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Portugal

The dream of a solar village

The law slows things down. But change is coming and communities want to be at the forefront of energy transition. In the parish of São Luís, the first renewable energy community in Portugal may soon be born. The early summer sun shines down on six new solar panels on the roofs of residents in São Luís, Odemira. The slogan “Power to the people!” is being taken literally by this tranquil village in the south-west of Portugal. “We’re living in a very paternalistic market. But there is going to be a big change in the distribution of electricity in Portugal, and …

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Force to stop and rethink?

This year, a tremendous expansion of airports and air traffic was agreed in Lisbon. Transport – and more specifically aviation – is the sector that most contributes to the greenhouse effect. But we live on the threshold of a transformation. Do we want to travel by plane tomorrow? A story told between Sweden and Lisbon. Alexandre Seguro is 17 years old. On 25 July, he will sit the national maths exam, his last challenge in secondary education. Four days later, he will participate in the World Peace Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. The choice of transport was obvious to him: “I …

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European Day of Sustainable Communities

On 21 September residents of Cloughjordan ecovillage, Co. Tipperary, in Ireland, and the wider local community, will gather at the annual Apple Festival, to celebrate the harvest and those that tend the orchards, work the land and create delicious food. They will arrive bearing musical instruments, bags of fruit for juicing and home-made pies — there is stiff competition for the prize of best apple pie! Activities include a guided walk of the ecovillage’s 70 native varieties of apples, a tour of the adjoining community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm, which feeds over 100 adults and children, a workshop on seed-saving and …

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How do you break free?

Once you know your tipping point… Kathi Heusel, a holistic coach from Austria, and Bart Delember, a Belgian kite-surf-instructor, both in their mid-thirties, are living in the Western Algarve. One day, they reached their tipping point regarding the gigantic amount of plastic waste in the ocean and in their day-to-day life. Finding it unacceptable to see how much garbage, and especially how much plastic, is currently floating in the ocean – they decided they actively wanted to live their lives in a different way. Most people probably feel the same, says Kathi Heusel in a conversation with ECO123. But what …

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BEACON, a beacon in the dark?

Are journalists able to take a neutral stance? Who chooses the stories they work on, and who decides the way these are presented? Do they portray reality and describe it through their words – like someone dressing a mannequin in a shop window? What are these stories that journalists write? What influence does intuition have in their work? What is the perspective of journalists when they observe and ask, listen and touch, sense the taste and smell, and then tell their story? What pictures do they choose? Questioning yourself and your work also calls into question the meaning of what …

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Made by Choices

Vânia Ribeiro (aged 34) has a degree in Psychology and an interest in alternative medicine. For four years, she took a course in Chinese medicine and massage. During that time, she discovered naturopathy. For health reasons, she felt the need to change her diet. She called the consumption of meat and fish into question and started a blog (and her own Youtube channel), which, some years later, now has 100.000 visitors in Portugal. Vegan life is presented on it every day, with new recipes, articles about health, photos, films and documentaries. It is called “Made by Choices”… Author Vânia Ribeiro …

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An oasis comes into being on the burnt land of Monchique

The landscaping project plans for the planting of 1,000 different species of native trees and shrubs in the Barranco do Esgravatadouro valley. The first 50 young trees have been planted since 30 December: various species of oak (quercus canariensis and quercus ilex, among others), cork oak, ash (fraxinus excelsior), chestnut, walnut, beech, willow, lime, maple, birch, elm, magnolia, camellia, as well as carob, laurel and pepper-trees. The terrain has been mapped out carefully and the themes are well-defined: paths will link several islands of trees placed at different levels. The first trees have been planted along the stream that rises …

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What is a smart city?

We are in Évora, in the city’s historic centre, in the year 2013. More than 90% of the buildings are over 40 years old. Of the homes to be found here, 2,424 are primary residences (56%), 739 are secondary residences (17%), and 1,163 are unoccupied (26.8%). There is a negative trend. From its peak in 1930, when 22,446 people lived in the city’s historic centre, to the last Census in 2011, when there were only 4,719 inhabitants, the area lost 80% of its population. The process of population decline began with the first large fall in 1940. The ageing rate, …

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The municipalities are becoming increasingly aware

We are in Lisbon, Cais do Sodré, near the Tagus river, with the 25th of April Bridge in the background. It is February 2019. We are exchanging ideas with Dr Sofia Simões, an environmental engineer. She is 48 years old, married, and the mother of two children, aged nine and thirteen. She works on a national scale for the Faculty of Science and Technology at Lisbon’s Nova University. A while ago, she began to think and work on a supranational scale for various countries in the European Union. She returned from Brussels yesterday. “I have lived in Sweden; I also …

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Before it was considered rubbish, today it generates electricity

“All cities are different. But, when it comes down to it, we’re all working for the same thing. Some follow one path, some follow another. Some might happen to lead the way, while others tend to follow along behind.” Fabíola Oliveira, from the forestry office, and Maria Elisabete Mato, an adviser to the mayor, have brought from the north of Portugal the solutions and challenges that are being experienced in Viana do Castelo. You presented the other municipalities with the inspiring example of a biogas plant. What are the advantages of this process? Maria Elisabete Mato: We have an intermunicipal …

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