The challenge the Portuguese city of Leiria has accepted for the next three years is to study the consumption of resources and products and the way in which the resulting urban waste is eliminated. The municipality will be the only Portuguese city to join Urban_WINS’ pilot project, funded by Horizonte 2020, the European program for research and innovation, and which aims to develop and test innovative solutions in the areas of waste prevention and management through a participatory approach.
The project, launched in June and which includes eight pilot measures, will analyse the current strategies of 24 European municipalities and will establish concrete goals for the efficient use of resources. According to the Leiria municipal government, Urban_WINS “will follow an approach to the urban metabolism wherein the cities are considered organisms that use natural resources”, creating a “flow of live materials and energy”.
The project is supported by the participation of the citizens, governments, organizations, suppliers, research institutions and educational centres. The participatory approach is, in fact, one of Urban_WINS’ assets. According to a source at the municipal government, Leiria “encourages a culture of involving civil society and economic agents in the support of the options”, through “listening processes such as surveys and workshops”.
By participating in the project, Leiria seeks to benefit from “preventing waste production, namely saving natural resources in the design of goods and landfills”. It also hopes that the conditions created by the program can create economic gains “related to cost reductions due to the encouraged waste treatments”. For this city council, applying to Urban Wins was “timely’, since the local government already encourages “good environmental practices, prioritizing the principles established in the Hierarchy of Preferences of the Legal Framework for Waste Management”.
According to the local government, and in order to reach the established recycling goals in the national territory for 2020 (50%), “it is in the interest of the municipality to embrace as many initiatives as possible that help achieve this goal”.
The priorities of the Urban_WINS project are to improve the quality of the urban area and the well-being of the citizens by modifying the standards of consumption and production. With this in mind, the intention is that, at the end of the project, there will be a set of decision-making data and tools that can be applied by any public authority in Europe and which will result in the creation of waste prevention and management procedures in the urban environment.
Twenty-four European cities are involved in the three-year project, which will be coordinated by the Cremona municipality (Italy). The results will be used to establish the goals and indicators of the Strategic Plan for Waste Prevention and Management in the eight pilot cities: Cremona, Torino and two cities in the Rome metropolitan area (Italy), Bucharest (Romania), Leiria (Portugal) and Manresa and Sabadell (Spain).