II Green Savers Conference. Smart cities are sustainable cities

The cities of the future will be sustainable and will have to be smart. But until then, there is still a long way to go. This was one of the conclusions of the II Green Savers Conference, under the theme “Smart Cities – the role of cities in sustainability”, which took place this morning at the Electricity Museum, in Lisbon.

Thinking about the future is not far. Thinking about the future of cities means acting in the present. And for Pedro Ferreira, President of Future Energy Leaders Portugal, this decade will be pivotal for Portugal. For this executive, the country has a unique opportunity here, where it brings together an active population with a superior education and the ability to reflect on the challenge. “This is a great opportunity for this generation to show value and bring, through innovation, new ideas that can change cities,” he said, adding that he believes the ne of the great challenges for the cities of the future is to be attractive. . Attractive to those who live there. This means that not only the public sector, but also the private sector, “must create the conditions to be attractive, not only from a cultural point of view, but also professionally, for example”. In other words, there must be good companies that have the capacity to retain talent and that, in this way, can allow people to settle in these cities, other than the major urban centres. “We have to think the country territorially,” said the president of Future Energy Leaders Portugal. This means that it is necessary to have a national strategy, defined over the long term. Because smart cities will make it possible to fight against climate change, but will also contribute to reducing social inequalities.

Generally, when talking about smart cities (or smart cities), the first thing that comes to mind is the use of technology, or even new forms of mobility. But the cities of the future want more than that. As Alexandra Azevedo, President of Quercus, mentioned, the cities of the future must be spaces where children can live, where nature can coexist with human beings. The same warned that people must help take care of the space in a more participatory way. It is a continuous and mobilizing work and where the municipalities have a very important role here, because of their proximity to the citizens.

But for this, and in the opinion of Ana Perdigão Antunes, A3 architect at the Atelier Academia de Arquitectura, the human being (and architecture) must get closer to nature. Something that is already being done, in bioarchitecture for example. The ideal is not only to look at the hut, but also the surroundings of the project, as well as the nature that is there. “And integrate it into our project,” he verified, adding that the role of the architect is to know the community, the client, the place and the nature, which involves and will influence the project.

Talking about smart cities must necessarily evoke the theme of electric mobility. Which, according to Teresa Ponce de Leão, president of LNEG and APVE, in Portugal is neither a reality nor a marketing action. “Electric mobility is everyone’s obligation.” The proof is that it is one of the priorities defined by the European Commission, alongside energy efficiency. As part of the electrification of energy systems, one of the objectives is the electrification of electrifiable transport. Without forgetting that, already at COP26, countries have committed, from 2035, to no longer sell vehicles other than electric. Last week, the European Commission set new targets – which, in practice, accelerate the measures previously established – in order to ensure greater energy independence (or rather, to try to reduce dependence on Russia). Whether we like it or not, the transition to electric vehicles “is a path that is in the process of being made, with some obligations”. As for Portuguese consumers, the opinion of Teresa Ponce de Leão is that the price of vehicles is the only obstacle to greater massification.

The revolution must take place at the local level. This is the opinion of Rui de Oliveira Neves, partner of Morais Leitão, which he considers a key aspect, especially in terms of land management and planning. As much as national strategies are defined, they cannot obtain results without local action and dynamics. “It is at the local level that the revolution must take place in this direction, it is by transforming the behavior of citizens that it is possible, namely to achieve the objectives of decarbonization”. This means, for the lawyer, that there must be, from a regulatory point of view, an alliance between what is the national dimension of the objectives and what is the regional, local variation of these same objectives.

Cascais, an example to follow

One of the best ways to move forward in any subject is to look at good practices, observe success stories, learn the measures and transpose them to “our” reality. And Cascais is one of those success stories. Luís Almeida Capão, President of the Board of Directors of Cascais Ambiente, presented some of the measures taken by the municipality that place it at the forefront of a smart city. Since the bet to have trees in several places, not only because they are species that help regulate temperature and even provide shade – to people and vehicles that are parked. This means that vehicles stay cooler and therefore consume less electricity. It’s also being a smart city. It is about providing a set of tools and services that improve the quality of life of those who live there.

Another clear example is the management of waste, incidents, collection of monos… various situations which, when they occur, disturb and harm the citizens, but which, thanks to a good interaction with the services, it is possible to speed up the correction of these same incidents. The city thanks you and the citizens too.

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