ICLEI European Secretariat

ICLEI European Secretariat


Member in the Spotlight


Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and its most populous city. It is the centre of a region with 3 million inhabitants, and generates 40 percent of Portugal’s GDP. The region of Lisbon houses a large number of companies and technological research centres, and is a highly popular destination among tourists.

The municipality is pursuing a strategy of urban regeneration by promoting the rehabilitation of vacant buildings and the qualitative improvement of public spaces, in particular enhancing green spaces and their connectivity. By doing so the municipality aims to create more jobs.

Lisbon is determined to develop environmental sustainability policies in all fields: changing the paradigm of mobility, adopting a new ecological structure for the City (Green Plan), improving waste management, and promoting energy efficiency. The Portuguese capital already has an extensive network of cycle lanes - around 70km across the city.

Sustainability Focus: Green infrastructure connecting the city 

In Lisbon, a green infrastructure plan is being implemented as a tool to face local urban climate challenges. It is part of a coordinated effort to use nature-based solutions (NBS) to tackle a wide range of climate change impacts. In a southern European City, where heat waves, flash floods and water scarcity are among the most prominent hazards, developing cost-effective green infrastructure became an urgent concern.

Green infrastructure is seen as a tool to solve the most basic urban quality of life requirements, such as access to leisure and recreation areas, space for social integration, health standards, active mobility, and even local food production. 

Since 2008 more than 135ha of new green areas were implemented and more than 75ha will be opened by 2017. The target is to reach a 20 percent increase by 2022. 

To achieve this, it was crucial to introduce integrated environmental landscape design that had a lower cost and maintenance rate than traditional solutions. The integrated landscape design will have a positive effect on the overall city climate goals, in contrast to traditional solutions which could impede progress.

The implementation of green corridors, based on NBS principles contained in the recently approved Biodiversity Local Action Plan, is part of a comprehensive approach. Several sectorial programmes play a role in this, including the successful Urban Allotment Garden agenda, a bicycle and pedestrian network, and an adapted water design programme. 

Lisbon's example is particularly useful for other cities in similar conditions facing such climate challenges, notably in Southern Europe. 

Fast facts

  • Lisbon reduced 50% of its CO2 emissions between 2002 and 2014
  • Lisbon reduced 23% of its energy consumption between 2002 and 2014
  • Water consumption was reduced by 17% between 2007 and 2013
  • Water leaks reductions were the 4th largest in the world
  • The Biodiversity Local Action Plan was approved in March 2016 with 23 indicators to monitor
  • Lisbon's 1000ha forest park is the first in Europe with FSC certification
  • One third of the Municipal fleet is electric and the city has 500 charging points
  • The Energy & Environmental Agency of Lisbon developed the first potential solar chart


“Lisbon is now strongly engaged with 'green', after some decades where the development has been, unfortunately, different from sustainability. We are now working hard and fast to create an ambitious green city, based on demanding targets in several issues, starting in creating a very consistent green infrastructure in the entire city. This structure is vital for supporting several sectorial achievements, such as those related with climate adaptation, gathering together the urban heat island effect reduction, the water cycle efficiency and the increasing of urban biodiversity. 

But at the same time, mitigation strategy is an important commitment. Lisbon is running every day to be even more a city for people who live and work in the city, giving better conditions for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. Remarkable energy and water savings as well as the CO2 reductions in the last years are giving strength to proceed with this project to be a green capital city.”

Mr. D. José Sá Fernandes,
City Councillor of Lisbon

ICLEI and Lisbon: The City of Lisbon was amongst the Founder Members of ICLEI. 

WebsitesLisbon MunicipalityRegional Coordination and Development Committee for Lisbon and the Tagus Valley (CCDR-LVT)Institute for Nature Conservation and Forestry (ICNF)Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA)Lisbon Participatory PlatformLisbon Energy and Environmental Agency “Lisboa-e-Nova”