Newsletter n.52

1.EXPERIENCES: Malles – patience or impatience?





Malles – impatience or patience

A municipality in Italy has banned the use of pesticides and insecticides throughout its territory. The municipality is that of Malles Venosta, which is in South Tyrol about 70 km from Bolzano. Although it is in Italy, it is very close to the borders with Austria and Switzerland.

The story is quickly told: it is one of the realization of the risks posed to human, soil, animal and plant health by the indiscriminate use of pesticides and insecticides, especially in the growing of apples for which this region is well known. Thanks to a movement involving almost all the residents of the municipality and its outlying areas, the new mayor and council were able to impose municipal regulations that strictly limit their use based on: i) a ban on the use of the most toxic chemical pesticides (known as T+ and T); ii) pesticides may only be used up to a minimum of 50 metres away from the boundaries of neighbouring properties; iii) organic farming will be supported and encouraged throughout the area covered by the municipality. Continua a leggere “Malles – impatience or patience”


Why is the Forum’s draft law on the soil so important?

Someone asked us this question and we have to admit it gave us pause. Anyone who takes an interest in the soil knows how important it is for life and for human survival. This is not the case for those whose daily concern has to be their own survival. People can see and feel water, vegetation, the air. The soil is to all intents and purposes invisible because it is either physically distant or covered in infrastructure.

Let’s start with an unpleasant fact: Italy is the European leader in soil consumption. Almost 24% of concreted over soil in Europe is in Italy. This unfortunate record raises some  urgent questions: in Italy we are no longer capable of producing the food we need. Moreover, due to the fact that it has been rendered impermeable, the soil is no longer capable of protecting us by absorbing water. The regular floods of recent years have had very high numbers of victims. In Liguria, landslips, landslides and floods have led to a number of deaths comparable to the disaster of 14th August when a motorway bridge in Genoa collapsed. We only worry about the situation of Italian soils when there is a disaster, a drought or a flood. Afterwards silence descends again, leaving responsibility for action to the lowest level of public authority, the municipalities. What is needed, instead, is a national plan, with adequate expertise and finance. And finally, despite all this, for the time being there are no specific laws in Italy setting limits and conditions that have to be obeyed. Continua a leggere “Why is the Forum’s draft law on the soil so important?”


FIEC – Manifesto

The European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) represents 31 national federations of the building industry in 26 European countries plus Turkey. This broad representation means that FIEC is recognized as an official interlocutor by the European Commission and thus as an institutional partner in discussions regarding the construction sector.

Without going into too much detail, we are going to take a look at the “FIEC Manifesto for  Action” (2014-2019). This document sets out 10 action areas in order to support the building sector. The latter is presented as an element of economic growth and job creator, valid for the whole of the EU in a context of long-term sustainability.

Key points

The manifesto sets out to strengthen and reinforce a sector where problems connected with competition (different laws in different countries) and the economic crisis of recent years have left deep wounds.

Some points deal with possible solutions regarding investment, finance, fair competition, prompt payment, reductions in bureaucracy, insurance, …

Others aim to create infrastructure for connections, energy, the needs of urban development.

The document is clear and precise in its claims and that could be a valid starting point for discussion in the event of any meeting. Continua a leggere “FIEC – Manifesto”


Food Strategy 2030

Pre-election periods always see an increase in activity on the part of elected bodies. At the local level we see roads being resurfaced, road signs replaced, more frequent cleaning, the sprucing up of public spaces…

The same is ture, though in different forms, of those who are elected to the European Parliament. From now until May 2019 there will be a crescendo of meetings, debates, conferences, interviews, media appearances, on the subjects that are closest to the hearts of MEPs – and give them the greatest visibility.

The question of the soil has never greatly appealed to parliamentarians, since it is complex and difficult to discuss. This period is an exception, though, because work is underway in the Research & Innovation Directorate-General of the European Commission on developing a Food Strategy for 2030. In this context, the soil is one of the most important topics and – regardless of the timing – is also gaining a lot of media coverage. Continua a leggere “Food Strategy 2030”


Cyprus – naturally crossed plants

Researchers in Cyprus (Cyprus Agricultural Research Institute) want to understand how Europe can produce a bigger biodiversity of crops while improving its yield, quality, resilience and taste. In an experimental field that covers some 11 hectares, more than 20 varieties are grown, including corn.

Cypriot Scientists from a European research project are testing an experimental breeding technology aimed at identifying plants better adapted to Cyprus´ scorching heat and lack of water.

Each corn plant is genetically different. All are given close attention, especially their roots.

The researchers examine both quantitative and quality parameters. Quantitative parameters help establish plant yield and the stability of that yield. They are more difficult to assess, as they are heavily influenced by the environment around. When it comes to quality parameters, the study mainly focus on nutrient content but also on the leaf biomass. The research also includes barley, ancient wheat, chickpeas and cowpeas. Continua a leggere “Cyprus – naturally crossed plants”


4 per 1000 Initiative: the collaborative platform is live

The Collaborative Platform, whose outline was announced at the Initiative’s General Meeting in Bonn last November, is now live. Open only to registered members, its purpose is to launch, develop and discuss particular subjects and projects. Available in three languages, it allows members to interact regardless of their location or the topic being discussed.

The Platform can be accessed via this link: https://hub.4p1000.org/, using a password. On first access members are required to give personal details and select subjects of interest from among about a dozen different categories. Members can, however, access all the working groups that form as time goes by, while limiting their engagement to the discussions and projects that interest them. The various groups offer different opportunities to work together. They function mainly as Forums for discussion, as places where documentation can be deposited for reference, as a collaborative space for articles or accounts of different experiences and for sharing events, initiatives, and information relevant to the group’s subject matter.

Naturally this is an on-going operation which will develop in the ways dictated by the participation and use that participants want to make of it. At the start it will be slow because of the novelty of the tool and the distances between members who, it must be remembered, have different cultures and ways of participating and discussing. In this early phase above all, the role of moderator should be given to someone who is already accustomed to using these distance methods of discussion.


Bollettino n. 52


1.ESPERIENZE: Malles – impazienza o pazienza?