Pandemics and climate change from the legal point of view

On 11 March 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Since then, discussions of the origins of the disease have proliferated and new studies have appeared on the relationship between the environment and health. Respected scientists believe that the appearance and spread of viral diseases are connected to the actions of man on nature.

The challenge of containing the damage linked to the climate emergency concerns the health and well-being of everyone. Neither changes in the climate nor pandemics can be combated without recognition and protection of the right to live in a healthy environment and have access to non-renewable resources as a basic human right.

International law and jurisprudence have been moving in this direction since the Stockholm Conference (1972), followed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Malé Declaration (2007, Governments of small developing islands). Overarching them all is the  «Declaration on Human Rights and Climate Change» of the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE) which states: Continua a leggere “Pandemics and climate change from the legal point of view”

Letter to the European Institutions asking for an immediate halt to soil consumption

“To jump over the obstacle you have to get off the ground”

This proverb explains the SIP Forum’s decision to act in a  European context. At this moment of turbulence in the realms of health, the economy, politics and democracy it was necessary to put down an immediate marker on the question of protecting European soils: the obligation to halt the sealing of fertile soils throughout the Union.

The request was sent to those in charge of the Commission, Parliament, Council, Committee of the Regions, and the Economic and Social Committee, a total of around 25 individuals. The text was produced in Italian, German, French and English. The complete original versions of the 5 letters are available on our website .

This is the most important section:

 “Dear Madams, Dear Sirs, Continua a leggere “Letter to the European Institutions asking for an immediate halt to soil consumption”

European Voluntary Civil Service and Obligatory Farming Service

GNDE –Civil Society 

We have been asked to give more details about the GNDE which we introduced in February’s newsletter . There are summaries in a number of European languages but we recommend reading the original text in English in its entirety. We recommend this because we are seeing a proliferation of calls from civil society that deal with the issue in a partial or sectoral manner. When they do approach it in a holistic manner (see for example the excellent Campaign in 7 points “Return to the Future” by FFF-Italy ) they repeat analyses and proposals already present in the GNDE. We are therefore calling on everyone to open up and come together on the same path, avoiding the usual dispersal into different tracks.

Respecting the need to face the overlapping crises in their entirety, the GNDE speaks of Green Public Works. As happened with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the State that has to intervene and impose rules to protect  social cohesion and the environment. The State and the EU – on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity – can impose rules and laws and make sure they are observed. This is why we need an institution like the Commission for Environmental Justice capable of acting throughout the whole of Europe.

GNE – European Commission

Frans Timmermans, the EC Commissioner responsible for the GDE, had a meeting with the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament on 21 April. His words are important because they illustrate how the European Commission wants to implement the Green Deal for Europe.

Many of the points raised in his intervention are present in almost all the EC high representative’s speeches of the last few weeks: the COVID19 crisis and ecological crisis must be faced together; a green recovery is possible in the EU; there is the need for a substantial green investment capacity to create a new green sustainable economy; the GDE is the way to give Europe a growth strategy that is a winning strategy that is also valid globally.

In addition, he mentioned his agreement on the creation of a Green Alliance with ‘180 Ministers, MEP, NGO’s, trade unions, many in the private sector. And it is possible, in the very short run, to design a plan – a green one – that delivers quickly in terms of jobs and economic growth.

Wonderful stuff, no? We have some doubts; we perceive the risk of considering only the solutions indicated in the speech. They all refer to the past way of living and proposing technical solutions like solar panels, home insulation, harvesting more sustainably, cleaner cars or even zero-emission ones, industries adopting the circular economy, etc. All positive steps, but they all seek to return to the previous situation in which “our house will continue to burn”, as Fridays For Future reminded us.

It is not acceptable that to “deliver quick wins, for jobs and for health”, we have to come back to even more cars, more privatisation, a bigger gulf between the richest and the poorest. Moreover, an EU Climate Law with the 2050 deadline as an “aim for Europe to become climate neutral by 2050” is not a responsible target for the younger generations.

It is not the time to look for the usual “lowest European common denominator”, but “Per aspera ad astra” (“through difficulties to the stars”).

Suggestions for changing behaviour

The Peace Corps is a volunteering organisation created in 1961 by the US government  –  at the start of the presidency of John F Kennedy – to intervene in developing countries. Erasmus is the initiative that allows European university students to continue their studies in other  EU member states.

Why do we mention them? Because we have reached the moment for the creation of a European programme to recruit and reward young volunteers in every  Member State of the EU. To do what? Everything that young people have shown themselves capable of in this moment of crisis: solidarity, unselfishness, sacrifice, with the sole aim of making themselves useful.

We would add to this proposal another one, for an obligatory civilian service, paid for out of public funds, to work in the farming sector to support small and medium farmers. The “conscripts” would come into contact with the rural world and learn the value of food production, an activity they would be able to resume whenever they needed to. It would put them in touch with values, knowledge and flavours that would otherwise increasingly be lost.  At the same time this would lead to a revaluing of farming and a challenge to the horrible system of gang labour.

EIP – AGRI European partnership for innovation in farming

The agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) was set up as a new way of helping the agricultural and forestry sectors to become more productive, sustainable, and capable of tackling current challenges. It focuses on forming partnerships and linking people from different professional backgrounds in the EIP-AGRI network through different types of activities, such as Operational Groups and EIP-AGRI Focus Groups. In this way, it is possible to join forces of farmers, advisers, researchers, agribusinesses, NGOs and other stakeholders to achieve quickly innovative solutions and research results that can more easily be put into practice.

The Rural Networks’ Assembly, launched in January 2015, coordinates two networks – the EIP-AGRI Network and the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD). The Assembly includes several subgroups. One of them is related to “Safeguarding our soils” and organised several workshops and seminars on different specific soil topics as Organic is Operational (2017), or Agri-Innovation summit 2019. Continua a leggere “EIP – AGRI European partnership for innovation in farming”

Small family producers respond to corona crisis with nationwide campaign in Greece!

Greece is experiencing low corona-related mortality rates, but the measures imposed came early and were as harsh as in other, more stricken countries, placing severe strain on a society and an economy in shambles due to the ongoing economic crisis.

As in many other EU countries, COVID-19 hit small agro-ecological Greek farmers very hard. Strict restrictions on movement and the provisional closing of many businesses meant that places like small restaurants, hotels, and farmers’ markets suddenly became inaccessible for most of them. In addition, they do not receive subsidies or compensation and rely on short supply chains for their survival. This is critical, not just for their livelihoods, but for the continued existence of family farming in Greece.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers, who usually operate on a more local scale, also faced difficulties as in many cases they were not allowed to travel and had to use the services of already overwhelmed delivery companies instead, adding cost and subtracting quality from their produce. Furthermore, until now most CSA schemes in the country have operated informally; there is no ‘contract’ signed between the two parties, and there is no formal national association to promote or advocate for their interests. Continua a leggere “Small family producers respond to corona crisis with nationwide campaign in Greece!”

Organic Action Plan

Denmark has taken the transition from industrial to ecological agriculture very seriously. It has developed and implemented rules for organic farming and has the highest organic market share in supermarkets. By developing and implementing the Organic Action Plan, from 2011 the government of Denmark aimed to further develop and increase organic production. Furthermore, the Danish Organic Action Plan wants to double the organically cultivated area by 2020, measured from the 2007 level. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, engaging the relevant stakeholders in Denmark was perceived as an essential factor. The government of Denmark wanted the public sector to lead the way and to accelerate the development. Therefore, one objective was to transition from conventional to organic production on publicly owned land. The second objective was to continue efforts to support public sector kitchens to go organic. The vision is that more than 800’000 people could benefit from healthy, organic meals served every day in canteens, hospitals and nurseries. Since Denmark’s Organic Action Plan was adopted in 2011, the organically farmed area has grown by 57 per cent, and sales of organic products by shops has more than doubled. Within these years, sales of organic products to professional kitchens in Denmark have increased by approximately 170 per cent, and 30 municipalities are currently in the process of making their kitchens go organic. Policies that have been developed to support organic farming have played a key role in realising the significant organic results achieved in Denmark. However, the success of this operation is due mainly to the collaboration between farsighted farmers, organisations and politicians that has turned Denmark into the world’s leading country for organic products.



Bollettino n.72


1.ESPERIENZE: Pandemie e cambiamento climatico dal punto di vista del diritto


3.NOTIZIE SU SUOLO E ISTITUZIONI EUROPEE: EIP – AGRI Partenariato europeo per l’innovazione nell’agricoltura


Pandemie e cambiamento climatico dal punto di vista del diritto

L’11 marzo 2020, l’OMS ha dichiarato che siamo di fronte a una pandemia. Da allora sono proliferate le discussioni sulle sue origini e sono apparsi nuovi studi sui rapporti tra ambiente e salute. Autorevoli scienziati ritengono che l’insorgere e la diffusione delle patologie virali  siano correlati all’azione dell’uomo sulla natura.

Il contenimento dei danni connessi all’emergenza climatica è una sfida che riguarda la salute e il benessere di tutte le popolazioni. Sia i cambiamenti climatici che le pandemie non possono essere contrastati senza il riconoscimento e la tutela del diritto a vivere in un ambiente salubre e ad avere accesso alle risorse esauribili come diritto umano fondamentale.

Diritto internazionale e giurisprudenza si muovono in tale direzione già dalla Conferenza di Stoccolma (1972), seguita dalla Convenzione delle Nazioni Unite sui Diritti dell’Infanzia (1989) e dalle dichiarazioni di Malé (2007, Governi delle piccole isole in via di sviluppo). Su tutti prevale la «Dichiarazione sui Diritti Umani e sui Cambiamenti Climatici» del Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE) secondo cui « 5. Tutti gli esseri umani, animali ed ecosistemi viventi hanno diritto al più alto livello di salute raggiungibile privo di inquinamento, degrado ed emissioni dannose e libero da qualsiasi pericolosa interferenza di attività umane sul sistema climatico, così che le crescenti temperature globali siano mantenute ben al di sotto di due gradi centigradi rispetto ai livelli preindustriali.».

Al di là delle dichiarazioni e dei riconoscimenti di carattere generale, la tutela dell’ambiente è stata poi via via associata a specifici diritti umani: alla vita, alla salute, all’acqua, al cibo, alla vita familiare, all’informazione, all’abitazione, a un adeguato standard di vita, nonché ai diritti cosiddetti culturali relativamente ai popoli indigeni. Certo l’associazione tra diritto all’ambiente e diritti umani rappresenta un risultato importante, benché presenti alcuni limiti operativi: il più importante attiene al fatto che la protezione dei diritti umani è incentrata sugli individui (a parte rari casi di gruppi di persone, come i popoli indigeni), problema significativo proprio e soprattutto con riferimento ai cambiamenti climatici. Continua a leggere “Pandemie e cambiamento climatico dal punto di vista del diritto”