newsletter n.36


1.EXPERIENCES: Lake exSnia in Rome (ex Cisa Snia factory)


3.NEWS ON SOIL AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS: European Parliament Resolution on Land Access!



Lake exSnia in Rome (ex Cisa Snia factory)

In one of our first newsletters, we told the story about the “Wood in the City“: citizens led by the Italia Nostra Association, were able to safeguard an area of 110 ha and transform it into a public park, a short distance away from the centre of Milan. Luckily, this is not a one-off: we have heard of a similar, successful experience in Rome, in the Pigneto Prenestino district, not far from the Metro C station “Malatesta”.

This emblematic experience is related to the transformation of a disused factory, and it shows how several attempts at using up the land for commercial purposes were defeated by the citizens’ growing awareness for the environment. Now a large part of the area has been transformed into a park, the Parco delle Energie, while some abandoned industrial buildings nearby are hosting a community centre, the CSOA exSnia.

This story starts with the opening of the Cisa Snia Viscosa factory in 1923 and its closing in 1955, after about thirty years. In 1968 the pine grove on the hill next to the factory, was declared a historical landmark and in the official Land Plan of Rome the whole area was marked for public use. In 1990, the Snia estate agency sold the land and the new owner was fraudulently granted a building license for a shopping mall. People’s protests against this illicit operation began to grow steadily, when in 1992 an unforeseen event took place. During the digging for the underground car park, the underground water bearing stratum was reached and water flooded the building site: this formed a lake, and the project had to be abandoned (see photo above).

Answering the people’s demands, in 1997 part of the area was expropriated by Rome City Council and it became a park, the Parco delle Energie. Nowadays, out of a total of 14 ha, six are still private property and they include the former industrial sheds, offices, and the gatekeeper’s lodge.  Even though in 2008 these buildings were declared of historical interest as examples of industrial architecture, the area has been periodically threatened by speculation projects, such as the plan to build a swimming pool for the 2008 World Swimming Championship.

In 2008 the Permanent Territorial Forum of the Parco delle Energie started to meet. It consists of representatives of the local Municipal Council, of members of associations, committees and the local community centre, of simple inhabitants who love the Park and want to make up for the public administration’s partial neglect of this area. The Forum meets once a month to organize activities and events in the Park, in the Casa del Parco, and in the Quadrato, an open space for sport, cultural and musical events.

The Forum has also acted to prevent all projects based on land exploitation. The latest, and hopefully the last one, was in 2013: a plan to build four towers in the area of the lake and of the factory buildings. To stop this devastating project, the Forum organized debates, conferences, and marches. The City Council was asked to include the lake in the Parco delle Energie, since strangely enough, that area had been public property for about ten years, without anyone knowing. This important aim was reached in August 2014.

Now the area of the lake is open every day, guided tours and students’ workshops are organized, thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of several Forum members. The Forum has also requested the Regione Lazio to declare the whole area of the ex Snia factory a Natural Monument, so as to preserve its unique historical, architectural, naturalistic features.

A visit to the Parco delle Energie can be very rewarding. Entering from via Prenestina 175, you can see the historical pine grove and visit the Archivio Storico Viscosa, the former factory’s interesting archive in the Casa del Parco, while from via di Portonaccio, you can reach the lake and its astonishing ecological system, just in the middle of one of Rome’s most crowded districts. The Parco delle Energie and its history are a living testimony to how a constant, collective commitment in favour of public green areas, can be the key factor to ensure soil and landscape preservation.

Text by the Forum Territoriale Permanente del Parco delle Energie


Arbitration proceedings against Italy

TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – USA) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – Canada) news followers will be familiar with fierce debates regarding international court of arbitration. With this mechanism, private international companies can request compensation to a State for non-received profits against State decisions that can damage their private investments. In accordance with this instrument, both sides – claimant and respondent – name one lawyer to serve as a judge. Both of these judges then agree on a third judge. The three compose the specific court of arbitration.

The debates highlight many real cases of these arbitrations, affecting other nations and continents. Normally emerging countries are the first to be sued, followed lately by the richer nations such as Germany (fined with EUR 3.7 billion by Vattenfall for phasing out nuclear power) and Canada (fined with EUR 250 million by Lone Pine for limiting fracking). Continua a leggere “Arbitration proceedings against Italy”


Tricycles – an idea for the ECI campaign

The EU people4soil campaign is in full swing. Initiatives to attract people’s attention and gather more signatures are even more creative. France is known for alternative transport ideas, particularly cycling: this summer one of the people4soil organisations, France Nature Environnement will be touring festivals and other local events with fully equipped tricycles. Time and dates are available on their website.

A nice video in French was made to request funding for the tricycles: it also explains the subject of soil and the signature gathering in just 90 seconds.


European Parliament resolution on land access!

Good news: end of April with a large majority, the European Parliament approved a resolution entitled State of play of farmland concentration in the EU: how to facilitate the access to land for farmers. Resolutions are not legally binding: they are policymaking recommendations for Councils, Commission and EU Member States.

The abovementioned resolution (also attached below) indicates specific measures to undertake in order to facilitate land access for new generations of farmers.

We would like to draw your attention to point J of the resolution:

“Whereas land is an increasingly scarce resource, which is non-renewable, and is the basis of the human right to healthy and sufficient food, and of many ecosystem services vital to survival, and should therefore not be treated as an ordinary item of merchandise; whereas land is, furthermore, doubly threatened, on the one hand by the loss of agricultural land through soil sealing, urban development, tourism, infrastructure projects, changes of use and afforestation and the spread of desertification caused by climate change, and, on the other hand, by the concentration of land in the hands of large-scale agricultural undertakings and investors from outside the farming sector; whereas, at the same time, it is the responsibility of the authorities to control and limit the loss of agriculture land through such activities.” Continua a leggere “European Parliament resolution on land access!”


Soil Farmers in the Netherlands

In Newsletter n.34 we mentioned the interviewing by many different filmmakers of several young farmers from various European Union countries.  There are plenty of new videos increasingly reaching the website entitled Farmers in Spotlight. One of these, a documentary entitled Bodemboeren (“soil farmers”, in Dutch) won the “Life Sciences Film Festival” award in Prague, last year.

The 40’ documentary (in Dutch) illustrates sustainable soil management practices by five different farmers. Together with a small film crew, they will take you through the importance of soil, and emphasize – thanks to their attention and perseverance – why they keep insisting on its sustainable management. Together they have created new standards for sustainable soil management and for sustainable food production. The results of their experiments, their practical approach, and what they learned about agriculture and food production are particularly interesting both for farmers and for consumers.

To make eating habits become sustainable it is essential that consumers understand the importance of where our food comes from, and the impact its production has on soil. For this reason, the documentary recommends us to be responsible when making choices. Asa result, under the influence of customer buying activities, the commercial sector will hence be able to suggest to many other farmers the new agricultural and production practices, which are more compatible with sustainable soil conservation.


4 per 1000 Initiative: Survey on expectations, motivations and projects

Constructive dialogue with hundreds of partners is always highly difficult to achieve.

In order to get to know its partners and adapt the initiative to participants’ expectations, the Executive Secretary decided to carry out a survey based on the Scientific and Technical Committee. This questionnaire is to be filled out online, and will be available until 15 June, and the survey until the end of August.

The results of the survey will be analysed in June, but the full summary will be presented at the 4×1000 meeting in Bonn in November (in parallel to COP23). Continua a leggere “4 per 1000 Initiative: Survey on expectations, motivations and projects”