EcoValdevez: Educating for Eco-citizenship
City/Region : Municipio de Arcos de Valdevez , Portugal

EcoValdevez encompasses a set of equipment, projects and initiatives that aim to “educate for ecocitizenship”. We are working with different social groups and entities in order to encourage the active citizenship of citizens as agents of change. Ecocitizenship is at the base of building this more sustainable society. The construction of the “eco-citizen” personality is based on the values of citizenship, the environment and sustainability, grounded in education, science and innovation, as tools for transforming society.

This project meets the Sustainable Development Goals, which constitute the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationUrban mobilityBiodiversity
Greenfield land and natural spaceWater resources and air qualityClimate change
Public spaceSocial inclusion and integrationLocal economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
environmental education activity of Museu da Água

Arcos de Valdevez is a Municipality with 447.6 km2 and 20926 inhabitants. It is classified as  Biosphere Reserve, has a vast Natural Heritage, the Peneda-Gerês National Park, the areas classified as Natura 2000 Network and the National Monument - Cultural Landscape of Sistelo.

Despite these natural values, we are aware that we face major challenges in terms of the sustainability of the territory, such as: population aging, change in land use, biological invasions and forest fires.

This framework entails for the Municipality an increased responsibility for safeguarding these natural values ​​and for improving the quality of life of the community, through an activity aimed at environmental sustainability.

We believe that some of these problems are the result of a lack of scientific and environmental literacy. In this sense, the municipality defined “Educating for Eco-citizenship” as one of the pillars of the sustainable development strategy for this territory.


In Action
EcoVoluntariado do Vez

EcoValdevez equipment network:

- Museu da Água ao Ar Livre do Rio Vez aims to promote and preserve the natural heritage and built heritage of Rio Vez (

- Porta do Mezio - represents one of the five gates of the Peneda-Gerês National Park (

- Oficinas de Criatividade Himalaya– space dedicated to science and sustainability (

- Interpretive Center “Rochas que Contam Histórias” – creation of a geo-educational plan, an Atlas of Geodiversity, a GeoPortal, a Mobile Application, Digital Content for Virtual Visitation, and Interpretive Routes.

EcoValdevez initiatives and projects:

- Environmental Awareness in preschool

- "Project GNOMON – Escolas da Biodiversidade" to promote awareness in the school community for the conservation of natural heritage.

- Eco Schools Program in the school

- “Alto Minho Energenius” energy-environmental awareness campaign aimed at the school community.

- School4All: Integrated and Innovative Plan to Combat School Failure

- “Guarda-Rios do Vez” adoption of sections of the Vez river by the school to monitor its status.

- “Era uma Vez…O Rio Vez” intends to share and express the look and feel of children about Rio Vez.

- “Hug to the rio Vez” environmental education activity

- "HUG TO THE FOREST" to make students aware of the protection of natural values

-“EcoVoluntarido do Vez” youth volunteer program for Nature (

- Protect “Mercado Circular” encourages the circular economy, reducing the use of plastics and food waste.

- “Comércio a reciclar” project, a collection project dedicated to merchants that calls for the separation of waste.

- Intermunicipal Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (PIAAC)

- Natural Habitat Recovery Plan for the Peneda National Park – Gerês

- Project “Gerês-Xurés Dinâmico” with the objective of Strengthening the entity and identity of the Gerês-Xurés Transfrontier Biosphere Reserve through its sustainable economic and tourist development and the protection and conservation of its natural and cultural heritage.

- Peneda National Park Enhancement Program – Gerês

- Increase in the Ecovia network, footbridges and the network of viewpoints and rails (

- Green Plan: implementation of a strategy for green spaces in order to increase the quality of green spaces for the community to enjoy.

- EcoVia Vez is developed along the rivers Vez and Lima for a length of 34km (

EcoValdevez equipment and initiatives can be consulted in more detail in the Municipal Environmental Plan (

Planting trees with schools

Main results:

- In 2020, 25 thousand people visited Porta do Mezio

- Since opening on May the 2021 we have already hosted more than 5000 people at Oficinas de Criatividade Himalaya.

- Since 2019, the Museu da Água has received 9,000 people and promoted activities with the participation of 300 people and activities of the Environmental Education Plan with 700 students in the year 2020-2021.

- “EcoVoluntariodo do Vez” had the participation of 16 young people (maximum limit due to the pandemic). The actions carried out were the control of invasive species, garbage collection, bicycle surveillance of nature and the construction of shelters for insects and birds.

- 4000 students participated in the Gnomon – Escolas da Bioesfera Project.

- Recycling increase by 3.5% compared to 2018 and implementation of projects: "Comércio a reciclar ", Eco-value Project, Mercado Circular, UPCYCLING Activities and distribution of ecobags.

- Project “Sustainable Urban Mobility –Pedestrian and Cycling Network” with the construction of 38 km of pedestrian/cycling paths.

- Adherence to the Covenant of Mayors and implementation of the “Alto Minho Energenius” project (1600 students) and the “Social LED Project” (offer of 1343 light bulbs), and energy efficiency actions in municipal buildings and public lighting with the Project “Promotion of Energy Sustainability-Interventions in Infrastructure”.

- We planted dozens of trees and intend to plant 100,000 more

- We recovered more than 20 km of the river Vez

- "Hug to the Rio Vez and the Forest" with the participation of 4500 students

- “Guarda-Rios do Vez” with 120 students participating.

- “Once upon a time…O Rio Vez” with 1500 students participation

- Cleaning actions in partnership with 21 Parish Councils and with the participation of hundreds of volunteers

- Eco-School Program involved 2500 students

- EcoVia with visits of 60 000 people/year


EcoValdevez has allowed it to reach a growing audience. We are working on the personality of the “EcoCitizen” in order to achieve a culture of sustainability through education, science and innovation. This project has an integrative approach between the Socio-Cultural and Environmental sectors.

Environmental Impact

We believe that the quality of life for future generations depends on our present capacity to create resilient and sustainable territories. The main objective is education, from the youngest to the oldest and regardless of their religious affiliation, ethnic identity or gender, working a culture of sustainability with social inclusion.

All activities are free for this project to be inclusive and integrative. We are involving public and private partners and working with schools, Cultural and Sports Groups, Associations, Social Solidarity Institutions, Leisure Activity Centers and Companies, to reach as many people as possible.

With this project we have already managed to involve thousands of citizens with dozens of actions and projects. The change in the community's sustainable behaviors and concerns are already evident, as well as the adhesion to the challenges launched by this project. We have been able to create an affective and effective connection between people and nature that otherwise would not have environmental concerns.

economic impact

This project has already created 10 direct jobs, but we intend to increase this number. We have contributed to local development, mainly in the tourism sector and companies underlying this sector,and local products  and provided the creation of new employment opportunities and the creation of green market niches that contribute to the fixation of the population, especially young people.

Through the activities, of a scientific nature, developed in this project, we were also able to support science and researchers, while creating attractiveness in the area of ​​scientific tourism.

Challenges and lessons learned
Hug to the Rio Vez

1. the biggest challenge is to captivate people to join environmental awareness and education activities.

2. for change to take place in society, continuous and close work is needed, which begins at school as a means of diffusion.

3. all interventions and teachings are substantiated with science and carried out by specialized technicians.

4. Partnerships with associations and private entities are essential for the continuity of this project.

5. Only by working in a network can we achieve goals with scale.



ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

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79098 Freiburg

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