Local Climate Governance and System Innovation: Solutions for Local Mobility in the Portuguese Municipality of Torres Vedras

19:00 Tuesday 28 May




Fronika De Wit (Portugal) 1; Sandra Pedro (Portugal) 2; Margarida Frade (Portugal) 2

1 - Institute of Social Science - University of Lisbon; 2 - Local Municipality of Torres Vedras

Recent developments show a transition of climate governance towards a more bottom-up approach and more polycentricity. Polycentric climate governance stands for multiple governing authorities at different scales rather than a top-down approach with a mono-centric unit. Cities have become important actors in climate governance: they set high climate ambitions, are active in experimenting with innovative governance instruments and work together in trans-local networks to exchange knowledge and influence international climate negotiations. Examples of climate city networks are the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, Local Governments for Sustainability and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Climate actions by cities are often more innovative, as the impacts of climate change are experienced at the local level stimulating resilience building to a rapidly changing reality.

This paper analyses to what extend these subnational collaborations and local experimentations lead to wider-reaching changes and system innovation. We analyse the potential and pitfalls of local climate governance for system innovation by looking at the city of Torres Vedras in Portugal. In 2016, Torres Vedras, together with 25 other Portuguese municipalities, elaborated its Municipal Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation (EMAAC), as part of a science-policy collaboration under the national ClimAdaPT. Local project. Next to its participation in ClimAdaPT.Local, Torres Vedras also signed the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in 2010 and committed to an overall CO2 emission reduction of 29%.

As part of its Climathon – a global movement dedicated to solving city climate challenges – the municipality of Torres Vedras challenged its citizens to come up with innovative ideas to help reduce CO2 emissions through mobility. Climathon-day in Torres Vedras brought together a broad range of local stakeholders and, making use of tools from systemic design thinking, we organized five interactive working sessions on: commuting; cycling and walking; public transportation; electrical mobility; and citizenship and mobility. The outcome of the working sessions were analysed and the participants were asked to evaluate the collaborative solutions that were generated.

The working sessions resulted in innovative solutions for local mobility, new relations among territorial entities and proactive collaboration among local actors. Moreover, systemic design thinking helped in bridging the often diverse and sometimes competing views of local stakeholders on sustainable mobility. Therefore, we recommend the use of system design thinking and active participation of local stakeholders for municipal strategies for climate change adaptation in order to produce more systemic instead of isolated solutions.