Food production without soil

Some of our readers have posed the following question: “Why should we worry about the soil when the future of food production will be in factories/farms located inside buildings that are closed off and very tightly controlled?”

This question is not intended to provoke; rather it reflects a reality that is growing more concrete by the day. You just need to watch this three-minute YouTube video showing productive ‘vertical farms‘ that have been created inside industrial warehouses. These closed sites contain huge metal shelving units or purpose-built structures on which grow plants without soil, with special mechanisms that distribute to the roots of the plants misted water containing all the substances they need to grow. The water ‘irrigates’ the reusable cloth made from recycled plastic on which the plants grow, while the light comes from special lamps; there is no risk of pests or diseases. In addition the sites are easier for people to work in (the shelves can be raised and lowered automatically so they are at the right height) and the whole thing is controlled by sensors connected to computers running the necessary programs. These structures are located not on Mars but in the centres of our cities, allowing the products to be distributed with almost no food miles. Continua a leggere “Food production without soil”

Annunci

The students of the Uccle European School (Brussels)

Parents send their children to school so they can learn. Teachers generally want their students to understand and absorb what is shown to them. The greatest satisfaction, however, comes when students surprise us with their fresh ideas.

On 5 December 2017, the SIP Forum organized an event with the title “Soil is life!” at the Italian Cultural Institute in Brussels with the aim of raising awareness of the soil’s importance for all human beings. Teachers at the European School of Brussels arranged for some of their students to attend the event, in order to stimulate their interest in this complex subject. Their involvement led immediately to increased understanding that extended well beyond the evening itself. Continua a leggere “The students of the Uccle European School (Brussels)”

Third Online Assembly of the Soil Europe Group (SEG) – 10 and 11 February

On 10 and 11 February, the third online assembly of the SIP Forum’s working group Soil Europe took place. This is merely a virtual meeting, as it takes place via email exchange. We asked participants to confirm their attendance by merely checking their computer or tablets and react to the issues raised.

We believe we have acquired expertise in the area, given that the previous two assemblies took place in the same format.

The working programme called for in last year’s assembly had a multi-annual nature. Aside from reviewing results of the defined actions, this year’s Assembly reviewed and updated the programme for the year 2018. The final document of the Assembly is being finalized and will be available in the next Newsletter.

For more information about the outcomes of the 2018 SEG Assembly, please contact suolo.europa@gmail.com

European social dialogue for sustainable construction

Last year, the Soil Europe Group on behalf of the SIP Forum was developing contacts and urging institutions to organize meetings and dialogues with institutional and social actors who deal with soil. Some of the counterparties underlined that the debate was already taking place and that representatives of civil society and those from construction companies had already published some guidelines.

Our counterparties were referring to the Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council Strategy entitled “Strategy for sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector and its enterprises” (COM/2012/0433 of 31/7/2012). They also meant the “BROAD – Building a Green Social Dialogue”, a research project financed by the Commission. Continua a leggere “European social dialogue for sustainable construction”

LULUCF

International and particularly European institutions are experts in creating incomprehensible acronyms. In the past for instance, the DGs of the European Commission were indicated with Roman numerals (DG XII stood for research, DG VIII for cooperation and development, and so on). This changed to using full names, such as DG Environment, DG Research and Innovation… however the idea has always been to use acronyms which could be understood by insiders: DG ECHO, DG EAS, EEAS…

It therefore should not come as a surprise that LULUCF means “Land use, Land Use Change and Forestry”. This is also the title of an EU proposal for regulation – currently being discussed at Parliament and Council – on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry into the 2030 climate and energy framework (COM(2016)0479) . Continua a leggere “LULUCF”

Mondeggi – turning the “soil, common good” concept into reality

Those of you who have read Marco Cappato’s recent book entitled “Credere, disobbedire, combattere” (Believe, disobey, fight) you will have seen examples which reflect the saying “obedience is no longer a virtue”[1]. Our current society, one steered towards profit, needs to develop courage to prove that “another world is possible”. Putting ideas that are seen as idealistic or visionary and aimed at preserving human dignity into practice, is the real challenge we must face, and that future generations must solve.

“Soil, a common good” is one of these concepts: it is abstract on the outside, however it sums up its crucial impact on our lives. It indicates how a sustainable use of soil is a matter of urgency. If we want a society, which can be economically viable in the short run and sustainable in the long run, biophysical and socio-economic factors must inevitably go hand in hand. Human beings have full responsibility for this approach, as future soil degradation as well as its protection both depend on it. Continua a leggere “Mondeggi – turning the “soil, common good” concept into reality”

Soil is Life! – World Soil Day in Brussels

Soil has always been regarded as a specialists’ matter. Its “World Day” sees a series of initiatives in which only those who “work in the area” tend to participate.

The SIP Forum together through its Soil Europe Group opted for a different approach this year. They presented soil to those who do not know anything about it, by using simple language and clear means of communication.

Thanks to the availability and support of the Italian Institute of Culture (IIC) in Brussels, an event based on storytelling, videos, music and experiences took place. Professional and amateur actors, researchers, volunteers: a group of over 10 people took the floor of the IIC theatre. Spectators were encouraged to take part in the performances. The idea was to communicate via discussion and laughter, by exploring possible solutions and not constantly sharing catastrophic numbers on the soil’s condition. The event was therefore divided in two main parts: describing problems related to soil; and considering possible solutions and practical examples, some of which exist already and are not very well-known. This latter part was led by a series of youngsters who practice highly sustainable agriculture.

Further details: https://goo.gl/kfNsF4

Event Videos: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC1LOG1_txKvqwqSc05LxG8T5VQvDztib

4 per 1000 initiative: 16 November 2017, meeting in Bonn

The Initiative Forum’s second official meeting and the 4per1000 Consortium’s third meeting took place in Bad Godesberg (Bonn). The Initiative’s relevance at state and government level was shown by the fact several Ministers and members of the authority were present during the first part. The success is also shown with the Netherlands recently becoming new members of the initiative.

Report by the Secretariat and that by the Technical and Scientific Committee illustrated this year’s activities. In sum: the 4×1000 Initiative has been actively consolidating its organisational structure. We can affirm that the work done until now by both groups has achieved the organisational aims that had been set.

Among the main leaders’ speeches, the matter of potentially causing overlapping with existing actions of organisations like FAO, European Commission and others, was mentioned. Under the current scheme of the Initiative, it is clear that exists some form of “clash” risk with the organisations that have been dealing with these matters for years. However, room for collaboration is both offered to and asked of everyone. Continua a leggere “4 per 1000 initiative: 16 November 2017, meeting in Bonn”