UAE Green Brands 2012


In the last weeks I’ve been working to this project as a green journalist finding out what the most green brands and companies in United Arab Emirates are. Among others: Dubai Healthcare City, Enpark, Unilever. If you wish to have a look at the book, please download it here for free.

Nelle ultime settimane ho lavorato a questo progetto come giornalista green, raccontando le migliori pratiche e gli impegni ambientali di alcune aziende operanti all’interno degli Emirati Arabi Uniti. Tra le altre: Dubai Healthcare City, Enpark, Unilever. Se volete dare un’occhiata alla pubblicazione, potete scaricarla gratuitamente qui.

[UAE Green Brand]

Hyper-sustainable architecture: Med in Italy

Originally published on Slowear Journal on Oct 30th

Thanks to Francesca Stignani for translation

Leggi in italiano

A real Italian miracle”. That’s how the press defined the global success of Med in Italy, the very first Italian hyper-sustainable house. The project involved a team of students and architects from the Universties of Rome and Trento, which worked on it for over a year in collaboration with some of the best Italian firms in the field of innovative building industry.

The name evokes the Mediterranean nature of the house, which has been designed for warm climates and as a response to global warming. The layering of the walls, containing sand in aluminum tubes and coatings of natural isolation made with wooden wool, ensure thermal balance, while the heating is provided by solar panels, which produce three times the energy consumed by the house.

The “Mediterranean house” can be assembled impressively quickly: five days are enough to put together the 50 square meter structure, plus five more days for the installation and the testing of the systems. Which is why this house is a perfect solution in case of emergency (i.e. earthquakes) as well as an affordable alternative to traditional building methods.

Med in Italy won the third prize in the general ranking at the Solar Decathlon Europe competition in Madrid, and  the first prize for Sustainability, concerning the environmental impact of the house in its “lifetime”. The low-impact of Med in Italy has been further confirmed by its transportation: the house has been carried from Italy to Spain and back by rail transport, thus sparing around five tons of CO2.

Although it’s not on the market yet, Med in Italy will soon be a real alternative and an attractive novelty for green architecture in Italy and abroad.

•  Spread the voice about Italian excellence!  •
[Med in Italy]

Fujino Transition Town in Japan

Originally published on Slowear Journal on Sep 25th

Leggi in italiano

Japan responds to peak oil and energy issues with the green concept of Transition Towns. There are 24 such communities from the North to the South of the country, all of them founded in the early 2000s.

Fujino – one of the first Transition Towns to be born in Japan – is the closest one to Tokyo (only 50 kilometers away).  Around 20 out of 10.000 locals make up the core Transition Group, yet “locals are very open-minded towards transition’s ideas” – states Mr. Hide Enomoto of Transition Fujino.

In fact, it might be that these concepts are not so new to Fujino people.  The fundamentals of Transition Network – founded in 2008 by Rob Hopkins in Great Britain – are permaculture and resilience; in other words, it’s all about finding a clever way to adapt ourselves to socio-environmental changes by building integrated communities.

After all, the principles of sharing and community – not to mention that of “reverence” towards nature – are deeply rooted in millenary Japanese culture, from Confucianism to Shintoism. According to permaculture – which is not merely a cultivation method – human communities should mimic the natural ecosystems, efficiently organized as every little part of the system has a specific role and shares its abilities, relying in its turn on the others’ support.

So what does this mean from a practical point of view? In Fujino, people live ordinarily – eating, working, chatting, and having fun. To get around, they use an hybrid (and shared!) car, which takes advantage of slopes and has a minimum fuel stock in case of need.

Wooden houses with hay-insulated roofs lay side-by-side with one another to form a nagaya – literally “a long house” – to foster the sense of community and facilitate communication. As for the diet, most of the people at Fujino’s community eat vegetarian or macrobiotic food, although this is not mandatory: there are also people eating animal products. In fact, this one – like many others in the community – is a free choice.

For preserving freedom of choice and expression is the first step towards feeling naturally free.

• Watch the interview to Mr. Hide Enomoto here

[Transition Network]

Contribution to Landscapes Blog for People Food and Nature has started gathering info, knowledge, opinions and suggestions from farmers and some of the players involved in agricultural sector interested in sustainability. They started collecting contributions from all over the world and by accident it was me editing the one coming from Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition.

If you are a farmer, don’t miss the full article Ten commandments for a sustainable agriculture in Italy   and feel free to leave your comments and bring your voice to the discussion.

Interviewing Nobel Prize Amartya Sen

One of the latest events focused on efficiency of economic measuring tools (GDP) at Bocconi University in Milan featured Amartya Sen as guest speaker. Besides awarding the Nobel Prize for economy in 1998, he has received quite 100 honorary degrees and is currently professor of both Economy and Philosophy at Harvard University.

I attended the lectio magistralis listening carefully to his story of snakes and ladders (a traditional Indian game), suitable to represent the crucial phase of European economy in these days – snakes represent the several hindrances and ladders the few improvements.

After the conference I was lucky enough to make him a short interview on the behalf of BCFN. Unfortunately he was in a hurry so I had the time to ask him just a couple of questions.

What is your recipe of moving up economic growth in Europe? 

「Economists say they don’t need theory to make economy growing, they need slogans. This is not what I am going to tell you tonight, as we don’t need a list of rules for “good growth”. The important thing is understanding why growth is necessary – paying back the national deficit, assessing public services, etc – and listening to each other making the best out of Democracy.」

Why is food security not granted to everyone yet?

「Food security is a serious issue, you have to consider three elements at least: firstly how much is the income and the economic means to access food; secondly food prices volatility needs a stabilizer – and the government could play this role; Thirdly, the unfairness of distribution between the classes and men and women in the world. So you cannot solve food security just looking at food…

If you want to delve into Sen’s politics-economic insights, I’d suggest you to read his masterpiece Development is Freedom on the importance of public discussion and democracy for economic development.

• This was a long one! Thank you for reading 😉 •

Uno degli eventi dell’Università Bocconi di Milano di questo mese si intitolava「Oltre il PIL: un nuovo concetto di valore」. Ospite d’onore il celebre Amartya Sen, economista indiano vincitore del Premio Nobel nel 1998, oltre che professore di Economia e Filosofia ad Harvard nonché insignito di quasi 100 lauree honoris causa.

Ho ascoltato con interesse il suo lungo intervento, quasi una lectio magistralis. Per descrivere l’attuale situazione politico-economica europea, Sen è ricorso ad una similitudine con il gioco indiano dei serpenti e delle scale, dove i numerosi serpenti sono gli ostacoli e le scale i pochi progressi.

L’ho intervistato dopo la conferenza per il BCFN, purtroppo c’è stato il tempo solo per due brevi domande.

Dal suo punto di vista, qual è la ricetta di crescita economica per l’Europa?

Quando parlano di crescita gli economisti dicono che non hanno bisogno di individuare una teoria, bensì  uno slogan. Io non ho slogan, non credo che sia il caso di stilare una lista per punti con la ricetta per la crescita. E’ importante tenere a mente che la crescita economica è necessaria ad esempio per ripagare il debito dello Stato, per migliorare ed implementare i servizi pubblici, ecc; l’unica regola per gli stati è ascoltarsi l’un l’altro e lasciare spazio alla Democrazia. 」

Come mai la sicurezza alimentare non è ancora un diritto garantito a tutti?

La sicurezza alimentare è un tema difficile, dobbiamo tenere in considerazione almeno tre parametri: se ci sono o meno i mezzi economici per accedere al cibo; la volatilità dei prezzi dei cereali (lo stato potrebbe svolgere il ruolo di stabilizzatore); per ultimo la globale iniquità nella distribuzione di beni tra le classi sociali e gli uomini e le donne. Come vede, è una questione molto complessa: non basta concentrarsi sul cibo per risolvere il problema della sicurezza alimentare… 」

Se volete approfondire i temi trattati da Amartya Sen, vi consiglio di leggere Lo sviluppo è libertà, sull’intreccio tra mercato e politica e la centralità della democrazia per lo sviluppo economico. Qui potete ascoltare l’intero intervento di Sen alla conferenza.

• This was a long one! Thank you for reading 😉 •

A debate about degrowth

I’ve been working so far at the organization of the webinar Which economic model for a sustainable growth? by Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. Webinars – also known as BCFN Talks – are short yet well-structured debates following talk show TV format moderated by very well prepared Alex Thomson from Channel 4 News. The event went online on live streaming at BCFN website, but it is possible to watch registered video later here.

On April 5th BCFN hosted a debate about sustainable economic growth inviting three experts in economics and social sciences, expressing individual’s different opinion on the topic. The debate started from the question “what are the limits of the traditional model based on economic growth?”.

Philippe Aghion, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, went crazy about innovation: innovation can solve all kinds of problems. On the other hand, Peter A. Victor, Professor of Ecological Economics at University of York and author of the book Managing without growth, remarked the unavoidable limits to growth due to limited resources on this planet. Finally activist and writer Raj Patel (@Raj Patel) gave priority to food and the occupy movements happening worldwide.

If you are interested, please follow this link to have more info and express your opinion through social media tools interaction. Do you think degrowth means reducing personal money and comforts?

Thank you for stopping by. Follow me on Twitter @ecoSFL.

Durante i mesi scorsi ho lavorato all’organizzazione del webinar Quali modelli economici per una crescita sostenibile? presentato dal Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. I webinar, chiamati anche BCFN Talks, sono dei format che seguono i canoni dei talk show televisivi per realizzare dei brevi seminari/dibattiti online fruibili gratuitamente in diretta live streaiming dal pubblico in tutto il mondo. La moderazione è stata affidata al valido Alex Thomson, giornalista televisivo di lunga esperienza del canale britannico Channel 4 News.

L’incontro del 5 aprile era dedicato al confronto sugli schemi economici possibili in futuro in un’ottica di stabilizzazione, partendo dalla riflessione sulla situazione attuale: ” quali sono i limiti di un’economia basata sul modello della crescita costante?”

Philippe Aghion, professore ordinario di Economia dell’Università di Harvard, ha puntato tutto sull’innovazione, che nel bene e nel male riuscirà sempre a risolvere i problemi dell’umanità, come ha fatto finora. In totale contrasto la posizione di Peter A. Victor, professore di Economia Ecologica presso l’Università di York in Canada e autore del recente libro Managing without growth (non tradotto in italiano), che ha posto l’accento sull’evidente finitezza delle risorse del pianeta e sulla necessità di domandarci dove ci porta l’innovazione, qual è il suo vero valore ovvero fino a che punto ne abbiamo bisogno (fino a dove si può arrivare? Il beneficio che ne traiamo è superiore alle risorse impiegate per arrivarci?). Infine l’attivista  e scrittore Raj Patel (@Raj Patel) ha contestualizzato la prospettiva sullo sfondo delle proteste popolari di Occupy Wall Street e sull’estrema iniquità della distribuzione della ricchezza (e del cibo) globale.

Potete seguire tutto il dibattito qui ed esprimere la vostra opinione sui canali sociali del BCFN.

Grazie per l’interesse! Seguitemi su Twitter @ecoSFL.

[Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition]

Interviewing Fred Pearce

Fred Pearce is one of the most influent English environmental journalists. He has published a many books and he is a columnist at The Guardian. I was lucky enough to meet him in Italy and to speak with him about his enviews, experiences and some very hot issues – like droughts, over-population, smart cities, etc.

Unfortunately the interview was published on Italian magazine – which I’m volunteering at – .eco , if you wanna try giving it a reading… please, have fun!

Fred Pearce è uno dei maggiori giornalisti britannici che si occupano di ambiente e dell’indagine delle situazioni economico-sociali direttamente legate ad esso.

Ho avuto la fortuna di incontrarlo personalmente durante il Festival di Internazionale a Ferrara in occasione di un seminario didattico da lui tenuto, dedicato – guarda caso – al giornalismo ambientale.

Questa è l’intervista che  ho confezionato per la rivista  .eco, buona lettura!

[Fred Pearce]

• Thank you for stopping by •