
The fairs dominating in the 90's decreased when a combined
movement of different agents was capable of overcome the trend
to depressive situation. As consequence of the project the
following results appears as evident:
- Economical diversification.
- Recuperation of degraded areas and control of uncontrolled
- Issuing an Strategic Policy for regional
developing including territorial arrangement policies.
- Restoration of city buildings and its integration in the
- Inclusion of the training as a driver for development.
From the acknowledgement acquired through this experience we can
distinguish as a very important point the need to create an
organism for boosting, managing and performing the project step
N A R R A T I V E
1. Situation Before the Initiative Began
The region of Urola Garaia with 30,000 inhabitants consists of
the towns of Legazpi, Zumarraga, Urretxu and Ezkio-Itsaso and is
located in the middle of Gipuzkoa. Its financial recourses came
basically from the industry. Legazpi was a special
case as the 90% of its resources depended closely on the
siderurgical company Patricio Echeverría, that engageed in the
80's 3,000 persons. From 1980 to 1990 staff was drastically
reduced to only 1,000 workers, impacting seriously the
population, as this company played a relevant role in both social
and educative functions, that is to say that its role was
paternalist. The dependency of the population was total.
Basically we can distinguish economic as well as social and
psychological effects derived from this dependency.
Preparing Information and Clarifying Priorities
Five top points were established for action:
A group of persons refused to accept the emerging consequences
and began the search for chances of revitalisation. From the
first moment on the local administrations took part actively and
- To support the economical diversification. An industrial
building was blought for museum. An piece of land of 10 km2has
been destined for recreation and tourism.
- To recuperate degraded areas and control uncontrolled deposits.
To awaken the population to environment responsibilities
(selective refuse collection, recycling of glass, paper,
- To issue a Strategic Policy for regional development including
- To restore city buildings and its integration in the tourist
project (Palace of Bikuña, Iron Place of Mirandaola, the Mill of
- To include the training as a driver for development (training
of forgers and environmental specialist).
After uncountable work meetings decision was made in favour of
re-using the land in order to create possible income sources.
Although constituted in 1997 the LENBUR Foundation managed the
whole process from the beginning. The activities of the LENBUR
Foundation started under the local administrations but gradually
other organisations joined the project and worked
The LENBUR Foundation integrates the local administrations, the
private sector and particulars. Among the first ones are the Town
Councils of Legazpi, Urretxu, Zumarraga and Ezkio-Itsaso. They
began their activities in 1990 supporting the project both
financially and politically, making over own installations to the
Foundation. Among the private sector within the Foundation count
the company Patricio Echeverria Corporation wich support the
project from the beginning through financial and material
The Companies GSB, FPL, Urola Sociedad Cooperativa and Zorrotz
Comercial joined between 1994 and 1996, and collaborate
financially. In 1996 entered the Foundation the famous sculptor
The continuous activity of the Foundation stimulates new people
to join the project. Different NGO's and citizen associations
support the project with social, technical and human support. the
political and financial support of the Mancomunidad Urola Garaia
begins in 1991. 1992 the association for rural development GOIMEN
joins and puts at disposal of the Foundation its staff and
material resources. The European Union collaborated also through
RESIDER II and FSE from 1994 to 1996. The Departaments of Tourism
and Culture of the Basque Government as well as the
Diputation of Gipuzkoa collaborate politically and financially
from 1994 on. The University of tha Basque Country contribute in
1996 with human and material resources to investigate the
pre-industrial and industrial heritage. The necessary needs in
training are covered since 1994 by the financial and technical
support of the Spanish National Institute for Employ (INEM).
Spanish Railway Network (RENFE) has offered the use of its
network and equipment, and KUTXA (regional bank) inverted the
money for starting up the Foundation and subscribed an agreement
for financial collaboration in the projects and tasks of the
2. Formulation of Objectives, Strategies and Mobilization of Resources
Based on the above mentioned priorities three major objectives
were set up:
- To recuperate the industrial area in order to erect a museum.
- To recuperate a free area (nearly 10 km) as a natural park to
combine the patrimonial aspects of culture, industry and nature
from the point of view of tourist development.
- To revitalise the rural areas.
These three objectives were carried out as follows:
- Creation of a Working Team for searching, designing and issuing
a Strategic Policy for the region as well as specific programs
for local coverage and for the Lebur Project (1990-1998): 134,000
- Museum of the Industry. Re-use of 6,000 m2 with building for
the use of a Museum of the Industry and services. (1992 and so
on): 1,200,000 US $.
- Natural Park. rehabilitation of the area of
Brinkola-Telleriarte-Udana 10 km2. (1994 and so on): 1,534,000
- Rehabilitation of the city centre (1992 and so on): 1,335,000
- Environmental actions. Concrete actions in relation to the
waste management, recycling, etc. (1993 and so on).
- Issue and elaboration of didactical and informative materials,
in accordance with action 3 (1995 and so on): 100,000 US $
- Investigation. composition of a group of investigators to
search up the history of iron (1996 and so on): 67,000 US $
- Formation supporting the setting up the Foundation for the
professional formation at a country extent. Workshop school for
unemployed and non specialised young people, included in the
action 3. Starting up the School of Artisan Forging with 15
participants. Forming a Design Team composed of 4 people wiyh
dedication to the Lenbur Project and other 7 people dedicated to
the environment (1994 and so on): 1,880,000 US $
- LENBUR Foundation. Start up a foundation to manage the project
as a whole unit (1997 and so on): 200,000 US $
The searching Team has terminated a first stage with the
elaboration of a Strategic Policy for the Region and the specific
programs of local coverage.
As a relevant characteristics can be pointed out the decision in
favour of controlling the territorial arrangement policies via
subsidiary rules, that should coincide with the previously
Once defined the general scope the Lenbur Project is drawn up and
the first steps begin within an integral project focused on the
Concretely the tourist sector has became an objective of the
European Community as founds have been granted through the
Initiative RESIDER II, a programm for restoring siderurgycal
areas, to recover the past in relation with the history of iron.
The problems and diffculties arisen along the process are to be
put in the need for a necessary change in the mentality of the
population in order to feel confident in the success of the
projects, then people shown rather reluctant although the
received support, as to imply themselves either financially or
personally. Actions have been performed more slowly as desired
but it has been demonstrated that great ideas require time.
Urgency does nor always mean need, our North has always been the
need. On the other hand the amount of different agents increases
the difficulty in co-ordination and taking decisions.
The depopulation process observed in the number of both
inhabitants, young and adult, has come stop, as a signal that the
given changes have augmented when a combined movement of
different agents has been capable of overcome the trend to
Although difficult to evaluate, we would say that the
self-valuation effect has been one of the best results. Finally
we all have confidence in our possibilities and in the
possibilities of the land where we live as well. The scope of the
project is to the amount extended, that the implication of public
agents as well as private agents are necessary to guarantee the
success. The cost of the investment amounts 5 million of $. This
could have not been possible without the active participation of
Real diversification of the resources as the economic aspects has
been effectively boosted. An initiative binding and integrating
project under a defined direction, knon for all agents, each one
peforming the established actions.
- Massive participation of the population in the project search
- Issuing a policy for local development on tourist basis,
recuperating the cultural, industrial and historic heritage
integrated in the environment.
- Acceotance of the local authorities of the quality criteria to
be applied to the territorial arrangement.
- Acceptance of a co-responsibility in the strategic challenge
by all the stages of the population (public and private).
- Start up the LENBUR Foundation wich manages the project.
- In the field of exchange the experiences given through the
several projects performed, we can signify the foundation as the
optimal legal form to act as a stimulator, entertainer and
- Need of stepped implication and participation of the different
social agents according to the respective sensibilities.
- In the actions contemplated in the project are integrated the
principles of sustainability, that is to say, that for the
consecution of a local objetive the aspects of environment,
economic and social development are taken into account.
The whole process for designing and carrying out the Lenbur
Project is based on the numerous participation of both public and
private agents. The guidelines coming from the guidelines of the
Local Agenda 21, suppose a methodological guide for the local
authorities, in the planning and performance of the autonumous
programs, and is taking in account when designing and performing
initiatives. The objective is to reinforce the local democracy
and the co-operation between local authorities.
The working procedure has helped to the problems that must be
first treated at local instances, that is to say at the closest
instance to the problem.
The adoption of the foundation as a legal form to engage both
private and public organisations as well as their participation
at the different stages of the project can be an example to be
followed in other countries.
5. The experience in numbers
1994-1998 Total Operating Budget: 750 millones pts (US$ 5
million. Calculated 1 $= 150 pts)
- Legazpi Town Council: 20.8%
- Patricio Echeverría Corporation: 10.4%
- National Employment Institute: 12.5%
- European Union: 31.3%
- Others: 25%
IBK (1994) Una propuesta de revitalización de la economía (Number
I, II, III and IV)
Lembur Foundation (1994) Legazpi naturaleza y artesanía del hierro
Lembur Foundation (1995) El camino del hierro (Number: 2)
Este documento se ha editado a partir de una versión inglesa.Revisado por Ricardo García.