Environment and sustainability

LEGIT - Laboratory for an Ecological Citizenship


Who is behind this?

Rui Monteiro

Rio Neiva - Associação de Defesa do Ambiente / Rio Neiva - Environmental NGO



Who is joining forces?

CEA - Municipal Environmental Education Centre



PNLN - Natural Litoral Northern Park



Both are public organisations which reflect a drive to engage, since an early stage, relevant local public authorities as to ensure wider reach and participation, through their regular channels.


Idea pitch

LEGIT is an open lab striving to develop participatory and grassroots ecological citizenship, through an eco-parliament, community radio and book, participatory documentary and open letters. We are based in the Neiva river valley, a rural area and natural park in northern coastal Portugal, where agriculture, fisheries and tourism activities are the norm but so is severe soil and underground water pollution. It’s a place to challenge local citizens to explore their own territory and voice.

Where will your project idea take place?

Neiva river mouth rural area, between Esposende and Viana do Castelo municipalities (Portugal).

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

As a territory within a Natural Park, there is a communication and knowledge gap on local environmental policies/ actions, leading to misunderstandings and frustrations on the importance of biodiversity for local development and quality of life, namely:
- recognised lack of involvement of local citizens and businesses in political/ technical decisions for increased legitimacy (2019 NaturalPark assessment future report);
- complex web of local environmental processes/ information channels, undecipherable to most citizens;
- rural area strongly dependent on fisheries, professional (and domestic) agriculture and, most recently, nature tourism;
- recurrent severity above the threshold of soil and underground water pollution, jeopardizing the sustainability of local economic activities.

Who are you doing it for?

The total local population is estimated at 5150, from which we expect to actively engage 400 participants from the main target-groups:
- local citizens / residents (specially those close to agriculture, fisheries and tourism);
- local youngsters and students;
- local businesses (mostly from agriculture, fisheries and tourism);
- local public authority leaders/ agents (most specially from environmental departments).

Considering the proposed methods (below), we will record different and contrasting perspectives. We will also provide a special attention to youngsters and students by developing at least one eco-assembly session just with them.

Our secondary target-groups will be:
- other CSOs;
- school directors and teachers.

How do you plan to get there?

1. Eco-Parliament: monthly thematic debates / infosessions adhering to parliamentary principles. Prior to the first session we will co-build a DYI wood structure for the meetings;

2. Community Radio: interviews to the target-groups on their aspirations and environmental concerns and coverage of eco-assembly sessions;

3. Community Book: book co-creation with participants on their desires, knowledge and vision for a local sustainable community;

4. Participatory Documentary: co-filmed video documentary and short stories with target-groups on their environmental awareness, actions, motivations and aspirations (using cellphones);

5. Open letters: by individuals or groups of citizens on open or co-defined topics, to be a speech in eco-parliament sessions and online dissemination.

What are the expected results?

We are aiming at an overall increase in citizens participation and motivation and public authorities openess and engagement. Through anonymous surveys we would like to achieve at least 70% of participants responding “agree and fully agree” to:
- I feel more engaged in my community civic life;
- I feel I have a chance to have my voice heard;
- I am better informed on existing environmental problems and policies;
- I am better informed on whom to talk to in these matters; and
- I am more motivated to do differently and sustainably, being mindful of different and legitimate perspectives, interests and aspirations.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Based on the ecological citizenship idea, we are aiming for a step-by-step transformation in beliefs, attitudes and behaviours, to:
- provide a voice to each participant and role valorisation in the local community;
- provide key informative and discussion sessions on local (and national and european) environmental problems and public policies in a meaningful and non-technical way;
- provide on-the-ground knowledge of the community everyday life regarding environmental related matters (i.e. agriculture, water use, etc.) to public authorities and all community members;
- create a close, informal and warm atmosphere for dialogue between the local community and public authorities;
- use and test different mediums to engage and disseminate the local community voices.

Why is this idea important to you?

We know (almost) every corner of where we are: its people, its beauty, its problems. As the only environmental NGO in the territory we always feel as having an unaccomplished mission in hand.
Located just on the river banks, we are at the heart of our target-area, and from there we can observe the natural landscape, the biodiversity, the locals stopping by, the youngsters taking canoeing lessons, or that weird looking water color in the river that still occurs from time to time!
In what was originally built to become a birds observation station but never came to be, as public money and priorities fell short to make it happen, the place quickly became abandoned; from there we picked it up and made it a home. That’s what drives us: a sense of creating homes for our community.

€ 50000,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

HR (4 pax, 1 w/ no remuneration): 25000€
Book design+print: 1500€
Lab Blueprint design+print: 1000€
Visual identity and website: 2500€
Social media: 400€
Comm support: 2500€
Eco-parliament facilitator: 3000€
Local travel: 800€
Transport for students to ecoparliament: 800€
Event logistics: 3000€
Office supplies: 1000€
Radio equipement rent/ support: 1000€
Speakers travel/ accomm: 1500€
Materials wood ecoparliament and support expert: 4000€
CivicEurope meetings travel (4 pax): 2000€

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would most welcome the following inputs:
- clarity of the idea and how it can be improved;
- learning new ways/approaches to keep a community engaged;
- sharing of results and challenges.


Rui Monteiro

Rui Coelho

Clara Roberti

Rui Pedro Almeida

Augusta Almeida

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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