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Giovedì, 04 Febbraio 2016 02:00

Webinars Food - Climate - Cooperation

As a part of the ClimATE Change project activities in Poland, Polish Green Network organized a series of free and open webinars titled "Food - Climate - Cooperation".

The webinars were directed at everyone interested in learning more about the problems caused by the currently dominating model of food production and consumption as well as the possible ways for farmers, consumers and citizens to create a food system which is more climate-, environment- and people-friendly.

The event consisted of 6 online lectures in Polish which were held between 14th December 2015 and 20th January 2016. They were given by some of the leading Polish experts and practitioners and covered the topics of climate change, permaculture, renewable energy in agriculture, cooperation between farmers and consumers, system changes needed to protect climate. Each lecture was followed by an online discussion during which participants could ask questions to our experts.

The topics of each webinar were as follows:

1. Climate change – where are we and which way are we heading?

2. Permaculture – basics and practical application in the context of climate change

3. Renewable energy in the rural areas – benefits and future

4. Food coops and other cooperatives are changing the world

5. Community supported agriculture – what is it and how can you get involved?

6. What can we do to protect climate? What kind of system do we need?

The webinars were organized in partnership with with Akademia Bosej Stopy and Kooperatywa Dobrze. Additionally, Polish web portal about climate change, ChronmyKlimat.pl, was our media partner.

Altogether a few hundred people took part in all webinars. In order to reach additional audience with the content of the lectures, each webinar was recorded and made available online to watch for free after the end of the whole event.

Polish Green Network co-organized, as a part of the ClimATE Change project events, the 4th National Gathering of the Cooperatives, which was held on the 10-11th October 2015 in Warsaw.

The main theme of the gathering was "Common Good Economics". Polish Green Network was a supporting partner of the event and its representatives took part in various discussion panels including one about food sovereignty in the context of climate change.

The main goal of the event was to discuss about the cooperatives' and other initiatives' role in the process of building a just economy and strengthening urban-rural relations, to exchange experience and ideas between participants, and to create the "Common Good Economics" movement.

The event was open to general public and especially invited were all individuals, cooperatives, organizations, initiatives, formal and informal groups working in the field of solidarity economics, direct democracy and critical education. The idea was to create a space where people could meet, inspire one another, exchange experiences and learn together about the best practices in building a movement initiating the systemic change and transforming our economy.

Among numerous participants were Polish and foreign experts, researchers, farmers, activists and other people engaged in various ways in building the new economic reality. The event took a form of a forum consisting of various lectures, presentations, panel discussions, workshops and meetings.

The two day gathering attracted a big number of people and can be considered a real success. More details about the event, icluding photos, can be found here.

Climate change is increasingly becoming a serious threat to the global food security. Since agriculture and food production are especially prone to the consequences of the changing climatic conditions and growingly unpredictable weather, the state of soils should be an essential part of the debate on combating climate change.

Healthy soils can play an important role in climate change mitigation through storing carbon, the so-called carbon sequestration, as well as by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. However, when soils are managed poorly or cultivated using unsustainable agricultural practices, carbon stored in soil can be exceedingly released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), which together with other greenhouse gases can have negative impact on climate.

In the last 50 years greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry and fisheries have almost doubled. It is estimated that without more decided actions aimed at reducing these emissions they could increase until 2050 by another 30%.

The state of our soils and their impact on climate is greatly influenced by the continuous intensification of agricultural production. The steady conversion of grasslands and forestlands to croplands and pastures has been causing the release of the significant amounts of soil carbon worldwide. It is estimated that land-use changes and drainage of soils for cultivation are responsible for up to 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Thanks to appropriate management, soil can, however, significantly help in dealing with the problems related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. By restoring degraded soils and implementing sustainable agricultural practices, such as crop rotation, zero tillage cultivation, organic farming, agroforestry and others, we have a possibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, increase natural carbon sequestration and build resilience of agriculture and food systems to climate change.

You can learn more about the importance of soils in dealing with climate change from the infographic presented below (click to enlarge):

Infographic

Source: FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Water Council (WWC) warn that by 2050 the access to water in many regions of the world could be significantly reduced which would threaten food security and livelihoods of a big number of people. In the face of these predictions it is essential to change policies and increase necessary investments, including climate change adaptation measures.

Even though it is estimated that in 2050 world water resources will remain sufficient for the global population, which is supposed to reach 9 billion people by then, the continuing overconsumption, environmental degradation and the impact of climate change will lead to problems with the access to water in many of the planet's poorest regions. This is the main conclusion of the new report prepared by FAO and WWC. The document, titled "Towards a water and food secure future”, was presented in April this year in Daegu and Gyeongbuk in the South Korea during the VII World Water Forum, which is the largest international event aimed at finding joint solutions to the main water challenges in the world.

The authors of the report call on the international community to implement appropriate policies and investments, both by the public and private sectors, to ensure sustainable food production which would also allow to protect water resources. Without such actions, the efforts aimed at reducing poverty, increasing incomes and ensuring food security for the millions of people in the global South countries will become increasingly difficult.

"Food and water security are inextricably linked. We believe that by developing local approaches and making the right investments, world leaders can ensure that there will be sufficient water volume, quality and access to meet food security in 2050 and beyond," said Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Council, on the occasion of the launching of the paper. "Agriculture has to follow the path of sustainability and not the one of immediate profitability," added Braga.

"In an era of accelerated changes unparalleled to any in our past, our ability to provide adequate, safe and nutritious food sustainably and equitably is more relevant than ever. Water, as an irreplaceable element of achieving this end, is already under pressure by increasing demands from other uses, exacerbated by weak governance, inadequate capacities, and underinvestment," pointed out FAO Deputy Director-General Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo. "This is an opportune time to re-visit our public policies, investment frameworks, governance structures and institutions. We are entering the post-2015 development era and we should mark it with solid commitments," she added.

Water and agriculture

According to FAO estimates, by 2050 around 60 percent more food - and even up to 100 percent in the global South countries - will be needed to feed the world. This means added pressure on the water supplies which will be required be the world's agriculture in order to meet the growing demand for food. Already now agriculture is the largest user of water globally, accounting in many countries for around two-thirds or more of the water supplies drawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers.

Even with growing urbanization, in 2050 much of the global population and most of the poor will continue to earn their living in agriculture. Yet, as the report notes, the agricultural sector will face the reduction of the available water due to a competing demand from industry and cities. In these circumstances, farmers, and especially smallholders, will have to find new ways to increase their output using limited land and water resources.

Currently, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people in the world and this proportion is likely to increase to two thirds by 2050. This is largely due to overconsumption of water in agriculture. For example in large areas of South and East Asia, in the Near East, North Africa and North and Central America, more groundwater is already used than can be replenished naturally. Additionally, in some regions intensive agriculture, industrial development and expanding cities are responsible for polluting water sources.

Policy changes and new investments

As underlined by FAO and WWC, changing the situation is still possible. In their report they call on governments to help farmers so that they could boost food production using increasingly limited water resources and better manage risks connected with water scarcity. All this will require a combination of public and private investments as well as providing farmers with the necessary knowledge.

It is essential also to solve numerous problems connected with the degradation and waste of water resources. Additionally, the water rights must be allocated in just and inclusive ways. The report highlights in particular the need to guarantee farmers with the access to land and water as well as financial resources in ways which enhance the role of women, who in Africa and Asia are responsible for a big part of the agricultural production.

Addressing climate change

The authors of the document warn that the consequences of climate change, including unusual rainfall and temperature patterns as well as more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts and cyclones, will have a growing impact on agriculture and especially water resources.

Mountain regions provide up to 80 percent of global water supplies, but the ongoing retreat of glaciers due to changing climate threatens the existence of those resources in the future. Forests, on the other hand, not only use water but also provide it - at least one third of the world's largest cities draw a big portion of their drinking water from forested areas. This shows how important it is to increase efforts to protect forested and mountain areas where the majority of the world's freshwater supplies originates.

The report calls for the implementation of policies and investments aimed at enhancing climate change adaptation both at the watershed and households levels. This includes, among other things, improving water storage infrastructure, increasing water capture and reuse as well as expanding research which can help small-scale farmers build more resilient food production systems.

The full document is available here.

Source: UN

Photo credit: Gerardo Pesantez / World Bank (Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Giovedì, 10 Settembre 2015 02:00

Protecting soils crucial for sustainable future

Soil is one of the key natural resources and constitutes the basis for the global food system. Furthermore, as it is a non-renewable resource, its degradation has very serious consequences, which are still too often largely ignored in the discussions about the future of our planet.

In the context of the predicted global population increase to more than 9 billion people by 2050, growing pressure on the finite land and water resources as well as the impact of climate change, our current and future food security depends to a great extent on the state of soils around the world. It is estimated that around 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on soils. Soils are also indispensable for delivering numerous other key ecosystem services. However, in many regions of the world soils are subjected to the increasing pressure caused by agricultural intensification, competing uses of land by livestock farming, forestry and urbanization as well as the necessity to meet food, energy and other needs of the growing population.

It is predicted that if the world population exceeds 9 billion by 2050, agricultural production will have to increase by 60% globally and by up to 100% in the global South countries. One needs to remember, however, that agricultural intensification and advances in farming technology in the past 50 years allowed on one hand to increase productivity, but on the other often led to many negative consequences for the environment, in particular to soil degradation, which jeopardizes the ability to maintain production in these areas in the future. Available data suggest that about 33% of global soils are already moderately to highly degraded because of erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, nutrient depletion and chemical pollution. This hampers significantly soil functions and one should not forget that forming 1 cm of soil can take up to 1000 years.

Soil health and its fertility have a direct influence on the nutrient content of food crops and their yields. Soils supply plants with essential nutrients, water, oxygen and root support. They are also the living environment for a great number of various organisms which directly influence food producing plants. In the context of climate change soils serve as a buffer protecting delicate plant roots from drastic fluctuations in temperature. Healthy soils contribute also to mitigating climate change by maintaining or increasing its carbon content.

In order to effectively protect soils in the world diverse approaches are needed. This include, among others, implementing appropriate policies, investment in sustainable soil management, stopping soil degradation and supporting its restoration, development of targeted soil research and education programmes as well as creating soil information systems. Of key importance is wide promotion of sustainable soil management, in other words using agricultural methods which improve soil quality and reduce their degradation. Among these methods are, for example, using ecological and traditional farming techniques, reducing or forgoing the use of agrochemicals, increasing soil organic matter content, promoting crop rotation, keeping soil surface vegetated, using permanent soil cover, reducing or forgoing tillage, agroforestry etc. It is estimated that these and similar practices could lead to an average crop yield increase of 58%.

You can learn more about the importance of soils and their protection from the infographics presented below (click to enlarge), which were produced by FAO in connection with the ongoing International Year of Soils.

Infographic_1

Infographic_2

Source: FAO

Venerdì, 10 Luglio 2015 02:00

Kopin at l-Imnarja 2015

On the last Sunday of June, coinciding with the eve of the feast of St Peter and St Paul, locals gather at Buskett Gardens, to celebrate the traditional L­Imnarja Festival which extends into the morning of the next day. Mnarja, originally a harvest festival, dates back centuries. Nowadays, the festival which is a popular family event, is characterised by a mix of folk music, traditional food and crafts as well as exhibitions and competitions of animals and local produce. This year, 2015, the event was organized by the Parliamentary Secretariat for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights.

Kopin was invited to participate with a stand at Razzett tal­Ghorof, a 17th century farmhouse recently restored and converted into an educational centre. There, Kopin’s team of staff members and volunteers offered a series of games to both children and adults, aimed at raising awareness about climate change and sustainable development as part of the EU co­funded ClimATE Change project. Dynamic games were used in order to promote adequate recycling and composting as well as to educate the general public on issues like deforestation, soil erosion and carbon and water footprints.

Quizzes and video screenings were also used to draw attention to the links between food production, supply chains, development and human rights. The activities generated a lot of interest from both children and adults attending L­Imnarja.

Mercoledì, 10 Giugno 2015 02:00

Kopin's stand at Earth Garden 2015

On the weekend of the 6th and 7th of June, Kopin participated in the Earth Garden 2015 festival held at Ta'Qali National Park, with a stand offering games and information.

The Earth Garden is a yearly festival that promotes the care for the environment and sustainability through arts, music and culture in a holistic way. Local and international established bands and up-and-coming talents performed throughout the weekend on different stages while local retailers and artisans offered their products. A number of workshops and activities promoting sustainable living were delivered, from discussions on conscious businesses and conscious eating to an introduction to Permaculture and herbal medicine.

Kopin’s team of staff members and volunteers offered a series of activities throughout the weekend, aimed at raising awareness among the general public – children, youths and adults alike – about the links between food production, consumption patterns, development and human rights. Attention was also drawn to the important role of Fair Trade in ensuring the respect of workers' rights world-wide and the ethical distribution of profits while engaging the public to challenge any preconceptions of developed and developing countries.

During the event, Kopin also promoted a number of current projects, with a focus on the ClimATE Change project.

Moreover, a raffle was held and donations were collected to support Kopin's projects. A special thanks goes to The Grassy Hopper and Gugar Hangout Bar, which donated vouchers for a meal at their restaurants to our lucky winners.

For more information on current and future initiatives of Kopin related to the above-mentioned themes, please contact us at Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo. or +356 27567460.

Notes from the lecture delivered by Dione Caruana from the MCAST Agribusiness Institute during free course for farmers held in Malta on the 14th of April 2015, as part of the ClimATE Change project.

To download it, click on the link on your left.

One of the presentations delivered by Daniel Grech from the MCAST Agribusiness Institute during free course for farmers held in Malta on the 23rd of April 2015, as part of the ClimATE Change project.

To download it, click on the link on your left.

Martedì, 02 Giugno 2015 02:00

Reducing water demand – Irrigation methods

One of the presentations used by Daniel Grech from the MCAST Agribusiness Institute during free course for farmers held in Malta on the 23rd of April 2015, as part of the ClimATE Change project.

To download it, click on the link on your left.