i. Climate change context
Located in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe, Portugal is bordered to the north and east by Spain and to the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. According to the 7th National Communication (2017), the territory has a total area of 92,225.62 km2 that comprises three different regions, the European continental area and other two areas that are archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores, and Madeira. The World Bank (2021) indicates that Portugal is home to around 10.3 million people, of which 65.2% live in urban areas. Most of the resident population is located along the Atlantic coast.
According to the World Bank, Portugal is vulnerable to climate change effects, mainly from extreme events linked to lack (droughts) or excess (floods) of rainfall and heat waves. The World Bank indicates a high annual average of natural hazards such as storms and wildfires from 1980 to 2020. In addition, Portuguese coastlines are vulnerable due to significant sea level rise, facing a significant threat from the phenomena of coastal erosion, coastal floods, cliffs instability, and landslides.
According to the Global Carbon Atlas, Portugal is a medium-emitting country with emissions of around 3.7 t CO2 per person in 2020. Portugal’s 7th National Communication (2017) states that the most significant emitting sectors as of 2015 were energy (70%), industrial processes and product uses (11%), agriculture (10%), and waste. Within the energy sector, public electricity, heat production, and transport are the highest emitters.
Portugal joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as an Annex-I party. The country has signed and ratified all climate change agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, the Paris Agreement in 2016, and the Doha Amendment in 2018.
Following multinational initiatives on climate change, the Portuguese government signed a Climate Emergency Declaration in 2019 with the condition of rejecting everything that might put any political meaning to it, meaning it is primarily symbolic.
Efforts to address climate change in Portugal can be seen in cities such as Lisbon, which won the European Green Capital Award for 2020 for cities that institute efforts to improve environment-friendly initiatives and urban living. In 2009, the city of Porto also joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate Change & Energy (Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy). An initiative launched in 2008 in Europe, with the ambition of bringing together local governments voluntarily committed to achieving and exceeding the EU's climate and energy goals. Recently, in addition to Porto, other cities defined their Municipal Strategy for Adaptation to Climate in accordance with the Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change Guidelines.
ii. Relevant government agencies
In Portugal, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action is responsible for developing, implementing, and monitoring environmental policies, land use planning, cities, housing, urban transportation, climate, nature conservation, and energy. Under the Ministry’s jurisdiction, other secretariats join the work. For instance, the General Secretariat for the Environment supports the government’s performance in environmental and climate action, nationally and internationally. The Secretariat works in policy making, planning, monitoring, financial, technical tasks, communication, and public relations. At the time of this review, Portugal had not designated a National Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point.
Under the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action‘s jurisdiction, the Portuguese Environment Agency has a vital role. The Agency is a group of about 800 professionals, including an accredited laboratory network that oversees the development, monitoring, and implementation of climate change plans. They work on waste, air, environmental assessment, circular economy, and environmental education. In addition, the Agency develops self-report documents such as Portugal’s 4th Biennial Report to the UNFCCC.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food works on policies and initiatives related to agri-food, use of land, public transportation, forestry, and conservation. These often link to climate change matters.
Due to its extensive coastline, Portugal works seriously on marine protection. The Ministry of the Economy and the Sea coordinates policies for protecting, planning, managing, and exploiting sea resources. The Ministry fosters scientific knowledge, innovation, and technological development of sea matters.
Working in parallel to the Ministry of the Sea, the General Directorate for Sea Policy develops, evaluates, and updates the National Ocean Strategy 2021–2030. This Strategy aims for ocean security, while meeting hurdles such as climate change with sustainable responses that benefit sea economic activities and conservation and protection of sea life. The Directorate supports the Portuguese policy for the sea and promotes national and international cooperation in maritime matters.
The General Inspectorate for Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Territorial Planning is a body from administration of the State, jointly exercised by the Ministry of the Economy and the Sea , the Ministry for the Environment and Climate Action, the Minister for Territorial Cohesion, and the Minister for Agriculture and Food. The institution plays a role on control, inspection, and audit aspects in public and private sectors, including inspection on environmental matters such as preventive risk measures, health, ensuring safety of people, food and good supplies.
Attached to the Portuguese State jurisdiction, the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forest is in charge of monitoring and implementing nature and forest conservation policies, including the management of protected areas of the Portuguese territory. The institute is aligned to values of conservation, sustainable use, enhancement and enjoyment of the natural heritage. In addition, it ensures hunting resources, fishing and aquaculture on inland waters.
The Commission for Climate Action is chaired by the Minister of the Environment in Portugal, representatives of the regional governments of the Azores and Madeira, and members of different areas/ministries, including the education area. Therefore, the Commission encompasses a government structure that aims to monitor and promote climate policies nationally and sectoral, articulating the interests of regional, national and international sectors.
The Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere is a public agency empowered by Law to promote, monitor, and coordinate research on the sea and the atmosphere. The institute develops functions in meteorology, climatology, seismology, aeronomy and geomagnetism.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education of Portugal is responsible for managing the national policy on the education system, in the scope of preschool education, primary and secondary education and extra-school education, the national policy on youth and sport, and professional training.
Under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, the General Directorate of Education implements policies of preschool education, primary and secondary education, extracurricular education and technical assistance for their formulation. The Directorate works mainly in curriculum development, teaching and assessment tools, and education support and supplements.
The Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education is responsible for the performance of national policies for science, technology and higher education. It supports scientific and technological innovation and information and culture dissemination, and fosters scientific and technological cooperation.
The National Statistical Institute produces, tracks and collects statistical information in Portugal. The institute promotes the coordination, analysis, innovation and dissemination of national statistics. The institute offers statistics about the environment, education, training, and learning topics.
The Portuguese Environmental Education Association is a non-profit environmental non-governmental organization founded in 1990. The Association has the primary objective of developing environmental education in formal and non-formal education through creating pedagogical resources, national and international cooperation, awareness campaigns and talks, among others.
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
Portugal’s strong climate framework works on adaptation and mitigation to address climate change. An important legal instrument is the Climate Basic Law (2021), which recognizes the climate emergency, supports a sustainable economy and energy and promotes the mainstreaming of climate policies. In addition, the Law strengthens climate policy governance, planning, financial, monitoring, and sectoral climate policy instruments. The Law directs public climate policies in Portugal to seek an ecological balance and fight against climate change. Objectives are promoting climate change education, innovation, knowledge, technology development and access to information, and building adaptation capacity (Article 3).
Establishing the Strategy Framework for Climate Policy in Portugal, Resolutions 56/2015 and 53/2020 set out the vision and objectives of the national climate policy. In response to Portugal’s commitments, the Framework promotes a low-carbon economy, sustainable practices, capacity building, adaptation skills, research, production of knowledge and information, encouragement of society in climate change matters, and financing of projects, among others. This legislation is key to empowering measures and instruments to combat climate change in the horizon 2030.
According to the Portuguese Environmental Agency, the main instruments in mitigating climate change are the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 (2019) and the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021–2030 (2019).
Portugal aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The government launched the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 (2019) as a long-term plan based on eight promises to implement economic, energy and social transformations linked to carbon neutrality in all sectors. The Roadmap promotes research, knowledge production, climate monitoring in Portugal, public participation, education, access to information, and awareness raising. The Roadmap aims to empower Portugal with sustainable opportunities that do not compromise 2050 goals.
Complementary to the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050, the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021–2030 (2019) is a shorter-term plan to meet greater challenges within the first years of carbon neutrality work. The Plan supports a sustainable economy based on renewable resources and efficient resource use, establishing five objectives: limiting greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable consumption, public transport and electric mobilization, more efficient buildings, inclusion of energy sources, and promotion of research, innovation and competitiveness.
The Portuguese Environment Agency highlights that adaptation measures are guided by the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (2020), which promotes enhanced climate change knowledge, adaptation guidelines, and integration of adaptation into sectoral policies, to empower Portugal for better adaptation to climate change. Complementing the National Strategy is the Action Program for Adaptation to Climate Change (2019), which focuses on implementation of measures for adaptation, including cooperation in capacity building, awareness raising, and communication.
The National Roadmap for Adaptation 2100 is a project under the Portuguese Environmental Agency, which is expected to launch in 2023. This long-term Roadmap focuses on assessing the vulnerability of Portugal to climate change and estimating the cost of economic sectors to adapt to expected climate change impacts in 2100.
The Recovery and Resilience Plan was launched in 2021 to implement a set of reforms and investments, seeking to restore sustainable economic growth by 2026. To help Portugal recover from severe economic and social shocks induced by the COVID-19 crisis, the Plan has three dimensions of structural intervention: 1) resilience, to increase the ability to face future challenges in strategic areas (health, housing, social responses, culture, business, competences, infrastructure, forestry and water management); 2) climate transition, to contribute to carbon neutrality by 2050 while working on specific areas (sea, sustainable mobility, decarbonization of industry, bioeconomy, energy efficiency in buildings, renewable energies); and 3) the digital transition, encouraging companies, the state and other sectors to increase digitization and provide digital skills in essential areas (empowerment and digital inclusion by education, training, digital literacy, digital transformation of private and public sectors).
The National Ocean Strategy 2021–2030’s promotes sustainable blue development and well-being of the Portuguese people. Practices in maritime life conservation are a focus, as well as sustainable economy and behaviors that do not affect the sea or consumption. The Strategy supports initiatives such as innovation, international cooperation, scientific knowledge, education, and maritime transportation. The Strategy aims to address linked global topics and climate change matters, by ecosystem restoration and protection, economic decarbonization, renewable energy growth, and health and water supply protection, among others.
To ensure good air quality as an essential natural resource for life, the Portuguese government has made commitments and strengthened the legal framework. The Portuguese Environment Agency has a dedicated section for air and noise, highlighting advances, projects, and gaps. The National Air Strategy (2020) was presented for consultation, aiming to assess, anticipate and act to improve air quality for human health, quality of life, and ecosystem protection and preservation. The Strategy includes knowledge/information and research/development in its lines of action.
Education and communication
Portugal’s Political Constitution (1976, amended in 2005) guarantees the right to a healthy environment and ecologically balanced human lives (Article 66). To pursue this commitment, the Constitution designates environmental education and respect for environmental values among the State’s duties.
Various climate change policies have developed education initiatives. For instance, the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 aims to encourage people to address climate challenges through climate change education, information, and awareness raising to increase individual and collective action. The National Ocean Strategy 2021–2030 implements strategic goals of increasing knowledge to address climate change and of strengthening education, culture, and ocean literacy with aligned insights into environmental and climate change matters.
In Portugal, primary and secondary education is guided by an Autonomy and Flexibility Curricula that, according to the 7th National Communication, is supported by three strategic documents. 1) The Student’s Profile by the End of Compulsory Education (2017) includes the aim of educating people for a good, sustainable, and participative society. 2) The Key Learnings are divided by education levels and subjects to establish skills, knowledge, and attitudes to be developed by students. 3) The National Strategy for Citizenship Education (2017) sets duties and rights that must be included in civic education to build a civic society that fulfills equality, human rights, and democracy. The Strategy is organized into three areas and includes sustainable development and environmental education in the first area (mandatory for all elementary education levels).
The curricular document Framework of Environmental Education for Sustainability (2018) is aligned with citizenship education. The Framework focuses on teacher training and education actions to raise sustainability awareness, including mainstreaming climate change matters.
The National Strategy for Development Education 2018–2022 focuses on development education in relation to global citizenship education. The Strategy aims to prevent discrimination and is related to the Sustainable Development Goals. Climate change is not specifically mentioned, although the document discusses environmental degradation.
The National Environmental Education Strategy (2020) is an essential instrument in Portugal to support education systems, knowledge creation, and awareness raising. The Strategy aims to empower both formal students and whole citizens, such as decision makers and public and private stakeholders, to address environmental challenges from local and global perspectives (Including climate change intrinsically). The goal is to create sustainable actions and a participative society. The Strategy’s commitment is to build and enhance environmental literacy in Portugal that is reflected in sustainable behaviors throughout human activity. Climate change is part of the Strategy.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
According to the 7th National Communication, environmental education has been included in formal education programs since the late 1970s. Other terms used are ‘environmental education for sustainability,’ ‘global environmental problems,’ ‘climate education,’ ‘climate justice,’ ‘climate crisis,’ and ‘climate alterations.’
The Geography curriculum document (2018) for secondary students from the Key Learning documents includes the term ‘global environmental problems’ as a threat to address. The curriculum document includes concepts such as climate change, the greenhouse effect, and clean technologies.
The Climate Basic Law (2021) mentions ‘climate education’ and ‘climate education policy.’ The Law does not include a specific meaning, but mentions the objective: “The Government, in articulation with the autonomous regions, local authorities and other entities, promotes climate education actions aimed at raising awareness among the population in general” (Article 60). Additionally, the Climate Basic Law seeks for national climate policy to guarantee for Portugal “climate justice, ensuring the protection of the communities most vulnerable to the climate crisis, respect for human rights, equality and collective rights over the commons” (Article 3).
The National Environmental Education Strategy (2020) states, “In the face of climate changes that the Planet is witnessing, it is necessary to implement measures of most beneficial adaptation to medium term, complemented with those of combat, to minimize its impact.” (p. 16)
Climate change is expressly identified as a global issue among Portuguese documents, along with the aim of implementing initiatives. The National Strategy for Citizenship Education (2017) says
Today we live in a world facing global problems like climate change, extremism, unequal access to fundamental goods and rights, and humanitarian crises, among others. The solution lies with working together, joining forces towards finding the solutions for the threats against humanity. (p. 3)
The aim of empowering people to address climate change through climate change education is clear in the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050. The Roadmap mentions that a “need for vast climate literacy at all levels of Portuguese society demonstrates the fundamental role of the education system, universities, vocational training, and research laboratories.” (p. 91)
The Framework of Environmental Education for Sustainability (2018) defines environmental education for sustainability.
Environmental education for sustainability, in a broader framework of education for citizenship, currently constitutes a fundamental aspect of education, as a process of raising awareness, promoting of values, and change of attitudes and behaviors towards the environment, in a perspective of sustainable development. (p. 10)
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
According to the World Bank, Portugal allocated around 4.7% of gross domestic product in 2018 to education, but does not specify how much is allocated to climate change communication and education.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Action highlighted, in the analysis proposal for the State Budget for 2022, that the budget for the environment and climate action area increased by 37% in 2 years. Funding grew from US$ 2.7 billion (EUR 2.7 billion) in 2020 to US$ 3.7 billion (EUR 3.7 billion) in 2022.
The AdaPT (Adapting Portugal to Climate Change) program of the Portuguese Environment Agency financially supports climate change adaptation programs in Portugal. AdaPT was developed through the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (2019) and benefits from the support of other European countries under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. Part of AdaPT is the Education and Climate Change Award, which brings climate change information to schools through the Clima EduMedia project.
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
Portugal has a system of free compulsory education until the age of 18 years old. The system is overseen by the Ministry of Education and its decentralized entities. For primary and secondary curricula, the General Directorate of Education develops, implements, and evaluates the curriculum framework, Including environmental, sustainable, and climate change education projects.
Through the climate change policy of the Climate Basic Law (2021; Article 60), the government must guarantee to incorporate climate education into primary and secondary education curricula.
The Student’s Profile by the End of Compulsory Education (2017) contributes to organizing and managing curricula, setting out what young people are expected to achieve by the end of compulsory schooling. The Profile establishes learning dimension objectives through specific principles, vision, values and competencies, including development of scientific, cultural and critical thinking skills and attitudes. Objectives align with expected learning approaches such as economic and environmental sustainability, well-being, health and social participation to build a good and sustainable society. The Autonomy and Flexibility Curricula allow schools to manage up to 25% of the weekly hours of basic curriculum per school year. Portuguese schools thus have autonomy to include climate change topics in their curricula.
The Environmental Education group of topics is aligned to the Framework of Environmental Education for Sustainability (2018) as key for citizenship education on raising awareness and fostering environmentally friendly behaviors. The Framework includes climate change matters. Students’ learning results are to include aspects such as acknowledging climate change causes, environmental impacts, and cognitive and action learning dimensions for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Students are encouraged to gain new skills and knowledge through assigned projects and teaching time aligned with different subjects at school.
The Ministry of Education curriculum on Sustainable Development supports acquiring sustainable knowledge and skills, promotes quality of life and secures future generations’ needs. The curriculum aligns with other documents, stakeholders, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the pre-primary, primary and secondary Education for Development Framework, promoting sustainable knowledge, skills and behaviors to empower students to address local and global challenges in a fair, inclusive and supportive world.
The Key Learning sections for Basic Education (6–15 years old) and Secondary Education (10th, 11th, and 12th school years) complement the education framework’s curricular documents for all levels and subjects. According to the 7th National Communication in Basic education, climate change is included progressively with students learning first about environmental conservation such as air quality and pollution. Climate change for older students can be found in the context of geography, physico-chemical sciences, and natural sciences, including topics such as effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, environment, and society, and natural risks. In Secondary Education, climate change is addressed in Geography, Chemistry and Physics, and Natural Sciences such as Geology, Biology and Geography, including topics such as global warming, environmental conservation, and greenhouse effects. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
Climate change strategies or plans promote climate change education and its enhancement. For instance, the National Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 insists that to achieve 2050 goals, decarbonization topics must be introduced into curricula at multiple education levels (p. 91). In addition to pursuing sustainable blue development, the National Ocean Strategy 2021–2030 aims to enhance sustainable maritime topics in education and culture and to increase ocean literacy. The Strategy seeks to mainstream related issues into all areas and suggests starting in the first year of school using established Key Learning sections.
The Portuguese Association of Environmental Education works in formal and informal environmental education. The Association supports initiatives such as EducOcean, a pedagogical program on ocean literacy for students of all levels. The program encourages students through exploration, debates, experimental science, research and dynamic activities. The program’s main themes are Impact of Climate Change on the Oceans, Warming Ocean, and Life in Danger, which aim to develop cognitive and action learning dimensions, generate knowledge about ocean problems, and raise awareness to collaborate through new learned habits
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
Teachers in Portugal have several options for continuing training. For instance, the Education for Citizenship section of the General Directorate of Education develops groups for the National Strategy for Citizenship Education (2017), including Environmental Education and Sustainable Development education, where teachers can find pedagogical material on climate change matters.
The National Environmental Education Strategy (2020) considers teachers to be the main drivers of environmental education, both in non-formal and formal education. To enhance inclusion of environmental matters in curricula, the Strategy promotes teacher training across academic areas.
The decentralized entity Scientific Pedagogical Council for Continuing Education certifies teacher training centers. The Council identifies centers that include climate change topics. Among the offered training is Study of Climate Change in Earth’s History from the Study of Rocks, Meteorology, Climate Change and Risks as a Pedagogical Exploration, The Climate of Portugal and Climate Change, and Educating for Climate Change.
The consolidated non-governmental organization League for the Protection of Nature, founded in 1948, is a certified organization for teacher training. The League supports the Education for Citizenship training section from the General Directorate of Education, offering activities related to climate change such as Conservation of the Environment, Environmental Education, Coastal and Forest Topics and Sustainable Development as a Domain of Education for Citizenship.
The Portuguese Association of Environmental Education is a leader in developing material and initiatives for teacher training. The Association cooperates with teacher training centers, offering didactic material such as Live Energy from Earth, a teacher manual that includes human evolution, the industrial revolution, energy, climate change and solutions. The manual contains activities for students and questionnaires that can be applied in the classroom.
The 7th National Communication (2017) mentions accomplishments in teacher training. For instance, international training congresses were organized by multiple stakeholders, including the Ministry of Environment and Action Climate and the Ministry of Education. Teachers could learn and discuss climate change topics aligned to international cooperation, awareness raising, socio-economic development, etc.
iii. Climate change in higher education
Portugal has a binary system of university and polytechnic education, imparted by public and private institutions. Some examples of master's and doctoral degrees related to climate and environmental change are presented.
In Portugal, the Climate Basic Law (2021) requires the government to promote the development of teaching material on climate change in higher education, respecting the autonomy of each institution.
Doctoral programs on climate change are offered at universities, such as the University of Aveiro program in Energy Systems and Climate Change. The PhD program on Climate Change and Sustainable Development Policies at the Faculty of Science of Monte da Caparica works with the Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon. This PhD program aims to train researchers in climate change and sustainable development policies so that they can contribute to identify, analyze and implement new strategies and initiatives for sustainable development in the context of the increasing risk of anthropogenic climate change during this century and forthcoming centuries.
The University of Algarve, together with international universities, offers a Master’s program in Coastal Hazards - Risk, Climate Change Impacts, and Adaptation. This 2-year program prepares professionals for global critical thinking to support societies in addressing and adapting to coastal hazards. In addition, the university has a postgraduate course on Adaptation to Climate & Mitigation for graduates in related areas. Among the course’s objectives are to train professionals with abilities to strengthen adaptation to climate change, identify and integrate appropriate climate strategies and solutions, enhance capacity building on climate change matters, and communicate global climate realities and new behaviors to collaborate on mitigation and adaptation.
The University Institute of Lisbon offers a Master’s program in Studies of Environment and Sustainability, which trains students to cooperate on sustainable projects that conserve the environment by conserving resources, adapting to climate change, managing waste, guiding land use, supporting renewable energies, and others. The syllabus contains themes of environmental globalization, biodiversity, environment, society, and climate change.
Universidade Aberta, the only public distance education university in Portugal, offers a Master in Environmental Citizenship and Participation which addresses Climate Change, Urban Metabolism, Life Cycle Assessment, Green Economy, and Industrial Ecology, always from the perspective of sustainable development. Also, Universidade Aberta offers a Doctoral Degree in Social Sustainability and Development which aims to qualify professionals in advanced studies in the area of sustainable development, especially the environmental and socio-economic aspects.
The Faculty of Sciences of University of Lisbon offers a Master Programme in Ecology and Environmental Management aiming to prepare qualified human resources, with inter-disciplinary skills to understand and manage natural ecosystems, and assure an environmentally sustainable development.
The University of Coimbra offers some Master’s and Doctoral degrees such as the Master in Marine Biology and Global Change, the Master in Sustainable Cities and Communities, the Doctoral Program in Environmental Engineering and the Doctoral Program in Sustainable Energy Systems. Climate Change is addressed in all these Master’s and Doctoral Programs.
Under the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Climate-Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) initiative, the New University of Lisbon includes the EIT Climate-KIC Master School Program. This Program is open to Masters’ students from all disciplines who are interested in increasing their climate change knowledge for climate innovation leadership. The goal is to effectively create sustainable products or offer services that can cooperate in addressing the climate crisis.
The international partnership MIT Portugal Program includes Portuguese universities, research institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Portuguese government, and other stakeholders. To strengthen higher education in different fields, the Program includes research in Climate Science & Climate Change to generate valuable data, analysis, and innovations in the field.
Portuguese national strategies include climate change topics in tertiary education, such as the National Ocean Strategy 2021–2030. That Strategy highlights that knowledge must be at the service of people and that universities are vital to developing scientific knowledge and research, supported by public policies and multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
Among the national climate policy’s objectives of the Climate Basic Law (2021) are to strengthen Portugal’s resilience and capacity building to adapt to climate change. The Law encourages national policies and entities, including the military, to acquire climate knowledge and skills for climate security and national defense.
The National Energy and Climate Plan 2021–2030 (2019) fosters capacity building for more sustainable production and consumption patterns in its lines of action. The Plan seeks to implement capacity building to address climate change matters in compulsory education and for private sectors, entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations, consumers, etc.
The National Environmental Education Strategy (2020) includes training for public and private sectors. The Strategy’s objectives are to foster training in environmental and sustainability topics (which can intrinsically include climate change), promote continuous environmental training for professionals, and support professional internships in the environmental area.
The Portuguese Association of Environmental Education is vital to giving climate training opportunities to the public, professionals in the area, young people, and organizations. The Association joins with multiple organizations to prepare initiatives. For example, the Nature Association Portugal organizes environmental training for schools, families, and professionals, including topics linked to climate change.
Non-governmental organizations such as the League for the Protection of Nature offer open training for stakeholders. The League has created online trainings, such as Environmental Education and Educating for Soil Biodiversity, for teachers, environmental education technicians, leisure activity animators, summer camps animators, and the interested public.
i. Climate change and public awareness
Aligned to climate change education efforts, Article 60 of the Climate Basic Law (2021) designates government and national entities in Portugal to promote climate education activities to raise awareness of the general population.
Climate policies in Portugal acknowledge that public awareness is key to achieving future goals. Policies encourage the public on both cognitive and action learning dimensions. The Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050 (2019) includes, in its directions and action lines for a carbon neutral society, promoting “the involvement of society in the transition, contributing to increasing individual and collective action, the adoption of sustainable behaviors and a change in patterns of production and consumption in favor of sustainability, particularly through environmental education and awareness.” (p. 94)
According to the Climate Change Eurobarometer 2021, Portuguese respondents are the most likely in any EU member state to think climate change is a severe problem (91%, well above the EU average of 78%). Further, Portugal respondents are the most likely in any EU member state to say they have taken action to fight climate change in the past six months (83%, considerably above the EU average of 64%).
The Portuguese Association of Environmental Education is a leader in raising awareness through education programs, seminars, training, and strategies to disseminate awareness information through its website. In 2016 the Association won the Climate is with us contest, a Portuguese Environment Agency initiative to develop and implement national communication campaigns that raise awareness and empower citizens to address climate change.
Multinational support can be seen in campaign initiatives in Portugal. For instance, the CLIMAXIMO organization for climate justice cooperated with the Het Actiefonds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Campaigns were set up, including social media storms, discussions of oil companies’ actions, a webinar series to catch attention on climate activism and exit-quarantine protests under the slogan “Bail out the future, not profits” in Lisbon and other cities in Portugal.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
The Climate Basic Law (2021) requires that the State guarantees public access to climate change information. Article 10 supports a digital climate action portal, created by the government, to make information related to climate change matters public, free and accessible, following the principle of transparency.
The Government of Portugal has a common website where information about all ministries can be found, including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Environment and Energy Transition. Climate change information can be tracked through related official documents, news and national climate data. In addition, the Portuguese government has social media accounts offering climate change data, such as the General Secretariat for the Environment (SGAmbiente) LinkedIn and YouTube accounts. The YouTube account releases information about national climate policies, governance, awareness campaigns and consultation calls.
The Portuguese Environmental Agency‘s website provides access to broad environmental information on topics such as climate change, water, waste, risk prevention, and development. Users can follow links that offer national climate data, news, forecasts, a platform for inquiries, environmental education, and public participation, among others.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Climate-Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) describes itself as a Knowledge and Innovation Community, working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon, climate-resilient society. The EIT Climate-KIC cooperates multinational, especially with European countries, creating a network that supports climate change mitigation and adaptation. Its platform is a source of valuable information, including data from Portugal on the national climate, upcoming projects, climate policies, education, and innovative information and projects.
The Portuguese Association of Environmental Education offers a bank of valuable environmental and climate change information, from pedagogical information, a library, workshops and training calls to national and international projects. The Association uses Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts to make information (awareness campaigns, sustainable information, training calls, national reality, etc.) more accessible to users.
The Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere is responsible for the Climate Change Portal, with publicly accessible information. The Portal shares climate patterns/indicators in Portugal to measure variables in atmospheric events, including risk situations such as droughts, rainstorms, and fire risks. These inform the Portuguese population about the country’s future climate.
iii. Climate change and public participation
Articles of the Climate Basic Law (2021) allow citizens to participate in climate initiatives such as planning, decision making and evaluation of public policies. The State is required to make information available, clear and systematic for citizens to consult and be part of drafting, reviewing and consultations on climate policy instruments.
Most government agencies in Portugal receive inquiries and include consultations on plans, strategies, license permits, etc., in the ConsultationLex website where people can participate and collaborate to build or improve future strategies, projects and policies. The website includes environmental and education sections, although research for this report found no consultations on climate change or climate change education.
The Portuguese Environment Agency offers the Participa Public Consultation Portal, where the Agency provides a digital opportunity to participate in environmental consultations. Documents are posted on the website, where users can log in and give their input and reviews. Among the consultation opportunities are environmental assessments, strategies, water resource management, international matters and environmental licensing, including topics such as climate change, energy, urban strategies, building plans, agriculture and renewable energies.
Stakeholders such as the Young News Agency from the Portuguese Association of Environmental Education promote citizen participation through different initiatives. According to the 2021 Association Activity Report, the training titled Communication, Citizenship, and Public Policies invited young people 16 to 24 years old to participate in a 15-hour online course to educate them in public participation strategies, communication techniques, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the 7th National Communication (2017; p. 162), an excellent example of public participation in Portugal is the National Environmental Education Strategy (2020), which underwent public debate and participation. The process had two events: public participation through statements from 49 entities and individuals, and public consultation through 35 contributions.
i. Country monitoring
The Portuguese Environment Agency is responsible for carrying out the annual inventories of atmospheric pollutant emissions, at two levels: monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and implementing policies and measures related to the environment and climate change.
Different bodies cooperate on climate change monitoring. For example, the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere works on meteorological, climatic, seismic and other valuable information to measure vulnerability to climate change and the national situation, to support adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change.
The Portuguese government relies on the National Statistical Institute to develop and manage statistical information. Among the climate change and related information on the Institute’s website are statistics on urban waste, renewable energies, household consumption and global warming, linked to economic growth.
Related to education, the National Statistical Institute develops valuable information such as school dropout rates; higher education and secondary education levels of the population; enrollment rates; labor market data related to education, knowledge and skill level; and intergenerational transmission of education.
Portugal participated in the 2018 PISA Competence Study. Findings were positive for Portuguese students’ knowledge of global issues, as Portugal ranked among the countries with the highest awareness of global problems (including climate change and global warming).
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the 2017 Student’s Profile by the End of Compulsory Education, which is Portugal’s National Education Plan.
In the Student’s Profile by the End of Compulsory Education, ‘climate change’ is not mentioned, ‘environment’ is mentioned 2 times, and ‘biodiversity’ and ‘sustainability’ are not mentioned.
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.
This profile was reviewed by José Simão Antunes do Carmo, Associate Professor, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Coimbra, Portugal and Fernando José Pires Caetano, Associate Professor, Open University, Department of Science and Technology, Portugal.