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REGILIENCE Management Board Meeting in Lisbon: Learning Hands-On Resilience Strategies from the Region

REGILIENCE held its fourth Management Board Meeting from 9 to 11 May 2023 in the beautiful city of Lisbon, which was hosted by our welcoming partner Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa. The place of the meeting wasn’t chosen by coincidence. It is no secret that in recent years Lisbon is quickly advancing in terms of sustainability and climate adaptation. In June 2018, Lisbon was distinguished with the European Green Capital 2020 award. 

Receiving the European Green Capital award signifies the tremendous efforts Lisbon has made in the past decade to transform into a greener, more people-friendly city. Notably, it is the first time a capital in Southern Europe has achieved such recognition! Lisbon has taken a firm stance on combating climate change by pledging its commitment to the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and becoming a member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Network. To further promote sustainability, the city launched the Lisbon Capital Green European Commitment 2020 – Lisbon Resilience Action Plan 2030, which challenges companies, organizations, associations, institutions, public and private entities to work together towards an ambitious agenda for the next decade, under the motto CHOOSE TO EVOLVE: 2030 measures for 2030. 

During the meeting, the REGILIENCE team had the opportunity to not only discuss project progress and plan next steps, but also gain hands-on experience with some of the measures of the Lisbon Resilience Action Plan 2030. The team visited two major climate adaptation actions that are currently ongoing in the city. 

Firstly, the team visited the construction site of the first stage of the Monsanto-Santa Apolonia tunnel, a key infrastructure in Lisbon’s Drainage General Plan (PGDL) that aims to reduce the city’s current and future flash flood risk by diverting surface waters to a system of tunnels that will drain into the Tagus River estuary. Additionally, the plan includes the development and construction of multiple new retention and infiltration zones throughout the city. The team was welcomed by Arch. Rita Gomes and given presentations on the technical aspects of the tunnels by Eng. Gonçalo Diniz Vieira and Eng. Tiago Gomes before proceeding to an in-loco guided visit of the construction site, accompanied by PGDL technicians. 

The field trip continued with a visit to the Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles urban park, a key element of Lisbon’s municipal green infrastructure network that primarily aims to reduce flood risk but also targets other climate risks. The park is part of a city-wide system of green corridors that includes 43 water retention basins, of which 22 are already active. The team was guided by Arch. Helena Barros Gomes, Dr. Inês Metelo, and Eng. Pedro Oliveira, who presented and explained the current development of the green infrastructure system in Lisbon. The visit allowed the team to see a practical example of how these retention basins are being designed and incorporated into the city’s green infrastructure system while discussing some of the key technical and socio-economic challenges behind their development. The Green Capital Award was a key trigger for the execution of this project. 

In these 3 days, the REGILIENCE team not only got to grips with some of the most important climate action measures in Lisbon but also continued the tradition of conducting project meetings in a sustainable manner. The meeting was held predominantly outside and without computers, thus contributing to reduced use of electricity. All trips were carried out by foot or public transport. Furthermore, partners discussed how  the 7 focus regions can benefit best from the experience of REGILIENCE and its sister projects as well as other initiatives project partners are engaged in. 

Special thanks to: Arch. Rita Gomes, Eng. Gonçalo Diniz Vieira, Eng. Tiago Gomes, Eng. Pedro Ferreira, Eng. Hugo Deodato from the project Team for the General Drainage Plan of Lisbon (PGDL) and to Dr. Maria João Telhado, Arch. Helena Barros Gomes, Dr. Inês Metelo, Eng. Pedro Oliveira, Arch. Rui Pires from the Municipal Directorate for the Environment, Green Structure, Climate and Energy – Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Change for sharing their expertise and valuable insights with the REGILIENCE team.