Former Star of the World Woke up – a Success Story: Portugal

Former Star of the World Woke up – a Success Story: Portugal

Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and they have the westernmost point of continental Europe. They have an abundance of both history and geography as well. Even though the country has been struggling with wildfires due to climate change, they are pioneers of responsible production and consumption. They realized its importance after the crisis of 2008 when thousands of people became unemployed, and the problem is still present in the country. However, they started to make a lot of promising efforts, which qualified them as a success story. They are prone to climate change and the constraints of their economy with a high unemployment rate, especially among the youth. Moreover, they are also lacking the necessary workforce, even though there are thousands of immigrants from their former colonies. Many people leave for France and the Benelux for a better salary and a better life. Still, their efforts are really promising, such as banning disposable light bulbs and giving a lot of discounts on energy-saving fluorescent ones instead. They provide excellent light and consume a lot less than their old equivalents. Therefore, electricity bills became a lot less. Besides that, in many public buildings, they installed water-saving faucets, which consume just as much water as required. What does it mean? Water expenses became lower and lower. There is no need to manipulate people with “cutting down on utility costs”. This is where it would have been better to have given discounts on electric cookers and ovens, which is what Portugal did. They did it the right way, to give discounts on energy-saving utensils and make thousands of efforts to promote recycling. Because of this, Portugal recovered a lot after the crisis, they are in a much better economic situation than Greece or Spain. They are former economic superpowers but failed due to their extravagance.

Why is Portugal a former economic superpower? They have a long history of being a trading hub on the Atlantic Ocean. They still have important commercial ports with direct access to the ocean, namely Lisbon and Porto. This area was inhabited by the Romans, they formed the province called Lusitania. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Germanic tribes (Suebis and Visigoths) invaded the area, and later on, the Moors invaded and remained there for around 4 centuries, until the Reconquista. The Moors (Arabs) left tons of architectural beauties on the Iberian Peninsula and therefore, Portugal. If you have ever been to Lisbon or Sintra, you can see several of them, for example, the Alfama castle. The Christians conquered the country in the 12th century and the kingdom began. The kingdom’s period lasted until 1910 when the monarchy was abolished and a republic was proclaimed. Then a relatively unstable period began because, within 15 years, the country had 45 governments and many coup d’états. This started an infamous dictatorship called Estado Novo (New State) in 1932 and it was even claimed as a fascist one. This was led by António de Oliveira Salazar. His era ended in 1968 when he suffered a serious brain injury at home, so he had to be removed from power. In 1974, a bloodless coup ended the dictatorship (Carnation Revolution), when soldiers with carnations in their guns came into power. That is why this flower symbolizes socialism. Twelve years later, the country joined the EEC, later known as the European Union and introduced the euro in 1999. Let’s take a closer look at their way of becoming a superpower!

As we all know, Portugal was very ambitious and wanted to open itself to the world. Many people thought that the Earth was flat, as they saw the ocean at the end of the continent. Pillars of Hercules signified the end of the world in Greek mythology. Nowadays, it is called Gibraltar and it belongs to the UK. However, some ancient Greek scientists doubted whether the Earth was flat when they observed the disappearing ships, and they saw that ships did not disappear all at once. They thought the Earth was round because the ships disappeared step by step. Eratosthenes claimed first that Earth is (approximately) a sphere. However, his works did not remain in full. Turning back to Portugal, they had good connections to Morocco, being its most significant trading partner at that time. Being an offshore trading partner, naval science appeared in Portugal in the first half of the 14th century. They possibly started an expedition in 1336 towards the Canary Islands. Schools were founded in Portugal to educate explorers, the most significant being by Prince Henry the Navigator. The column in Belém, just outside Lisbon commemorates his explorers. They built new ships, the most significant being the Caravel. In 1412, the Prince ordered expansions towards Africa and the Canary Islands. These were successful because they reached Madeira seven years later and started to colonize it. Their ambitions led to further successes: they mapped the African coast. They expanded further westwards when they reached the Azores a few years later and started to colonize it around 1430. In 1436, they arrived in Western Sahara and discovered Rio de Ouro, later on, they arrived in now-modern-day Senegal. During this time, they actively traded with African slaves, like other European powers. In 1456, their boats (led by Alvise Cadamusto, originally Venetian) arrived at Cabo Verde, an archipelago which was uninhabited at that time, and Portugal took slaves there to inhabit it. In 1460, Henry the Navigator died but his results were outstanding: his boats had reached the Sargasso Sea, which is very close to North America. 1471 brought a new milestone for them as they crossed the Equator, led by João de Santarém and Pedro Escobar. The following year, they got very close to North America again: Joao Vaz Corte-Real and Álvaro Martins Homem approached Newfoundland, and they found new opportunities to fish, as they named it Terra Nova do Bacalhau or Land of Cod. Diogo Cao approached Congo in 1482 and two years later, he arrived at Walvis Bay, Namibia. 1488: another milestone, as Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. At this time, South Atlantic voyages were made to map the winds. Bartolomeu proved Ptolemy’s theory about the Flat Mountain in South Africa. As we all know, there is an important city located at the southern tip of Africa, namely Cape Town. In the year of America’s discovery by Columbus, they reached the Indian Ocean. In 1494, Portugal signed the Treaty of Tordesillas to share newly discovered lands with Spain; they got the eastern part of the line west of the Azores. This treaty was reauthorized in 1525, in Zaragoza. In 1498, another milestone was passed when Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut (now Kozhikode) in India. His achievements are sung in Luis de Camoes’ famous book titled, Lusíadas. Two years later, Pedro Álvares Cabral reached the coast of South America where there were plenty of brazil woods (in Latin, its name is Paubrasilia echinata). Therefore, the country was called Brazil. Later on, they started to rent Macau in Southern China, and this city belonged to them until 1999. These discoveries were unique because they added value to our mutually known world at the time. What can we see on the flag of Portugal? Yes, an armillary sphere, resembling the Earth. After all, they reached further than their neighbours. Therefore, their cuisine is probably one of the most interesting ones in Europe.

Unfortunately, the golden age ended very early, because Portugal did not invest much in its economy, they only facilitated trade. Therefore they fell into a recession after the 18th century and could only keep some of their colonies. The 20th century of Portugal was very eventful, as they had political instability. After a serious crisis in 2008, they had to find a way to get back on track. They could, they scrutinised themselves to discover what went wrong. The main reason was the irresponsible consumption of energy, and therefore the irresponsible expansion of benefits. They repealed a lot of their social benefits, and they said: if we do not have any fossil energy source, let’s take advantage of what everyone else has. On the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, the wind provides enough reasons to build wind power stations. Besides that, the interior of the country receives enough sunshine to construct a large solar farm; for some time, they owned the largest one in the world! What does it mean? If you want and are dedicated to a target, you will be able to reach it. They turned towards renewable energy. In the first half of 2010, 70% of all produced energy was renewable. In the north, they started to experiment with wave power, near Póvoa de Varzim. They installed a plant in 2008, but they shut it down and dismantled it very quickly because it turned out to be very expensive. Therefore, electricity became exportable and very affordable. Besides that, they invested heavily into combining renewable energy: a wind-powered turbine pumps water uphill at night and in the daytime lets water downhill to generate electricity. Furthermore, the population is encouraged to install rooftop solar cells to distribute their electricity. Therefore, they only use what they are required to use and do not produce waste energy. What is more, they also made water-saving taps extremely cheap. Dripping taps consume a lot of water. Because of this, many buildings use infra-taps to cut down on using water. This means Portugal could recuperate more or less from the crisis and became a promising success story for everyone suffering the effects of a recession. If you want to become successful, you can. All they need is ambition. They are historically ambitious, so they will be able to get back to being among the stars. Their star gained new light. They just have to keep it that way. However, they still have many problems to cope with, and one is very serious: corruption. They have to make tons of further efforts to reduce it and tell politicians: it is never a good idea to buy people.

– Gergely Lázár

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Is it Possible to Counter Consumption Madness?

Is it Possible to Counter Consumption Madness?

20-30-40 percent discounts, different payment options, buy one get one free and so on.

Do you honestly need to consume more, or indulge in activities that merely capture your gaze?

Christmas Day, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and national and religious holidays had a spiritual meaning long ago, but not material. Over time, people fell in love with materialism. It does not matter whether you need one or not, if people nearby you buy new phones, you somehow feel compelled to upgrade yours, too. If your friend has 8GBs of RAM, you want to have twice as much. If your relatives refurbish their home, you need to do so also—with even more impressive chattels.

Capitalism and mass media conceived this narrative. They capitalise on the urge to consume in people, creating a feeling that if you don’t buy things that you don’t need, you cannot be happy. As though, if you don’t continue to upgrade your gadgets, you cannot get anywhere in society without doing so.

You don’t spend the effort to do anything by yourself. Producers are here to do that for you. All you need to do is go to a mall and let the time pass in glitzy shops and gaze at products to make yourself happy.

Through eras, humanity changes its ways gradually. We were hunter-gatherers, farmers, and then industrial workers during our history. But, what about now? How should we label ourselves? Any ideas?

Drafted by Oguz Yilmazlar

Education of SDG Goals in the School System

Let’s face it, the dissemination of knowledge regarding SDGs is not yet in educational programs nationally (here in Vietnam) or internationally. Right now, we are far from ensuring “that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.”

Even though the UN has created the framework to include this ambitious goal, aptly named “Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives,” into its agenda(1), we are still not seeing SDGs promoted to those in need. Additionally, Microsoft has developed a tool, which provides courses & materials for online users about SDGs(2). This course can be translated by Bing into many languages and ought to help in enriching international understanding. However, it has not yet been streamlined to the national level.

By sharing the above two useful materials, we can bring the world closer to achieving its SDG goals. Together, we can be one step closer to successfully meeting the aims of the 2030 Agenda.

Drafted by Colina Tran



The Leave No Trace Principle

Festivals are events that have become an important part of human activities. Though they have a heavy impact on the environment, new trends have led to the creation of the “Leave No Trace” principle. It is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors, based on seven tenets(1):

• plan ahead and prepare

• travel and camp on durable surfaces

• dispose of waste properly

• leave what you find

• minimise campfire impacts

• respect wildlife

• be considerate to other visitors

An example of a festival inspired by “Leave No Trace” is Burning Man, an annual gathering in Black Rock City(2). The event rigorously encourages participants to keep areas clean by not contaminating the area with litter or by limiting the amount of residual trash at the site. For example, burning events must take place on the designated platform, greywater is not to be dumped on the playa (dry lake), and used shower water must be captured and either evaporated or collected and carried home.

Next time we attend festivals, perhaps we can all consider “leaving no trace.” How do you reduce your impact on the environment?

Written by Colina Tran. Produced by the AAI Content Team (



Short Term Pain for Long Term Gain: Earth Overshoot Day

When we are young, we tend to commit many financial errors, one of them might be using too much of our wealth that we should be putting aside for the future. By and large, collectively acting as individuals, we are like that; we use the ‘environmental credits’ of our progeny prematurely. How do we know that?

There is a date every year when the world’s resource bank goes into overdraft. This year, 2017, the date falls on 2 August, one day earlier than 2016. That means we are consuming more of our precious resources of water, land and fresh air than ever before. We have already passed the point of which some natural resources — think trees, fish and water — humanity takes from the Earth reaches the total that can be regenerated over the entire year. It’s when the amount of carbon emitted reaches the amount the forests and oceans are able to absorb. (1)

Think before you take out a loan you are unable to repay carefully; think twice before wasting any of our planet’s precious resources. How do you reduce your carbon footprint?

Written by Colina Tran

(1) /

In this Era of Communication, We’ve Forgotten How to Communicate Face-to-Face

Chatting with another person in a different country is very simple with the Internet. All it takes is a few clicks to hear a loved one’s voice and find out what he or she is doing. Finding out what someone ate or wore today is easy, and it’s amazing that we can keep up with friends that are thousands of kilometres away. New technology has made the world smaller, and it certainly makes things easier for us on a daily basis.

The downside is our reliance on it. Whenever I go out, people seem buried in their phones. Using them for business is something I can understand, but I suspect most people are just checking their social media accounts and counting “likes.” When I go to a cafe with friends, I notice other people sitting with friends, but their heads are looking down at their phones. No talking, no smiling to each other. Once, I even had to leave a group of friends because they were much too “busy” with phones instead of speaking with each other.

Actually, that’s why I still use an old phone. Whenever I need the Internet, I use it at home. I don’t want technology controlling my life. When I need it, I find it. Why spend your days in front of a 5-inch screen instead of in the company of the sun and flowers?

Of course, I’m not against technology, but maybe it should be engaged with more thoughtfully? Thoughts?

Written by Oguz Yilmazlar

Case Study: How One Person Can Inspire World Change

Never underestimate the power of a passionate individual..png

Selina Juul, aka the Food Waste Fighter, is a woman that has a strong desire to effect change. When she first came to the lush and bountiful country of Denmark, she was overwhelmed by the amount of food you could find in the supermarkets. However, the downside of this was the immeasurable food waste you could see everywhere. In starting her journey for change, Selina helped lead Denmark to become of the most efficient countries for food waste in the world. Her initiatives led to a complete shift in mentality within the Danish population. How exactly did she do it? Check out her story below!

Never underestimate the power of a passionate individual. What are you passionate about? Maybe we can start the change together.

Written by Petra Cvetanovic.

How to Feed the World in 2050?

Today, on a planet that grows sufficient food for all, a billion people go hungry.

Another billion over consume, increasing risks of chronic disease.

One-third of all food harvested is lost or wasted, with food waste in industrialised countries almost as high as total net food production in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This video was released 4 years ago. Today, it has about 71,000 views and 64 comments.

Where do you stand?

Written by Petra Cvetanovic