Newsletter n.51


EXPERIENCES: River Bruna – No to polluting the aquifers


3.NEWS ABOUT THE SOIL AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS:  The Environmental Implementation Review



River Bruna – No to polluting the aquifers

A good friend who is always engaged in the struggle for justice and dignity told us that he had an invisible No Waiting sign stuck to his back. The sign reminded him at all times that he should not “stop” and that the fight against injustice obliged him to get involved wherever a battle for human dignity was taking place. The purpose of this section is to take the same approach. We use it to bring to your attention actions, battles, ideas and experiences that allow you, the reader, to “discover” choices you can support or, even better, “copy”.

In this newsletter we are looking at the actions taken by the Committee to defend the River Bruna (in the photo) against the deposit of so-called “gessi rossi” in the Bartolina quarry. “Gessi rossi” (“red gypsum”) is waste material from the production of titanium dioxide (a white pigment used in industry and in food production and potentially carcinogenic according to the WHO and the EU) when it combines with the marble dust in the Carrara quarries. In the presence of water, these “gessi” deposit in the aquifers abnormally high levels of chlorides, chromium, vanadium, sulphates and manganese, all of which are regarded as carcinogenic. Continua a leggere “River Bruna – No to polluting the aquifers”

SIP Forum: one step at a time

We reported in a previous newsletter how the SIP Forum’s draft law became a proposal in the Chamber of Deputies on 23 March. It did not stop there: in July the text was presented to the Italian Senate. The SIP Forum therefore now bears a growing responsibility. It would be a mistake to think that the “game” is over and that the text will swiftly obtain its final approval. Given that it has not been possible over the past 20 years to get a law passed against soil consumption, it will not be an easy task to gain approval in a short space of time for a law that puts in place solid foundations for the protection of the soil and establishes a radical change in the way building and large construction projects are conceived.

At the same time it would be a mistake to think that this draft law applies only to Italy.  It is worth remembering that a proposal for a European directive on the soil was discussed for no less than 8 years  (2006-2014) – without ever being approved! Although it was far from revolutionary, the proposal set out the path that needs to be followed in order to safeguard the soil for future generations. Since that proposed directive was withdrawn we have been in a vacuum that could allow whatever emerges from the Italian “door” back through the EU’s “window”. This is why we must consider immediately whether the text of the Italian draft law as it stands should be put before EU bodies and institutions in order to extract from it the principles of a new EU directive. Continua a leggere “SIP Forum: one step at a time”

EESC Opinion on Land Use

There is an old story about a smuggler who crossed the border between two countries every day pushing an empty wheelbarrow. The customs officers stopped him and searched him many times without finding anything amiss. After a long time one of the customs officers told the smuggler he was about to retire, and asked him to finally tell him what he had been smuggling and how. The answer was: “Wheelbarrows, you just have to push them”.

We in the European Soil Group and SIP Forum do not regard ourselves as “smugglers”, but we definitely do push our “wheelbarrow” along every day. It is not empty, but holds our vision to create the European Forum to Save the Landscape and Defend the Land. This is why we continue to try to establish contacts with those who use the soil without any concern about how they are using it. It is not a question of reaching “compromises”, but rather of understanding one another. Documents are piling up in our wheelbarrow that contain the different positions of the various different actors. In describing them we try to underline the most important points, including those which to us seem like weak points. Continua a leggere “EESC Opinion on Land Use”

The Environmental Implementation Review

There are daily reports in the media on the economic restrictions decided by the European Commission and requested of the member States. We hear about letters, controls, assessments that impose financial restraints, often to the detriment of individuals. These measures are regarded, perhaps justly, as vexatious, but the EU institutions merely put into action the decisions of the member States. It’s like blaming the ordinary soldier for decisions taken by their colonel.

The Commission has taken some other steps that are less discussed in the media. For example, the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR COM (2016) 316 final) is a tool for improving the effective implementation of the EU’s environmental legislation.

We recall that the EU is an area with one of the most advanced sets of environmental legislation in the world. This is not a moral “boast”, but rather it expresses the need to preserve the planet by showing the “virtuous” path to follow. Furthermore, the failure to enact environmental protection policies has high environmental, economic and social costs. We therefore welcome this measure that draws attention to the environment. Continua a leggere “The Environmental Implementation Review”


Human recklessness grows and grows. In the face of the widespread denial of the reality of climate change we must point out the heatwaves that affected Northern Europe and many other parts of the globe this summer. Above all we should note that Earth Overshoot Day has moved back another day! While in 2017 it fell on 2 August, in 2108 it has fallen on 1 August. We remind readers that this is an indication of the day on which the earth’s inhabitants have consumed the whole of the planet’s resources for the year.

Eco Ruralis (Romania)

Can an NGO set out to change farming in the country where it operates? This is the aim of Eco Ruralis, an NGO set up in 2009 by small-scale farmers from different areas of Romania. There is just one criterion for membership: to practise traditional organic farming on the basis of care for the environment.

Unlike in industrialized farming, farmers who belong to this NGO use, gather and distribute only heritage seeds. In this way they hope to preserve both Romania’s food sovereignty and above all respect for consumer health.

Eco Ruralis believes in a society that puts farming and the environment at the heart of the collectivity, with a clearly defined and enhanced role for farmers. This is the only way to achieve a society that is environmentally sustainable, economically fair and socially just. Continua a leggere “Eco Ruralis (Romania)”

Agro-ecological farming in West Africa

One of our readers responded to our item in the previous newsletter about the first African symposium of the 4per1000 Initiative (Johannesburg 24 to 26 October 2018) by letting us know about an exciting project:  “Agro-ecological Transition Support Project in West Africa” was launched in Abuja (Nigeria) on 27 April.

This is an 8 million euro project involving Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Togo. Its purpose is to support agro-ecological transition in West Africa through the financing of projects that support agro-ecological intensification and exchanges of experience. Financed by the French Development Agency (AFD), the main priority of the project is to support agro-ecology in particular on family farms in order to help them produce high quality food sustainably and in sufficient quantities while facing changes in climate. Continua a leggere “Agro-ecological farming in West Africa”