‘We must revise the way we extract, produce and consume’: Expo hears Portugal’s Secretary of State for the Environment

Portugal’s Secretary of State for the Environment, Inês dos Santos Costa, was at Expo this week to share her insights on how we can leverage technology and innovation to achieve global sustainability goals.


Inês dos Santos Costa joined a panel for the World Majlis “Earth 2.0: Reengineering Planet Earth” this Thursday, October 7, as part of Climate & Biodiversity Week at Expo 2020 Dubai.


The event brought together key experts to discuss the role of technology and engineering in a warming world, the risks associated with such efforts, and how to balance the interests of different stakeholders. Among those invited were Mohamed Nasheed, former President of the Maldives; Abdulla Al Mandous, Director General of the UAE National Centre of Meteorology; Nawal Al Hosany, Representative of the UAE to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); Joaquin Ruiz, Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona; and Paolo Gali, Founder and Director of the Marine Research and High Education Center (MaRHE).


The Portuguese Secretary of State said that in order to achieve the goals set for 2030 and 2050, we need to “revise the way we extract, produce and consume […] We are looking at technology as some sort of savior, without really changing the status quo in terms of how we conduct and develop policy.


“We need to find a different meaning for the word ‘growth’. We want it to be in health, in wellbeing, in regeneration, in education […] so we need to shift how we see economic development with new objectives, and that should be present when we think about new technologies”, she added.


Inês dos Santos Costa also highlighted Portugal’s progress in terms of renewable energy and electricity generation, saying the country has been “on the right track”. She shared with panellists the key to Portugal’s success: “Decarbonization coupled with territory valorization and a circular economy – all the policies and plans we develop at the Ministry of Environment are checked against these three systemic views and they all have to be positively contributing to those objectives”.


Portugal was the first country in the world to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050, and since then has been on the frontlines of decarbonization. So far this year, over 60 per cent of national electricity consumption came from renewable energy sources, according to recent data from REN – Redes Energéticas Nacionais.


Also this week, Inês dos Santos Costa made an appearance on CNN International’s flagship program in the Middle East – Connect the World – where she spoke with British journalist Becky Anderson about Portugal’s climate plan and her expectations for the COP 26 conference in Glasgow, which will take place later this month.