Bilbao and the SDGs in city networks

The proliferation of city networks is an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences on localization of sustainable development goals (SDGs). Through a big data analysis, ECOPER analyzes which SDGs Bilbao is related to in international city networks and to what extent these SDGs are of interest to Bilbao’s citizen entities. This type of analysis allows cities to explore multi-stakeholder alliances for an international cooperation oriented to the sustainable development goals and targets in which cities play a more relevant role.

Combined references to Bilbao and the SDGs in international networks of cities

Source: big data analysis in Twitter accounts of city networks to which Bilbao belongs

As part of a fruitful collaboration with the Cooperation Department of the Bilbao City Council, ECOPER has conducted a big data analysis in order to measure the presence of the 2030 Agenda in the content of conversations on Twitter of Bilbao entities and city networks in which the Bilbao City Council participates. The measurement was carried out with the support of algorithms programmed in R by the ECOPER team and consisted of:

  1. the development of dictionaries of key terms related to each Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and Bilbao,
  2. measuring the frequency of occurrence of these terms in two sets of Twitter accounts: one of accounts followed by the City of Bilbao, and another of city networks.

The analysis results are summarized in frequency indicators, that is terms related to an SDG over 1,000 words. This is considered as an indicator of interest in a particular SDG area and, therefore, an opportunity for sustainable development partnerships.

Bilbao and the SDGs in city network conversations on the Internet

Almost 60% of the networks to which Bilbao belongs have referred to the city on Twitter. The Walking Cities Network, with 2.4 mentions per 100 tweets, is the network that most frequently refers to the Bilbao. The networks that most often refer to the SDGs in tweets that also mention Bilbao are Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), UCCI- Red de ciudades iberoamericanas, Global Parliament of Mayors, UCLG- United cities and local governments, Eurocities, and RECI-Red de Ciudades Interculturales.

Finally, the SDGs with which Bilbao is most often linked are SDG 11 on sustainable cities with fifty references per thousand words (something to be expected due to the very nature of the networks) followed by SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG 13 on climate action, with seven and six references respectively.

The SDGs in conversations on the Internet by entities in Bilbao

A similar analysis carried out on the accounts of BIlbao entities indicated a certain coincidence with city networks’ interests. The SDGs most frequently referred to in Bilbao are SDG 5 (gender), 11 (cities) and 8 (economic growth), all with frequencies between three and four times that of the next SDG (SDG 9 on infrastructure).

Strategic reflections

This type of analysis can help cities to identify and monitor potential partners for their international cooperation policies and SDG localization processes. In particular, this exercise on Bilbao indicated the following key findings for a strategic reflection in this regard:

  • There is a clear coincidence between the interest of Bilbao entities in SDG 5 on gender equality and the projection of Bilbao in city networks.
  • City networks also relate Bilbao to climate action, although Bilbao entities do not pay as much attention to this SDG.
  • On the other hand, SDG 8 on economic growth and employment is of great interest to Bilbao’s entities and is not reflected in Bilbao’s participation in international networks.