We present a testimonial from our associate FL, a text that she originally wrote for a subject of the Education for Sustainable Development course at the Earth Charter Institute, inspired by the story of Wangari Maathai*, Nobel Peace Prize winner, in 2004.
* Wangari, a Kenyan who has always known that the forest is one of humanity's greatest treasures, stood up to government officials, namely Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, (managed to prevent him from carrying out several real estate constructions) and helped to strengthen the Green Belt Movement to build a sustainable society. Persistence in the struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation earned Wangari the international recognition that still endures today.
I am lucky enough to have been born and still live in Carcavelos, 20 km from Lisbon city, Portugal, on the famous Estoril Coast. This area is great, because besides a fantastic climate, it has a lot of history and several urban beaches, in the middle of rocks, fortresses and chalets, some green areas, walls for walking and cycling, excellent waves for surfing and where we have had a wonderful life, where we have lacked nothing. Estoril Coast is so highly rated that we have been invaded by Portuguese from other parts of the country and foreigners, who also want to benefit from all this beauty and well-being.
The pressure of construction is being felt day by day. There are more and more people, houses, and cars. We have already started to feel a lot of changes, in terms of traffic, air pollution, less green spaces, people running over each other in their daily activities, like shopping, post office, restaurants, doing outdoor sports, where the number of bicycles, people running, surfing, among others, has increased exponentially, etc.
These conversations are daily among local people. It's not yet at the chaotic point, but it's heading there because nobody stops the politicians and the construction. They only care about having enough houses for the demand that is very high (and make money from that), without thinking about the future consequences.
Carcavelos, my hometown, has a fantastic beach, with world-class waves and is considered one of the best urban beaches in Europe. I have been surfing in Carcavelos for more than 30 years. It is where I started and where my three children started.
When we are on the beach and look at the landside, we see this huge green area, which gives a fantastic feeling of fresh air, nature, and freedom. It is a forest that is more than 1 century old and about 52 hectares. Whenever I walk to the beach, even since I was a little girl and before I started surfing, I cross Quinta dos Ingleses, its name, given by locals, as a shortcut, where the St. Julians international school used to be and still is. An area full of centennial trees, which gives us the perception of being in another world, away from the confusion.
This area is often used by locals for walking and sports. It was the refuge of many during the worst time of the COVID, where families came to take a breath to walk around. There are bike paths, spaces for dogs to run, etc., in short, a space that can be maintained and used as an Urban Park, arranged, and cared for.
As it happens, there is a family that owns this land and there was already talk of construction in 1960. Politicians at the time did not agree. The pressure has been a lot over the years because the family wants to value their land. Our Chamber, which does a lot by stealth and pretends to know nothing or can do nothing, seems to have given some green light and that one day soon bulldozers will appear, and construction will begin.
They want to wipe out the last great lung of our coast, they're going to wipe out a centuries-old forest full of biodiversity, the brake on floods and soil erosion, they're going to create enormous pressure on the level of resources, they're going to create a huge threat to the environment. The beach and surf, according to experts, will suffer a lot too, and there may be no more sand and even waves, because of the winds that will be blocked. The traffic that is already chaotic in the morning between Carcavelos and Lisbon, I don't know how it will turn out to be with 850 more apartments on the sea, especially if each family has between two and three cars. The project is megalomaniac. In addition to the 850 apartments in buildings, houses and a shopping center will also be built. Of 52 hectares, only 8 hectares will be a green space, which will include two playing fields.
I cannot understand how in the 21st century, with the 2020-2030 Agenda, Glasgow, and all the facts, these attacks are still allowed in a 1st world country, with supposedly educated and intelligent people. How can we stop them? We have this SOS Association (SOS Quinta dos Ingleses), of which I am a member, which is doing everything to save Carcavelos and a little more from this planetary crisis.
This Session 2, Course 1, could not have come at a better time. When I opened it and saw what our task for the week was, I was super happy to be able to share it with everyone and ask for help.
Please sign the petition https://secure.avaaz.org/community_petitions/en/mr_carlos_carreiras_mayor_of_cascais_and_alves_rib_let_s_save_quinta_dos_ingleses_the_last_green_lung_of_cascais_coast/, pass it on to your friends and acquaintances and help us with ideas, not to let it go. Are there European and International laws that can stop them?
When I heard Wangari´s story, it gave me incredible strength. I want so much to be like her, to have the courage, knowledge, and everything necessary to stop these attacks on our planet.
“The power of people is way stronger then the people in power”
Act locally, think globally – this is the mission!
(Looks like being a democracy is not enough, because money makes people blind! We need to work together and become stronger!!!)