Newsltter n.91


1. TIME TO GET ANGRY!: Social farming in Italy: an innovative and inclusive opportunity for marginal, abandoned and confiscated land

B. NEWS FROM THE SIP FORUM: Call for minister Cingolani to resign 

3. NEWS ON THE SOIL AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS:  Soil monitoring in Europe. Indicators and thresholds for assessing soil quality  



Social farming in Italy: an innovative and inclusive opportunity for marginal, abandoned and confiscated land.

In Italy the development of social farming – the term refers to a dynamic and developing sector based on agricultural and social aims – is still an ongoing process. Originating in the early 1970s, today social farming can be considered as a rural development innovation that is well established in all Italian regions and with a national regulatory framework.

National Law 141/2015 describes social farming as “an aspect of the multifunctionality of agricultural enterprises, aimed at the development of social services and socio-sanitary, educational and socio-occupational placement interventions, in order to facilitate simple and proper access to basic services granted to people, families and local communities across the national territory, particularly in rural or disadvantaged areas”.

Within the supporting measures, Law 141 attributed added value to social farming for the use of public land and that confiscated from the mafia. These supporting measures stem from the numerous experiences developed over the last 20 years in marginal and inland areas of our country or established on land confiscated from various mafias.

Continua a leggere “Social farming in Italy: an innovative and inclusive opportunity for marginal, abandoned and confiscated land.”

Call for minister Cingolani to resign 

All 68 members of the Gruppo Suolo Europa have joined the call for the current Minister for Ecological Transition to resign. The Minister, whose expertise lies in robotics and AI, has shown himself to lack the essential awareness and understanding of the environmental brief he holds. The petition is currently two thirds of the way to gathering almost the target of 5500 signatures.



Is the GSE really necessary?

As already announced, the Gruppo Suolo Europa (GSE) will hold its annual meeting online on 18 February between 20:00 and 23:00. The meeting will be held in Italian. The focus of the discussion will be: Is the continued existence of this SIP Forum working group necessary? All those who signed up by 25th January and have received the relevant documentation will be eligible to take part.

The observations that have emerged so far raise questions about the validity of any future action by the GSE. It is questionable whether the GSE responds to the needs of the younger generation. Those who have taken part so far in the GSE’s activities will be able to continue doing so in other ways and using different methods, while a new way of communicating is needed to reach the parts that have so far eluded us: for example, groups on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, TikTok, Telegram – perhaps in English – are more likely to engage young people than this Newsletter.

This is why we need people to take on responsibility for the GSE and take up the challenge of drawing up the European law on the soil, which will be the focus of fierce debate among the various lobbies involved. In addition, this subject needs to be dealt with by the SIP Forum as a whole, rather than by a delegated body.

Those who have run the GSE so far must be capable of taking a step back, and leaving space for younger people while still making themselves available when requested.

“New things are done only by the young because they are willing to cooperate enthusiastically and without egoism (La macchina Zero – Ciaj Rocchi, Matteo Demonte)


A short guide to combating eco-anxiety

Eco-anxiety (also known as climate anxiety) is a persistent sense of dread about experienced or anticipated ecological losses that affects daily life.

More and more often young activists suffer from it, which is why Extinction Rebellion XR has drawn up a short guide that we believe will interest all those who fight for an inclusive society that respects the environment.

“Whatever your lived experience of eco-anxiety, it’s important that you find ways to share your feelings in a safe setting so you can manage them day-to-day.  …

1) Get Involved: Activism is a wonderful way to feel empowered and meet like-minded people. …

2) Express Yourself: Discussing your eco-anxiety with an empathetic listener or group can help you understand what you are feeling and what you can do about it. …

3) Find Balance: While activism can be hugely empowering, it can also require huge emotional resilience to avoid burnout. …

4) Remember You’re Not Alone: There are so many people full of love, rage, and guilt about the state of the world and struggling to come to terms with it. …

5) Don’t Give Up: Trying to stop global heating or extractivism is not a battle that can be won or lost. Each day is an opportunity to heal the devastation that’s already happened, and reduce the devastation of the future. The challenge is huge, and we must always put our own wellbeing first, but giving up will never make sense, whatever the weather.”


Geopolitics of the European Green Deal

The European Green Deal has implications that go well beyond the territorial limits of the EU, which is why we speak of the geopolitical implications of the EGD. Two interesting analyses of this topic appeared in 2021.

The first, which appeared in February under the auspices of the Bruegel Institute, and authored by Mark Leonard, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Jeremy Shapiro, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram Wolff, suggested 7 actions:

“1. Help neighbouring oil and gas-exporting countries manage the repercussions of the European Green Deal. The EU should engage with these countries to foster their economic diversification, including into renewable energy and green hydrogen that could in the future be exported to Europe.

2. Improve the security of critical raw materials supply and limit dependence, first and foremost on China. Essential measures include greater supply diversification, increased recycling volumes and substitution of critical materials.

3. Work with the US and other partners to establish a ‘climate club’ whose members will apply similar carbon border adjustment measures. All countries, including China, would be welcome to join if they commit to abide by the club’s objectives and rules.

4. Become a global standard-setter for the energy transition, particularly in hydrogen and green bonds. Requiring compliance with strict environmental regulations as a condition to access the EU market will be strong encouragement to go green for all countries.

5. Internationalise the European Green Deal by mobilising the EU budget, the EU Recovery and Resilience Fund, and EU development policy.

6. Promote global coalitions for climate change mitigation, for example through a global coalition for the permafrost, which would fund measures to contain the permafrost thaw.

7. Promote a global platform on the new economics of climate action to share lessons learned and best practices.”

The second analysis, perhaps inspired by the first, was organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 6 December. The EESC held this conference to discuss the impact of the European Green Deal (EGD) on the position of Europe in the world. Four panels discussed how the EU can lead climate efforts, how to ensure the green energy transition and head towards open strategic autonomy, how to make sure that no one is left behind and how to maintain the EU industry’s global competitiveness and direct financing to support the green transition.

Continua a leggere “Geopolitics of the European Green Deal”

Soil: Comparing perspectives from scientists and stakeholders

Some readers have let us know that at the end of August 2021, the European Journal of Soil Science published an interesting article with the title “Contributions and future priorities for soil science: Comparing perspectives from scientists and stakeholders“.

Intensifying demand and increasing soil degradation demand focused research into the sustainable use of soils. Soil scientists need to actively engage with industries, businesses and municipalities to orientate research goals towards stakeholder needs. Thus stakeholder views need to be taken into account when setting the future research agenda.

This summary is the result of a study, via a questionnaire distributed to 192 organisations, to assess whether the current and future soil research priorities match the needs of four major industrial and environmental sectors: agriculture, ecosystem services and natural resources, waste management, and water management. Respondents identified numerous areas that soil research has not yet sufficiently addressed, and stakeholders’ and scientists’ views of future research priorities differed strongly within sectors, with the notable exception of agriculture.

The main conclusion of the article is that there is a need for improved research communication and greater stakeholder involvement to shape the future soils research agenda and ensure the sustainable use of soils across multiple areas of society.


Soil monitoring in Europe. Indicators and thresholds for assessing soil quality

Apart from specialists, people don’t bother much about the soil. And yet everyone understands intuitively that there are different soils with their own characteristics and that therefore every type of soil has different qualities and possibilities. The 2021 ETC/ULS Report with the title “Soil monitoring in Europe. Indicators and thresholds for soil quality assessments” deals with precisely these differences, with the aim of setting out the limits of soil quality. The acronym ETC/ULS stands for European Topic Centre on Urban Land and Soil Systems and is part of EIONET (the European Environment Information and Observation Network) which is part of the European Environment Agency (EEA).

We promise not to use any more acronyms!

“The development of adequate and broadly applicable indicators and thresholds is challenged by the great diversity of European soils and climate, as well as different political, economic, and social conditions which lead to different priority settings for targets and indicators. There are 23 main soil types, four prevailing macroclimatic zones, and eight recognised soil threats, which all together form a complex matrix of basic different environmental growing conditions, whereas each of them requires specific responses to optimize and sustainably use the available resources.

This report describes the rationale for a series of common and broadly accepted soil quality indicators. The indicators were selected in view of their appropriateness to assess the condition of soils, its degradation, its resilience, and its valuable services. In particular, the available state-of-the-art knowledge has been compiled to evaluate each indicator using thresholds for the good condition of soils. In this respect, the report provides a framework for the observation of soils, using a broadly accepted indicators. They are specified with the objective to help achieving the best possible degree of harmonization.”

While this report is already available for download on the EIONET website, it has not yet been finalised. It has been published in order to allow different organisations, technical bodies, and above all EU member states to revise it. We recommend reading it and especially reflecting critically on its contents.