OBSERVA was founded in 1996 by the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE) and the Institute of Social Sciences (ICS) of the University of Lisbon, that kept it as a joint program until 2009. Since 2010, it is a permanent research program integrated in the Research Group “Environment, Territory and Society” of ICS-ULisboa.
The launching of the observatory was supported by the Portuguese Institute for Environmental Promotion (IPAMB) through a protocol that lasted until 1999 and allowed for funding from the II Community Support Framework of the European Union. Between 2002 and 2004, the observatory was supported by a protocol with the Portuguese Institute of the Environment (IA).
Two landmarks of the activity of OBSERVA during this period were the national surveys on environment and society – The Portuguese and the Environment (1999 and 2004). Besides these surveys, OBSERVA has promoted, for over a decade, a number of projects and publications, together with initiatives for public awareness of environmental issues.
OBSERVA currently develops outreach activities of the Research Group for Environment, Territory and Society on the following areas:
- Values, attitudes and behaviors
- Citizenship, participation and conflicts.
- Environment and quality of life in cities.
- Spatial planning
- Public policies and social impacts of environmental, territorial and sustainable development issues
- Social indicators for environment and sustainability
- Mediatization of environmental and energy issues
- Environmental and sustainable development education
- Climate action and social-ecological transition
- Consumption, energy and food
- Housing and urban futures
- History of environmental and territorial dynamics