In this part of the newsletter, we aim to showcase experiences that our readers can, with a bit of goodwill, try to repeat. Below we present a project called “Mind your butts!” devised by the group Marche Rifiuti Zero [Zero waste in the Marche]. This is an educational programme aimed at 16-18 year olds. Let’s see what they have to say.”The aim of the project is to raise awareness among young people of the global environmental crisis and impress on them the need to participate in resolving it in an active and informed way, in order to improve the health of the Earth and its inhabitants. This involves a vision of the environment as a common good which must be taken care of and the development of initiatives around the theme of environmental protection. One of the practical aims is to carry out campaigns to raise awareness of good practices that help reduce plastic and protect the seas.
We put forward a message to educate people against throwing away cigarette butts in the open, a practice that is unfortunately very widespread as our clean ups show (we intend to involve young people in one of these events) while at the same time removing from the waste disposal system items that cannot otherwise be recycled.”
Once again, we are highlighting the local groups and committees that belong to the Gruppo Suolo Europa [European Soil Group]. Groups we have previously featured include the Comitato di Salviamo Il Paesaggio di Cislago, Pro Natura Cuneo, Amici di Cuirone.
Here in brief are the aims, make-up and proposals of the Comitato No Bretella-Sì Mobilità Sostenibile Campogalliano, Modena, Formigine, Sassuolo.
In 2015, a group of well-informed and environmentally aware citizens who were concerned about soil consumption and sustainable mobility came together to form a committee and produced a text for a people’s petition to be sent to the EU. The petition criticized the uselessness in transport terms as well as the damage to the environment, landscape and soil that would be caused by the proposed new Campogalliano Sassuolo motorway created by extending the A22 South, as well as the illegitimacy of the renewal of the A22 motorway licence without any European tendering process. The justification for the renewal of the licence, which had expired in 2014, was given as the construction of the Capogalliano Sassuolo and Cispadana motorways through a finance project led by Autobrennero Ltd.
MEPs have a number of different ways to advance the drawing up of policies. One of the most commonly used is a question for the Commission, since it is the European Commission that has to take the initiative in putting forward proposals for directives.
MEPs Lídia Pereira, Marek Paweł Balt, Fredrick Federley, Simona Baldassarre, Pär Holmgren, Alexandr Vondra, and Petros Kokkalis on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) questioned the Commission the 25/11/2020 on the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change. Here are the questions:
“The Commission is due to present a new Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change in early 2021. Adaptation measures are crucial to prepare for a changing climate by building resilient societies that are able to minimise its adverse impacts. The upcoming Strategy is an opportunity for the Commission to show the EU’s leadership on adaptation, and ensure Member States are on track to meet the adaptation goal of the Paris Agreement.
In this context, we would welcome answers to the following questions:
Few remember now that in 2012 there was a European Citizens Initiative (ECI), which collected almost 1.7 million signatures in twelve months. The ECI was entitled: Right2Water – Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!
Time has passed and that ECI has produced a new European Directive: The quality of water intended for human consumption. Composed of 140 pages, the directive goes into the details of the distribution of water right up to when it comes out of the tap at home. Formally approved and published on 16/12/2020, it will enter into force in mid-January 2021, from which date the three-year period will start for its transposition into the laws of each EU Member State.
This new directive proposes a reduction in the consumption of bottled water, which could save households over 600 million euros a year. Furthermore, to enable and encourage people to drink tap water rather than bottled water, the quality of tap water will be improved by imposing stricter limits for certain pollutants, including lead.
The use of tap water, made safer and cheaper at home, will allow better protection of the environment, especially in reducing the use of plastic. Thus, Member States will ensure that measures taken to implement the new standards are based on the precautionary principle and under no circumstances lead to the deterioration of the present quality of drinking water. To this end, Member States shall ensure the free provision of water in public buildings and should encourage restaurants, canteens, and catering services to give customers water for free or for a low service fee. Member States should also take measures to improve access to water for vulnerable groups, such as refugees, nomadic communities, homeless people, and minority cultures.
Congratulations to the JRC (Joint Research Centre) of the European Commission for setting up and launching, on 4 December 2020, the European SoilObservatory (EUSO). There was need for a single tool capable of leading forces, energy, data and policies on the soil towards a common understanding. The date chosen is the World Soil Day. This was not the usual ritual celebration, rather it was a presentation of a clear vision and the illustration of the various stages that researchers, groups, farmers, politicians, civil servants and civil society must go through together.
The first step is to involve member states in order to increase exponentially the number of sites from which soil data are retrieved.
The new EU Soil Observatory will pool satellite data and field samples to create an overview of soil health across Europe. EUSO has fixed five objectives:
EU-wide soil monitoring
Strengthened soil data centre
Monitoring of soil related policies
Soil Research and Innovation
Providing an open and inclusive European Soil Forum
The purpose of the EUSO is not to create yet another bureaucratic European entity. On the contrary, the purpose is to rationalize, use and complement actions and data that until now have been spread across different bodies. This will facilitate the exchange of synergies and above all the use of scientific data to respond to the policy and administrative needs in a context of mutual respect and attention. Let’s acknowledge that this is not easy, but it is necessary, especially now that policies with a direct impact on the soil are being developed in the context of the EU Green Deal.
The actions and experiences of the SIP Forum mean that it should be part of this journey, which began on 4 December.
Founded in 1998 the Association for the promotion of sustainable agriculture (APAD) brings together farmers, technical experts and regional associations from all over France. The group promotes sustainable farming through over 1000 “farmers and technicians, who identify, develop, master, reproduce and promote farming techniques that lead to the protection of the soil “.
APAD has three main aims: i) Contribute to increased awareness of the problems associated with soil conservation; ii) Establish an agriculture that conserves the soil as well as an agriculture that serves citizens, guaranteeing high-quality production at reasonable cost while preserving the environment; iii) Support farmers to progress in their farming practice that conserves the soil.
Their important and interesting debate held on 4 September 2020 with the title
“Au coeur du sol” is well worth a watch (1h:15′, in French):