By Armando Alves
Portugal’s Cities Footprint project, now in its second year, launched the first city Footprint Calculator in Guimarães today. Residents can use it to assess their household’s use of natural resources and compare it with the city average. It is the first calculator available in Portuguese. It is calibrated with the specific data collected from the municipality of Guimarães during the first year of the project.
As he opened the Calculator launch event today, Dr. Seara de Sá, local councilor for urbanism (picture at left), applauded the development of Guimarães Municipal Footprint Calculator, a new and stronger communication tool that can support the municipality’s efforts to reduce its Ecological Footprint through helping citizens think globally while acting locally.
“Guimarães shows that it is moving in the right direction and this is another important step,” he said. “Instead of doing things in a generic and abstract way, we provide people with a practical tool to assess their Ecological Footprint”.
Project coordinator Paulo Magalhães of the Portuguese NGO ZERO, the local partner of Global Footprint Network, explained that the Calculator is a simple and intuitive tool that will help citizens understand the impact of their lifestyles on natural resources.
Dr. Sara Moreno Pires from the University of Aveiro, lead researcher for Portugal’s Cities Footprint project, presented the Calculator to a room full of engaged citizens. Global Footprint Network’s Footprint Calculator, which has been available since 2007 and is now provided in six languages, has had a major impact raising global awareness of the implications of consumption choices, she pointed out. With more than 2 million users every year, it has become a widely recognized environmental education tool. In this context, Guimarães Footprint Calculator, in Portuguese and with local data, brings an innovative tool with a high potential to engage local residents and politicians in understanding the actions needed to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day and live in balance with the biological resources that are available.
The Ecological Footprint of Guimarães is 3.66 gha per person. Guimarães Overshoot Day is June 13th (date when Earth Overshoot Day would land this year if humanity lived like Guimarães’ resiudents.)
“Citizens for the reduction of the Ecological Footprint: Ambassadors of Guimarães”, a 3-hour Footprint workshop ran by Armando Alves from the research team of the University of Aveiro, followed the public presentation.
Twenty-six participants from local NGOs, schools, public agencies, other municipalities, and youth representatives, took part in several activities designed to help them understand the role of citizens in reducing the city’s Ecological Footprint and teach them strategies to disseminate Guimarães Municipal Footprint Calculator. It followed the following sequences:
- understand the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity concepts and Portugal’s Cities Footprint project
- use the Footprint Calculator as an educational and environmental awareness tool and understand its contribution to enhance awareness of the environmental consequences of consumption behaviors
- identify different contexts and target audiences for the use of the Calculator
- discuss policies and local actions critical to reducing the city’s Ecological Footprint
- implement the network of Guimarães ambassadors to #MoveTheDate.
The session was highly participative, with the trainees remaining very engaged throughout the workshop.
May 13, 2019: “The Ecological Footprint of Lagoa per capita is the lowest of the six municipalities that have embarked on Portugal’s City Footprinting project,” said Armando Alves, a member of the project research team at the University of Aveiro, at the launch of Lagoa’s Municipal Footprint Calculator. However “it is necessary to make all possible efforts to safeguard the natural resources that support the biocapacity of the municipality,” he added.
The event drew more than 20 people to City Hall, including several members of the local government, as well as primary and secondary school teachers. Environment Councilor Anabela Simões highlighted the importance of the Footprinting project for the local community. Project coordinator Paulo Magalhães of the Portuguese NGO ZERO, the local partner of Global Footprint Network, emphasized “the important role of Ecological Footprint Ambassadors and the involvement of civil society in the dissemination of the Footprint Calculator.”
All participants took part in the training session “Citizens for the Reduction of the Ecological Footprint: Ambassadors of Lagoa.”
May 15th, 2019: The team of Portugal’s City Footprinting project travelled to Castelo Branco Innovative Business Centre where they were received by Castelo Branco Mayor, Dr. Luís Correia.
“The Footprint Calculator is a tool that allows each person to calculate their Ecological Footprint, based on the average data of the municipality, and to understand what influences it. This is a way of raising awareness and alerting people about their Ecological Footprint and the impacts of the consumption of the planet’s resources in their daily lives”, Dr. Correia explained to the audience.
The training workshop “Citizens for the Reduction of the Ecological Footprint: Ambassadors of Castelo Branco” was held with 12 participants, including several elected officials of local districts. Through the interactive session and lively discussion that took place on how to implement policies to #MoveTheDate, several proposals emerged to be implemented in the municipality. Those include promoting reforestation with native species and improving rainwater harvesting with ponds and watershed conservation.
Afterwards, the team opted for dinner at Nuno’s, a vegetarian restaurant in Castelo Branco, and was delighted to discover their upgraded space and the new delicious food options!
May 16th, 2019: Food is the main driver of Bragança’s Ecological Footprint, emphasized Dr. Sara Moreno Pires from the University of Aveiro at the launch of Bragança’s Municipal Footprint Calculator. “The calculator helps us assess the natural resources that are necessary for the consumption of food, transport or housing, and how small changes in our diets or mobility patterns can contribute to a significant reduction in the Ecological Footprint of the municipality.”
“Our goal is indeed to make a positive contribution for our territory and the planet,” Mayor Hernâni Dias said to the 40 people in attendance. “For this reason we are making this Ecological Footprint Calculator available so that people can voluntarily make their calculations, measure the impact of consuming more or less meat, of walking more or less time, or using the means of transport provided by the municipality to get to work.”
The training event “Ambassadors of Bragança” was run for about 30 participants from various educational institutions, IPSS’s, security forces, and NGOs. The Mayor was involved in the whole 3 hours of the session. Discussions were very lively, contributing to new ideas on ways forward on local policies as well as on needed personal behavioral changes.
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