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How is an ecological local authority managed?

Carlos Bernardes | ECO Mayor

Torres Vedras is on the coast, 50 km north of Lisbon, and it is in a strategic location for taking advantage of renewable energy. With 57 wind turbines in twelve different farms, this municipality is self-sufficient in energy and its policy of sustainability means that it has received a number of European environmental and sustainability certifications. Carlos Bernardes, aged 48, has been in the local authority for 20 years, and, after being the councillor in charge of the environment for ten years, he became President of the Council at the end of last year, after his predecessor, Carlos Miguel, became a member of the government as Secretary of State for Local Authorities. This unique municipality with 20,000 people in the city and the remaining 60,000 in the rural parishes is managed by a man who was born in an agricultural setting. In the city, Carlos Bernardes gets around on foot or on one of the Agostinhas, a system of urban public bicycles which has received several awards, such as the Energy Globe Award, one of the most prestigious environmental awards in the world.

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Is it possible to manage a local authority in an ecological or sustainable manner?

I believe so. By paying attention to the area’s natural resources, and to its potential, we have reference indicators for sustainability in the area of energy. Torres Vedras today, based on its energy consumption needs both by citizens and by industry, and what it produces from the renewable point of view, is balanced, through wind and solar power. On the social side, it has an excellent network with a series of partners who do important work in different areas and who contribute to sustainability

We have around 3,500 companies operating in our area, from Dona Maria who sells in the Municipal Market to a multi-national with 700 workers who work in our area. I would say that Torres Vedras is an area that can guarantee sustainability; in fact it was this that led the European Union to recognise us last year as a “Green Leaf” area.

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