1. EXPERIENCES: Democratic Control





Democratic Control

In Newsletter 59 we wrote about the risks associated with the normalization of deviance. We concluded by saying that only true democratic control will allow us to prevent ever more degrading limits from becoming the norm. We have had a request to clarify what we mean by democratic control, because some might confuse it with “snooping” or even “spying”.

Rather than trying to provide a definition, let’s give a concrete example.

In 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus launched the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, a bank that offered credit to the poorest people. The mechanism, which has been repeated in Europe and in other parts of the world, is based on sharing: credit is offered to an individual, but as a member of a group that takes on responsibility for it. So the way the funds granted are used is followed by all the group’s members. Its success was huge and immediate: those who received the funds knew that if they did not follow the rules, the other members of the group would be penalized.

In Newsletter n. 54  we mentioned the SAFER (Société d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Etablissement Rural) of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in France. This SAFER, finding it was no longer able to intervene in transactions involving agricultural land, created a network of people throughout the area who would give early warning of the sale of land. The aim of this arrangement is to block the sale of land to investors who are not local to the area, avoid speculation and at the same time facilitate purchase by young people who wish to cultivate the land but lack the necessary financial resources. Continua a leggere “Democratic Control”


ELASA – European Landscape Architecture Student Association (Matera)

ELASA is a European organization with more than 2000 members across Europe, all of whom are  students of Landscape Architecture. It meets every year for an Annual Meeting and for a Mini Meeting organized by the ELASA students themselves. 2019’s Mini Meeting was held in Matera from 2 to 8 May to coincide with “Matera 2019 – European Capital of Culture”. 25 young people from many different European states took part, and were thus able to experience an area– Matera and Basilicata – whose origins date back more than 9000 years. A leap into the past in order to return to the present, hence the title of the Mini Meeting: Ascending and Descending Landscapes. Continua a leggere “ELASA – European Landscape Architecture Student Association (Matera)”


Summer School Emilio Sereni XI Ed. – WATER LANDSCAPES

The SIP Forum is supporting the 11th Emilio Sereni Summer School – WATER LANDSCAPES, 27-31 August 2019 which will take place at the Emilio Sereni di Gattatico Library and Archive (Reggio Emilia).

This year’s event, on the theme of Water Landscapes, aims to examine the dynamics of landscape connected with the presence and use of water, regarded as an environmental resource and generator of landscape, especially in rural areas.

The detailed programme for the course, including a description of its nature, characteristics, aims and objectives, can be found on the school website. Given the importance of the subjects dealt with on the course, we invite anyone who is interested to sign up by contacting the school directly.


Organic Cities Network Europe and IFOAM

The conference that launched the network of European cities committed to organic farming, the Organic Cities Network Europe, was held in January 2018 in Paris. Many cities have signed up to this important initiative: Nuremberg and Lauf (Germany), Milan (Italy), Vienna and Seeham (Austria), Paris and Correns (France), Porec (Croatia), Växjö (Sweden) and others.

The Organic Cities Network Europe and IFOAM EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding to give a strong foundation to their collaboration to work together towards a fair, environmentally conscious, healthy and caring food and farming system. The Organic Cities Network Europe and IFOAM EU will cooperate on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), regional and local food supply chains, Green Public Procurement (GPP) policies, research and innovation, the true cost of food, increasing the transparency of supply chains, and access to land for new organic farmers.

To make the European organic movement’s shared ‘Organic Vision for Europe to 2030’ a reality, IFOAM EU published a roadmap to sustainable food and farming systems in Europe  – including a publication and website with inspiring initiatives. The roadmap is accompanied by a website – www.euorganic2030.bio – featuring initiatives leading the way. Continua a leggere “Organic Cities Network Europe and IFOAM”



A conference organized by the Environment DG of the European Commission was held on 5 April 2019 at the EESC (European Economic and Social Committee): Brownfield redevelopment in the EU.

Brownfields are sites that have been affected by the former uses of the site and the surrounding land; are derelict or underused; have real or perceived contamination problems; are mainly in developed urban areas; require intervention to bring them back to beneficial use. In other words, urban or urbanized abandoned areas with pollution problems according to the rules on land reclamation and remediation.

With this conference, the European Commission aimed to promote brownfield redevelopment as a solution to limit urban sprawl, land take and soil sealing. During the day, inspiring policies, challenges and good practices for brownfield redevelopment were presented by European, regional and local stakeholders and the potential offered by EU funds was explored. Continua a leggere “Brownfield”


Is Netherlands moving towards farming that protects biodiversity ?

The Dutch government has adopted a new agricultural strategy based on the protection of natural resources and the reduction of environmental impacts. Their “Vision for the protection of plants by 2030” is based on the selection of innovative plants and the adoption of precision agriculture. The goal is a drastic reduction in pesticide use through the cultivation of more resistant plants and new growing methods. The ultimate aim of the project is to protect nature and biodiversity with healthy plants and with clear economic benefits for farms. All great then? … perhaps.

The Dutch programme does not prohibit the use of pesticides. Rather, it aims to limit their use, by encouraging the plants’ natural ability to defend themselves. It is based therefore on the identification and use of selected plants that are more resistant to diseases and pathogens. The aim is also to have soil that is in good health, naturally more fertile and able to contribute to the plants’ resilience. And so far, so good. Continua a leggere “Is Netherlands moving towards farming that protects biodiversity ?”



Soils are a huge reservoir of carbon, containing almost twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. Preventing soil carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere is essential for climate change mitigation efforts. In addition, agricultural soils have the potential for additional carbon sequestration, particularly soils already degraded.

These are the objectives of 4×1000 Initiative, shared also by many other organisations. One of them is CIRCASA (Coordination of International Research Cooperation on soil CArbon Sequestration in Agriculture) an EU funded research project. It aims to strengthen the coordination and synergies in European and global research on Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) sequestration in agricultural soils. It wants to lead to an improved understanding and scientific basis to target ambitious practices required to preserve and enhance SOC.

22 EU research institutes of several EU Member States participate in the research consortium that started in 2017 with deadline October 2020. Continua a leggere “CIRCASA”