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

Annunci

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”

SIP Forum: The Greens at the European Parliament – a conference

The Greens EFA held a session entitled ‘How to really feed the world? Fighting hunger at the root’ at the European Parliament on 18 October. The session was twofold and held 150 participants (farmers, agronomists, students, journalists and MEPs). In the morning, there were talks on the use of pesticides; the afternoon session aimed at reviewing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

More concretely, the morning session dealt with the following issues: the effects of pesticides on the right to food; the Stop Glyphosate! Campaign; data and information manipulation from chemical multinationals. Initiatives and proposals were presented by associations fighting for the elimination of glyphosate, indicating alternative methods of use (a Pesticides Action Network report) together with instructions and recommendations by several farmers, which were shown in the following video.

The SIP Forum was also invited to attend the morning session of the conference. Its representative had the opportunity to “give soil a voice’ underlining:

1) Time: a fundamental parameter to take into account is time. In order to grow in a natural manner soil needs between 100 and 200years, to increase by only 1cm;

2) Soil means life: it breathes, pulses, and it is full of bacteria, large and small-scale animals, insects, plant species, vacuum[1]

3) Ways to combat weeds should be decided by taking into account soil and the wildlife inhabiting it, not just by getting rid of weeds.

4) Some methods are particularly dangerous for soil (hot water, electricity, vapour, fire…)

5) The transition time should be respected: we cannot say to farmers that after eliminating pesticides in only a couple of months everything will be good and they will grow pure organic products. The soil must be cleansed beforehand, and after we must allow it to restore its fertility.

The Forum SIP PowerPoint presentation is available upon request, the entire event was recorded, and the online streaming is available.

[1] Technical word indicating the micro spaces inside the soil containing air. Their dislocation, direction and composition are studied to understand the soil conditions.

NEWS ON SOIL AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS: Estonian Presidency at the EU

The Estonian Presidency at the EU has been making efforts in drawing people’s attention to soil and its use as a component in European life and politics.

On 28 September, it launched a debate on soil with an interesting document which casts light to the problem with the following title: ‘Three square kilometres soil destroyed every day in Europe .

On 4-6 October, a High Level Conference as part of the EU Council Presidency entitled ‘Soil for sustainable food production and ecosystem services’ took place in Tallinn.

The main conclusions of the conference focused on 4 main themes:

  • Policy measures: the need for a strategy at EU level to indicate priorities and measures each EU Member State must implement;
  • Climate Change: the Paris Agreements did not recognize the role of soil in carbon accumulation – even though the 4 per 1000 Initiative was mentioned – therefore specific actions are demanded in and by all Member States, which must however take national and regional differences into consideration;
  • Soil data: it is important to increase the use of soil data in the entire EU, and at the same time harmonize soil measures in order to have a limited number of indicators denoting changes in soil quality, especially for farmers;
  • Communication and awareness raising: each Member State must encourage and create more awareness on the importance of soil for life among the entire European population.

These conclusions point to a specific direction to be followed. However they are not binding and are purely based on the good will of EU Member States.

Will the following presidencies act on what was said in Tallinn?