Urban Alternatives is launched by a collaboration of different actors which are united in their efforts to create a more democratic, just and sustainable world. This map seeks to highlight initiatives that work towards this goal. Proposal for initiatives not listed yet can be made directly on the website. This process is open to new collaborations.



Citizen Participation Mechanism

What challenges did this initiative look to address?

In 2011, in the middle of the so-called financial crisis, many of Lisbon’s neighbourhoods were characterised by a concentration of deficiencies such as a weakened social fabric, degraded houses, lack of infrastructure and of access to public transport. The idea of BIP-ZIP was to not only to intervene in these areas, but to allow for non-bureaucratic direct participation of citizens to contribute to the improvement of housing and community conditions in their neighbourhoods.

What has changed?

The objective of this program is to promote projects designed for and by local communities, supplying their needs at different levels and putting local forces and the community in a position to do so, with direct consequences in terms of employability, training, in the fields of health, education, the elderly, unemployed youth, or vulnerable groups. This objective has been successfully met in the eight years of existence. A network of partnerships has spread throughout the city and BIP-ZIP is already one of the most emblematic projects of the municipality and its local development strategy is attracting the attention of numerous international observers. In addition to the various brands it has already launched, the BIP-ZIP program has also been a factor in creating jobs and in the capacity of professional integration of the people involved, in addition to always aim to the sustainability of the projects as a way to keep alive the energy released on the ground every time a new partnership is built. One of the relevant successes of the program has been the strengthening of a sense of belonging of the residents to their neighbourhoods.

How did it happen?

The citizen movement Cidadãos por Lisboa (Citizens for Lisbon) was elected into the Lisbon town hall in 2007. It was they who introduced the program BIP-ZIP in 2011 in the scope of the Local Housing Programme (PLH). The PLH working group sought to define a concept and methodology for the identification of "Neighbourhoods and Areas of Priority Intervention", considering three large variables: the socio-economic variable, the urban variable and the environmental variable. That way, they identified nearly 70 BIPs-ZIPs.

BIP-ZIP is a participatory budgeting program and thus an instrument of municipal public policy that aims to stimulate partnerships and small local interventions and to improve the covered "habitats" by supporting projects carried out by parish councils, local associations, collectives and non-governmental organizations, contributing to the strengthening of socio-territorial cohesion in the municipality. Projects are funded up to 50,000€ per year and can re-apply over several funding periods.

The municipal investment ranges between € 1M and 2M per year. From 2011 to 2018 an overall budget of 9.4 M € was granted, to which were added funds or services directly raised by the partnerships themselves, worth 2.9 M €. In all, the 67 identified BIP / ZIP territories throughout the city were already covered with submitted projects, directly involving more than 150,000 residents which corresponds to 1/5 of the population of Lisbon.