Newsletter n.41

World Soil Day

If you understand Italian and you are in Brussels next 5 December at 19.00 – 21.30

attend the event “Il suolo è vita!” (Soil is Life!)

at the Italian Culture Institute – Rue de Livourne 38 – Brussels


1.EXPERIENCES: Special issue on soil by the National Rural Network





Special issue on soil by the National Rural Network

The National Rural Network programme is a tool for development projects of the European Union for the rural world. In Italy it is cofounded by the European Commission, via its European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Policies. The national rural network (Rete Rurale Nazionale – RRN in Italian) is present in every Italian region. Its work also involves publishing a magazine that, from 1 September, has a new name and typeset: it is no longer Pianeta PSR (in English: Planet PSR) but RRN Magazine. Published on a quarterly basis, its topics are related to rural development policies.

We are drawing your attention to it because the first number of this new edition is entirely devoted to soil. It analyses many different aspects and different viewpoints, international perspectives, saline soils, etc. It does not aim to point out solutions from an academic point of view: it pragmatically shows reflections and potential aspects to be developed further. It is a tool which deals with issues related to soil and rural development: the magazine is around 60 pages long.

This can be downloaded for free from the link to be found at the bottom of the RRN website .


SIP Forum: The Greens at the European Parliament – a conference

The Greens EFA held a session entitled ‘How to really feed the world? Fighting hunger at the root’ at the European Parliament on 18 October. The session was twofold and held 150 participants (farmers, agronomists, students, journalists and MEPs). In the morning, there were talks on the use of pesticides; the afternoon session aimed at reviewing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

More concretely, the morning session dealt with the following issues: the effects of pesticides on the right to food; the Stop Glyphosate! Campaign; data and information manipulation from chemical multinationals. Initiatives and proposals were presented by associations fighting for the elimination of glyphosate, indicating alternative methods of use (a Pesticides Action Network report) together with instructions and recommendations by several farmers, which were shown in the following video.

The SIP Forum was also invited to attend the morning session of the conference. Its representative had the opportunity to “give soil a voice’ underlining:

1) Time: a fundamental parameter to take into account is time. In order to grow in a natural manner soil needs between 100 and 200years, to increase by only 1cm;

2) Soil means life: it breathes, pulses, and it is full of bacteria, large and small-scale animals, insects, plant species, vacuum[1]

3) Ways to combat weeds should be decided by taking into account soil and the wildlife inhabiting it, not just by getting rid of weeds.

4) Some methods are particularly dangerous for soil (hot water, electricity, vapour, fire…)

5) The transition time should be respected: we cannot say to farmers that after eliminating pesticides in only a couple of months everything will be good and they will grow pure organic products. The soil must be cleansed beforehand, and after we must allow it to restore its fertility.

The Forum SIP PowerPoint presentation is available upon request, the entire event was recorded, and the online streaming is available.

[1] Technical word indicating the micro spaces inside the soil containing air. Their dislocation, direction and composition are studied to understand the soil conditions.


People4Soil: From irony to ridicule…

No EU Member States have strong national legislation, which aims at protecting soil. Without a common European “umbrella”, meaning a directive with specific limits and obligations, each Member State is led to pass “partial” laws which are not enough, and at times even penalize soil. A common European framework was the main aim of the people4soil ECI.

After not reaching the quorum, we were expecting an analysis on behalf of the organizing committee as to why the signature gathering had failed.

It seems that the failure was in actual fact a “joy” in Italy.

Without consulting individual signatories, the Italian signatures were presented to the President of the Italian Senate asking to continue the debate on the soil consumption law, which has been ongoing for some time.

We do not believe that Italian signatories were aware that they were signing something currently being debated at the Italian Parliament. Nor that the Italian law proposal is being debated so much.

The email from the Italian people4soil informing signatories of their encounter with the Senate begins with a ‘Thank you’ which sounds no longer ironic (intending ‘we did not reach a quorum’) but mainly ridiculous (‘we are doing what we want with your signatures’).



The Estonian Presidency at the EU has been making efforts in drawing people’s attention to soil and its use as a component in European life and politics.

On 28 September, it launched a debate on soil with an interesting document which casts light to the problem with the following title: ‘Three square kilometres soil destroyed every day in Europe .

On 4-6 October, a High Level Conference as part of the EU Council Presidency entitled ‘Soil for sustainable food production and ecosystem services’ took place in Tallinn.

The main conclusions of the conference focused on 4 main themes:

  • Policy measures: the need for a strategy at EU level to indicate priorities and measures each EU Member State must implement;
  • Climate Change: the Paris Agreements did not recognize the role of soil in carbon accumulation – even though the 4 per 1000 Initiative was mentioned – therefore specific actions are demanded in and by all Member States, which must however take national and regional differences into consideration;
  • Soil data: it is important to increase the use of soil data in the entire EU, and at the same time harmonize soil measures in order to have a limited number of indicators denoting changes in soil quality, especially for farmers;
  • Communication and awareness raising: each Member State must encourage and create more awareness on the importance of soil for life among the entire European population.

These conclusions point to a specific direction to be followed. However they are not binding and are purely based on the good will of EU Member States.

Will the following presidencies act on what was said in Tallinn?


Other European State Experiences: Bialowieza forest in Poland

We often hear of individuals and associations standing up to large multinationals. Not only do the latter despise life protection, they also attack activists or associations by fining them or claiming extortionately high compensation. There are many reasons why private companies do this, the primary one being to “scare”, and buy time making their counterparts be constantly under pressure. And when – despite everything – their counterparts do happen to win the battle, they are then made weaker and isolated.

This is currently happening in Poland. The Białowieża forest is in the East and holds a highly rich and unique biodiversity. It is considered to be the last primary forest of Europe, hence the presence of national and European laws “protecting” it. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site. The current Polish government is destroying this protection. Backed up by the excuse of defeating the level of wood-boring insects in the first, the government has ordered to cut down over 50 000 trees, many of which are over a century old. On a summon by the European Commission (EC), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ordered the Polish government to cease the action, however authorities have ignored all appeals made by researchers, academics, NGOs, UNESCO, protesters and now the ECJ too.

Militants are currently patrolling around to protect the forest, using non-violent means, and collecting all proof of damage. These people must endure any form of oppression including threats, reports, and physical violence. A solidarity committee was created to stop them from being completely isolated: it needs signatures and messages of encouragement from all over Europe. Anyone interested can do so via WeMoveEU site.

Do not think this kind of support is “useless”. Try and remember the appeal, the time when several environmental groups were taken to Court by the Canadian company Produits Forestiers Résolu. They asked for 300 million dollars due to a loss of earnings caused by fines for their unsustainable practices in the Canadian Boreal Forest. Any civil society action is clearly being shut down. On 16 October the Federal Court of California rejected the company’s claim. The judges’ message is clear: the Canadian company must abandon the case and respect population rights, which would guarantee the survival of endangered species.

Those who supported civil society in Canada – even with a mere signature – can feel glad, but must not drop their guard! The ways multinational companies are overthrowing those protecting the environment are neverending.

It is important to know we are not alone, and it is even more important to say this to volunteers who are fighting for the Białowieża Forest.


4 per 1000 initiative: Bonn meeting: programme details

The meeting in Bonn is the third one taking place after Paris (2015) and Marrakech (2016). This year it will take place in the town hall of Bad Godesberg, in the outskirts of Bonn. In the morning there will be presentations of the work achieved up to this point, and the official report of the Scientific and Technical Committee will be presented. The latter is also expected to hold meetings on 14 and 15 November.

On 16 November the afternoon meeting is only for members of the 4per1000 Consortium.

HERE the conference programme.

As expected the SIP Forum will take part in the meeting.


Bollettino n. 41

Del 1/11/2017

1.ESPERIENZE: Numero monografico sul suolo della Rete Rurale Nazionale (RRN)