Located on the northern bank of the Tagus River’s estuary, Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and the second largest European port on the Atlantic Ocean. The city faces environmental threats, including those linked to the impacts of climate change, and has been vulnerable to financial crisis in recent decades which triggered socio-economic and socio-spatial stresses on the city’s ecosystem.
The city enjoys a Subtropical-Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), is characterised by dry and hot summers and wet and fresh winter periods; while despite being exposed to heavy storms and rainfalls it has a relatively low precipitation rate (714mm/year) compared to other Portuguese cities.
With a population of over half a million – 2,8 million including its metropolitan boundaries (2892 km² source: REOT 2015, Vol. I) – and an annual GDP of 64 billion euros, Lisbon Metropolitan Area (LMA) constitutes Portugal’s largest urban expanse and contributes, with its region, to 37% of the national economic output. The metropolitan area – formally created in 1991 – stretches on both sides of the Tagus river and includes 17 municipalities.
Lisbon has always been exposed to natural shocks of some sort. The earthquake devastating the city in 1755 – and the consequent tsunami it generated – allegedly caused 20.000 deaths and, according to the chronicles of the time, it was one of the most devastating calamities of modern history. More recently, the Chiado fire of 1988 affected 8.000 m2 of urban area – causing extensive damage to residential and commercial properties – and is commonly considered as the most significant hazard impacting the city since 1755.
Within this context, and based on the analyses conducted by both local public stakeholders and international actors working on resilience in Lisbon, it is possible to profile two main strands of urban challenges. One related to the contextual environmental threats, coupled with the contingent impacts of climate change, the other linked to the financial crisis’ after-effects and the socio-economic or socio-spatial stresses it triggered on the city’s ecosystem.
Download Lisbon’s Resilience Action Plan