The ELO (European Landowners’ Organization) Soil and Land prize

ELO – the European Landowners’ Organisation –  was founded in 1972. Its members consist of landowners’ organizations from almost every State Member of the EU. Its mission is as follows: “ELO is committed to promoting a sustainable and prosperous countryside and to increasing awareness relating to environmental and agricultural issues.

ELO contributes to close cooperation between rural communities and, through numerous projects that are cofinanced by the European Commission, aims to counteract rural depopulation caused by urbanization and globalization. Set up as a forum for different rural stakeholders, it functions as a platform for the analysis of local problems connected with the implementation of European legislation. Continua a leggere “The ELO (European Landowners’ Organization) Soil and Land prize”

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Livelihood Funds (France)

Can private businesses be concerned about the future of the planet? It seems they can, and ever more so. For several years now, the Livelihood Funds for example have been managing investment funds to combat environmental degradation, climate change and poverty. The major investors include Danone, Schneider Electric, Crédit Agricole S.A., Michelin, Hermès, SAP, Groupe Caisse des Dépôts, La Poste, Firmenich, Voyageurs du Monde, Mars Inc. and Veolia.

There are currently three investment funds, launched in 2011, 2015 and 2017.

The path is paved with good intentions which are set out on the Livelihood Funds site.

We are talking about it because on 16 January they published an interesting article Why Water Preservation Needs A Healthy Soil. It details the links between water, soil and organic matter. Soil that is kept healthy thanks to sustainable farming and management practices, brings many benefits for the whole ecosystem and especially water quality. Continua a leggere “Livelihood Funds (France)”

The soil as a Carbon trap

One of the problems encountered by teachers and academics is how to communicate clearly on topics that require a specific vocabuluary because of their complexity. Trying to explain the difference between carbon, organic carbon, organic substances, and carbon dioxide requires communicative gifts that are rare among soil researchers.

It’s better to rely on those whose job is communication, including science journalists.

Below we summarise two articles that we think can help lead to clearer understanding of what the 4per1000 Initiative continues to bring to the attention of the media and politicians and an ever more concrete way. Continua a leggere “The soil as a Carbon trap”

The soil: how much do we value this critical resource?

How much do we value the soil?” is the question posed by a recent publication from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. It is neither a guide nor a manual for the economic valuation of a material good. It is a publication designed to remind people of the importance of the soil for the survival of humanity through the research carried out by the JRC.

Continua a leggere “The soil: how much do we value this critical resource?”

What researchers are saying – the EASAC Report

We have often referred to soil researchers as “Cassandras” whose warnings, like those of the Trojan princess, are ignored. We have also pointed out that researchers are to some extent to blame for not communicating effectively with different audiences. This gap could potentially be filled by a recent report from a significant number of European researchers. The report was produced by EASAC –  the European Academies Science Advisory Council. It was officially presented on 26 September in the splendid setting of the Palace of the Academies in the Royal Palaces complex in Brussel. The title of the report is  “Opportunities for soil sustainability in Europe”.

The report is the work of a multidisciplinary group of European experts. It deals with the implications for the soil of recent scientific research and gives a snapshot of the current situation. Its aim is to identify possible solutions to be integrated into political choices and decisions in order to assure soil sustainability in Europe. Continua a leggere “What researchers are saying – the EASAC Report”

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”

…. Let’s get started

As we have mentioned in previous newsletters, the SIP Forum Gruppo Suolo Europa (Europe Soil Group) is taking action to achieve two objectives: dialogue between the various actors that use or are involved in the soil; and synergies between the various voluntary associations in civil society whose main focus is not on the soil.

In order to achieve the first objective it is necessary to break down prejudices and fixed positions in order to build mutual respect at least, if not complete trust. The second is frequently blocked by the structures of those voluntary organizations themselves.

Both these objectives are hard to achieve and require time. We are reminded that in order to be sustainable the concept of “time” must be respected and cannot be artificially “compressed”. This is illustrated by the failure of the attempt to collect a million signatures for the people4soil European Citizens’ Initiative, which perhaps failed to take account of this fact.

Continua a leggere “…. Let’s get started”

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”