Cristina Pinto / Chus Heredia
Friday, 17 November 2023, 14:10
The mayor of Estepona has been talking about his sustainable vision for the town this week at a special forum organised by SUR.
José María García Urbano said at Tuesday's event in the new Mirador del Carmen viewpoint and cultural centre in Estepona that his town is one of those which "has evolved the most in Spain in the last decade".
However, he stressed change needed to continue and outlined his aims of bringing a desalination plant to Estepona to turn seawater into drinking water as well as opening a university.
The SUR forum on the future of sustainable cities, held in partnership with water and environmental firm Hidralia, was moderated by editor-in-chief Manolo Castillo and began with a panel debate with experts that discussed how to achieve sustainable living in urban areas.
In an interview after the debate with Castillo, the mayor talked about the changes Estepona has seen in recent years and how these have been achieved.
"Nothing here has come about by chance and just now we are right at the end of a plan we started twelve years ago. But, when that happens, we have many more objectives to achieve," García Urbano explained.
To achieve his aim of a desalination plant, the mayor asked for support from upper levels of local government to get it under way.
"I ask for understanding and collaboration because the desalination plant plan must happen here in Estepona. Creating water not only guarantees we can be self-sufficient, but making it costs almost nothing... the desalination plant means we can give residents very cheap water," explained García Urbano.
He said the project has already been designed and financed but needs the help of other local authorities and government to turn it into reality. He said the water plant would be solar powered and cost 12-15m euros.
The other great challenge for the immediate future in Estepona is setting up the university, which will be private but "complemented by a public system that will mean almost zero cost for local residents".
"For the 2025-26 academic year, we will have the first courses at the University of Estepona; it will start in the field of Health with Medicine, Dentistry, Gerontology and other related disciplines. I think we will make that deadline and it is going to revolutionise the town because, for residents, studying elsewhere in a public university will be more expensive than studying in a private university here," he added.
"We like to talk about our town, show it off and tell people to come and share what is happening," he ended.
Taking part in the panel beforehand were: María del Mar Plaza, general secretary for Environment at the Junta de Andalucía; Salvador Moreno Peralta, architect of the Mirador del Carmen; and Alejandro Simón Partal, Estepona writer and academic.
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