Community Challenges

Ozean Lab: encouraging the emergence of sustainable and competitive opportunities in Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve


The main objective is the design and development of a creative platform (Living Lab) with activities and solutions that encourage the local economy and culture towards a sustainable specialization in Urdaibai’s Biosphere Reserve- Basque Country, listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.


To achieve a “plastic free” environment in UBR that encourages the emergence of new sustainable and circular economy opportunities for this area involving end users: citizens, local businesses, etc.

Context and framework

The Urdaibai estuary where the UBR is located is a natural area formed by the mouth of the River Oka, that occupies a surface area of 220 km² and has impressive ecological assets that have allowed it to be listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Gernika represents the most important urban centre in Urdaibai.The Biosphere Reserve law establishes a set of sustainability measures that reinforce the scientific, cultural and recreational importance of this type of territory and at the same establish very specific frameworks for its development.The UBR is a reference for environmental sustainability and represents a great added value for the territory and its citizens. However, due to its regulatory framework, it is an important challenge to incorporate this territory into the logic of competitiveness, specialization and sustainable development promoted by local administrations.The aim is to identify needs and opportunities that consider the particular regulatory context of this protected area in order to contribute to its coherent integration into local policies for sustainable development and competitiveness.

Main expected actions are:

  • Leverage and mobilize existing creative solutions (enabling technologies) to not only address the challenge of plastic pollution, but to transform it into a resource for the creation of new creative and green business models.
  • Leveraging and mobilizing new creative solutions / technologies / methods / cutting-edge services to support the creation of a creative circular economy model in the Urdaibai environment.• Leveraging and mobilizing new creative solutions / technologies / methods / cutting-edge services to support the creation of a creative circular economy model in the Urdaibai environment.
  • Reinforcement of citizen science crowdsourcing models through the collection and publication of data on possible interventions in the circular economy.

Upcoming project engaging several community stakeholders

Upcoming project engaging several community stakeholders:Since 2018, GAIA has been one of the agents proposing real challenges within the framework of the intensive training itinerary based on blue economy challenges proposed by the Ocean i3 educational innovation project which is developed in collaboration between the University of the Basque Country, the University of Bordeaux and Euskampus Fundazioa.Based on the collaboration of more than 3 years with the Ocean i3 project, the development of this challenge can relay in a first circle of stakeholders and learning community by the involvement of the Ocean i3 enlarged community (students, teachers, researchers and public and private territorial social agents) participating in Ocean i3 in order to promote transdisciplinary and collaborative learning, research and intervention projects that are integrated into the dynamics of the UBR Creative Living Lab.


The activities could be classified into 5 main axes:

  1. Skills, education and research: Creative and Sustainable skills development
  2. Development / Integration of creative solutions (Technology)
  3. Business support and financing
  4. Promotion, awareness and public participation
  5. Policy and regulation

Promoting partners

  • GAIA: ICT cluster in the Basque Country, driver of the Ozean Lab and expert in citizen engagement and Living Lab methodology
  • Rivages ProTECH: develops environmental monitoring technologies to compile data for better decision making
  • Gernika-Lumo Municipality: Gernika represents the most important urban centre in Urdaibai. The Gernika-Lumo’s council is committed to the field of new technologies as a vector for social cohesion and integration and developing opportunities for advancement for all who have something to contribute to the culture, economy or coexistence
  • Ocean i3 project: mobilizes an annual average of 45 undergraduate and postgraduate students and their faculty mentors from 16 different disciplines coming from 2 universities (University of the Basque Country and University of Bordeaux) and at least 25 public and private stakeholders. This enlarged community works in teams to contribute to challenges from cross boarder Basque Country and New Aquitaine regions’ blue economy.

Practical details

  • Hosting organization: GAIA
  • Community: Pais Vasco/ Euskadi
  • Focus Area: Health, Climate Change, Energy transition & Circular Economy
  • Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Type of activity: Challenge based education, Thesis/Graduation Project, Research projects