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Creating a Sustainable & Just Lisbon



The UrbanA team in Portugal were asked by Marilyn Hamilton to contribute to the "Urban Hub 20" e-book, which was published by Paul van Schaik. "Urban Hub 20 - Accelerating City Change in a VUCA World" How can we face the unprecedented complex challenges our cities face today – with Coronavirus and Climate Change? How can we create the conditions to accept, respond and transform the life of the “Human Hive” to thrive as an Integral City in a VUCA world? (VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) "Creating a Sustainable & Just Lisbon", by Duncan Crowley and Constança Belchior from UrbanA Portugal, Pages 184 – 192 A central question to UrbanA´s implementation in Lisbon is “How might an urban Community of Practice help manifest the dream of a Sustainable and Just Lisbon?” UrbanA Portugal seeks to build on work already done in the Marvila district of Lisbon and features images from the ROCK project and the urban regeneration non-profit association "Rés do Chão" (ground floor). ** Links: Full e-book: (pages 184-192) Urban Hub series, Paul van Schaik: UrbanA (Urban Arenas for Sustainable and Just Cities)
Creating Sustainable and Just Cities
UrbanA is a 3-yrs (2019-21)European
funded academic project that revolves
around four “Urban Arenas”, each one
explores specific themes with arange of
“City Makers” to better understand how
to create Sustainable and Just cities.
The project consortium is nurturing a
“Community of Practice” to better
connect communities translocally and
building a“Knowledge Commons”,
offering processes where collaboration
happens by online, offline and blended
UrbanA´s Portuguese team is seeking
to ground this process by creating face-
to-face “Local Arenas” in Lisbon. The
purpose is to identify, connect and co-
create with local communities
responding to local urban challenges,
who have clear insights on urban
justice, or who are developing local
solutions to climate breakdown.
UrbanA Blended Arenas
UrbanA is a 3-year project funded by the European
Union, and led by a consortium of seven partners
Cities play a key role in responding to the great
challenges of our time.
However increasing poverty and inequality,
exacerbated by the recent financial and housing
crises, are putting the social cohesion and resilience
of European cities to the test.
Many researchers and innovators have focused on
understanding urban social inequality and ecological
unsustainability and have identified numerous ways
of making cities more just and sustainable. This
knowledge and experience needs to be further
consolidated and effectively communicated.
UrbanA takes up this challenge
Distilling and sharing knowledge generated by
research and innovation projects and translating
it into action.
• Facilitating interaction and knowledge
Empowering UrbanA participants to apply this
knowledge locally.
Influencing policies in favour of sustainable and
just cities.
The first UrbanA Local Arena in Lisbon,
the new capital of gentrification & evictions.
November 12th 2019 was the start of the UrbanA project in Lisbon, a
city going through such rapid and profound change that it was
recently deemed “The new capital of gentrification and evictions”.
After much time reaching out to local groups and projects active in
the city, a group of about 30 participated in afull day of activity in
the cities most multicultural community, Mouraria.The event started
with a walking tour of the labyrinthine neighbourhood under the old
castle, where, like many European cities, touristification,
gentrification and short-term housing are driving up rents so quickly
that locals can no longer afford to pay and are moving out of their
bairros (neighbourhoods). Minimum wage raised 6% to 635 euros in
2019,but it is still the lowest in western Europe. Activists from
Housing and Right to the City groups Stop Despejos (Stop
evictions), Jardim Martim Moniz and Habita led a mostly local group
through the streets to the heart of this transformation, the now
mostly emptied, Rua Dos Lagares,where remaining families
recently had their evictions stalled due to mobilisations in the
streets. Then, in the Mouraria Creative Hub participants explored
how the approaches to urban justice and sustainability identified in
UrbanA translate to the Lisbon context, using Fishbowl, World Café
and other participatory methods.Their findings are being fed into
the wider UrbanA project through its collaborative processes and
tools, including a Community of Practice and Knowledge Commons.
(All links available on the UrbanA Zine:
Live Sketching at Local Arena #1
Social metrics:Where are we from
/Who are we /What’s our focus /
Age / Measure Lisbon Sustainability
and Justice levels.
Group Culture: Horizontality / Give
a voice to all /Confidentiality /Don’t
Judge / Explore differences and
contradictions / Empathy / Ecosocial
Regeneration / Intersectionality /
Respect Time / Active Listening.
World Café: Existing Solutions /
Barriers and Opportunities /Current
Problems in Lisbon / Sustainable
Vision for Lisbon.
Fish Bowl:How can an urban
Community of Practice help manifest
the dream of a Sustainable and Just
Conclusions:Many solutions exist,
but complex problems persist / Need
to better connect communities &
projects / Local participation need
deepening & expand included voices
/Identify Citizen intervention points.
How might UrbanA enable
integral capacities in Lisbon?
UrbanA will continue its local community engagement
process in Lisbon by grounding its activity in Marvila, a
rapidly transforming riverside neighbourhood on the
Eastern side of Lisbon. The objective is to identify how
best can the needs of the local communities be
supported by the wider UrbanA “Community of Practice”
and the project´s tools.It also aims to explore how to
accelerate the transformation of Marvila into an Integral
City Neigbourhood by applying perspectives and tools
from Urban Hub 20.
This port industry and working class area was forgotten
about for many decades and housed one of Lisbon’s
largest shanty towns, the Chinese Neighbourhood.This
was replaced in the late 1990’s by fragmented modern
housing blocks of high rise towers, amidst large, empty,
unused spaces. The latest urban transformation sees
rent and land prices rise rapidly, established communities
being forced to leave and even evictions happening.
Marvila is beaming with transformation potential.Many
research and social innovation groups are already active
here, working with the local government and communities
to increase citizen collaboration in planning processes
and to explore issues of equality and urban sustainability.
Chinese Neighbourhood & Quinta do Chale, 2018 (Google Earth, ROCK 2018)
Chinese Neighbourhood & Quinta do Chale, 1990’s (Soares 2011, ROCK 2018)
Marvila library, tower blocks and community gardens
Marvila´s fragmented communities & empty spaces
Honouring and building on previous work in Marvila
UrbanA aims to partner with and build on the work done by local
change-making actors and activities to explore what sustainability and
justice means in context, and how UrbanA might help local communities
develop further in an integral way.UrbanA will use the public library as
a central community-building space.
Lisbon is Europe’s “Green Capital” for 2020. A great opportunity exists
to deepen current ecological urban concepts to better incorporate social
justice. Community-led initiatives and local government can design
regenerative solutions for Marvila’s open spaces, based around the
cultural, economic, ecological and social dimensions of sustainability.
Development of a pathway of games in Marvila – O nosso Chão (Our Ground), directed at
children and youth, as a tool to promote citizenship appropriation of public spaces.
ROCK Coffee Talk #3 “Neighborhood memories”, in local library.
ROCK’s trip through Marvila in the 20th century, told by elders, translated by youth
Supporting existing projects in Marvila
Illustrations of community projects in Marvila,
orchestrated and co-created by local change
agents, such as the EU-funded ROCK project
(Cultural Heritage leading urban futures), an
urban regeneration non-profit association Rés-
do-Chão and the 4 Crescente community group.
UrbanA´s intention
for Marvila
UrbanA´s Portuguese team will ground this central inquiry in
Marvila with the intention of acting as ameta-collaboration
platform for actors of change, both local and translocal
(through the UrbanA Community of Practice). Preliminary
conversations with local actors in Marvila indicate the need for
continuity of previous collaborative and co-creative community
work.UrbanA will work with a microsmos of Marvila and
together explore how to best serve the flow development of
this neighbourhood as a nested system in the wider Lisbon.
UrbanA will realize this intention by applying selected
approaches from Urban Hub 20 to guide the unfolding of our
inquiry and our project development. These include:
1) What are the worldviews and capabilities in our team to
help the system see itself? (Integral Project Design)
2) Who are the 4 voices we will join in to help transform
Marvila, and how will our common project evolve over
time? (Integral Civil Society; Salutogenic Cities; Slocan
Integral Forestry Cooperative)
3) How can we help tell better stories about the meta-impact
the communities are having? (Wisdom Economies)
4) How to include and understand the four critical
relationships between behaviour, systems, relationships
and mindsets in our responses? (Making a Place Making
a Place We Can All Call Home)
A central question to UrbanA´s
implementation in Lisbon is
“How might an urban
Community of Practice help
manifest the dream of a
Sustainable and Just Lisbon?”
Full-text available
This paper seeks to understand how three Community-Led Initiatives (CLIs) in Lisbon engaging in local food production processes in their territories could act as possible catalysts for an urban transition pathway toward a regenerative world through ecocity transformation. Arguing that "Sustainable Cities" and "Sustainable Development" concepts can't adequately tackle climate breakdown, a degrowth urban framework response incorporates the "Eat the City" notions of local food production, consumption, water care, waste return processes, to facilitate initial steps for empowered communities to design and implement urban transformations of scale. The paper uses a participatory action research approach, working with ECOLISE, the H2020 project UrbanA and a number of "city maker" projects in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, including the three selected CLIs of Bela Flor, Ajuda, Marvila, to identify opportunities and barriers for ecocity transformation. These CLIs have complex histories and received financial support from Lisbon's BipZip programme for programmes that altered land use to create local food production zones, incorporating permaculture, agroecology and ecological design principles. In 2018 the European Green Capital Network launched a call for action to create a "Green Movement" to "enhance sustainability in all cities around the world" and declared Lisbon Europe's 2020 "Green Capital". Lisbon also recently joined the 100 Resilient Cites and C40 networks. The paper tries to understand relationships between the CLIs and wider modes of governance, to see what visions the CLIs have, if any, for their territory and the wider city, world and to understand how these visions can be implemented in wider planning processes, especially with the city's "green city" status. The paper finishes with suggestions for further lines of inquiry to undertake with the CLIs and attempts to align insights from the findings of the UrbanA process, at both scales; micro, Lisbon; macro, Europe, with green Lisbon policy commitments and implementation.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.