This interview is part of our series “#ProgressiveLocalStories”, aiming at raising awareness on the many positive initiatives implemented by progressive cities and regions in Europe in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals. Cities and regions have become laboratories for innovative solutions and, with this series, we want to discover how progressive mayors, councillors and presidents of regions put in place policies to tackle the climate crisis, eradicate social inequalities and build more sustainable communities.
Mr Machado, why is Lousada a progressive city?
Lousada is a progressive city because, in a peri-urban area with no tradition in environmental action whatsoever, we are implementing a full, integrated and ground-breaking sustainability agenda that rests on the commitment of all kinds of actors.
As a mayor, what policies have you implemented with a view to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?
Our sustainability agenda starts with implementing internal changes and policies in order for the municipality to set an example for our inhabitants. For instance, our internal sustainability led us to implement a zero plastic policy in all the events we organize or endorse. We are progressively switching our fleet to more eco-friendly solutions, like hybrid or electric cars. Furthermore, we were the first municipality in Portugal to use LED technology for 100% of our public lighting, making saves consequently both in budget and in carbon emissions. The same applies for our energy bills as we are now using renewable sources of energy for heating our public buildings. We have also stopped using glyphosate and are promoting the rewilding of public green areas by enhancing habitats for wildlife. Among many other things, we are fully committed to green procurement and to the endorsement of greener companies that work with us.
With regard to our ‘external’ agenda, it is highly focused on enhancing the quality of life of all our citizens. In Lousada, all children receive free books from our Municipal Reading Plan. We enhance scientific literacy through regular publications available to all, including a science communication journal. We promote environmental awareness in schools through an integrated educational project that provides assistance, different classes, field trips, pedagogical resources and specialized trainings that are free of charge for all teachers and educators.
We involve the whole community in hands-on environmental actions like the vigilance and restoration of watercourses, reforestation programmes or wildlife and tree monitoring schemes, among other things. All initiatives are of an inclusive nature and we embrace all kinds of audiences, going from kindergarten children to the elderly and including for example ethnical minorities and people with physical or mental disabilities.
We actively work towards improving at least 14 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and indirectly end up tackling all of them, at a local level, with demonstrated results in happiness and life quality improvement for all.
How did the European Union help Lousada become a sustainable city?
There is absolutely no doubt that the European Union, through a multitude of funding schemes and capacitation programmes, has been fundamental for Lousada in order to help it become a sustainable city. We apply for many different programmes and have received fundings for example through Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens, Interreg, Creative Europe and the European Regional Development Fund. The EU policies have also inspired us to do more and better, and to challenge ourselves daily to keep up with the highest quality patterns, both in policy and action.
Pedro Machado is the Mayor of Lousada, a densely populated municipality in rural Portugal, since 2013. Under his mayorship, the city has won in 2019 the Transformative Action Award. He belongs to the Portuguese Socialist Party.
Photo credits: Lousada municipality