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Italy’s ecological transition with Minister Cingolani

By ecology, sdg 1, sdg 10, sdg 11, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 14, sdg 15, sdg 16, sdg 17, sdg 2, sdg 3, sdg 4, sdg 5, sdg 6, sdg 7, sdg 8, sdg 9

Alongside Roberto Cingolani, Minister for the Ecological Transition, we imagined what the world will be like in 2040 when his youngest son will be 30 years old. Cingolani helps us understand why we need to act now to put all the knowledge we have to good use. Are you ready to do your part to facilitate a transition that, by the very nature of the term, must be gradual?

Cristina: How will we transition from the world we have to the one we want? We came to Genoa to ask the Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani, physicist, researcher and father of 3 children. Good morning Minister. In 2040 we’ll be 10 years away from the 2050 target of zero emissions and your youngest son will be 30 years old – what will the world look like?

Minister Cingolani: If we’ll have done a good job it could be much cleaner than it is now and above all, there should be much less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and we’ll probably start to limit and mitigate the effects of global warming. The problem is that we have to start tomorrow and install all the renewable energy we need, we have to reach 72% of renewable electricity by 2030, so 10 years before the date you mentioned and I have to say that it worries me. Paradoxically, the problem today is neither resources nor technology, nor companies that can install these large plants, especially in Italy where we have lots of know-how. Right now, the most limiting factor is the bureaucratic one. The chain of permits for the installation of photovoltaic, wind and renewable energy plants is so slow, we risk that during the 5-year duration of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), these permits will be issued too late. First of all, we need to simplify the regulatory and authorizational aspects because there is such urgency, we can no longer waste any
time.

Cristina: Let’s imagine that world in 2040 for a moment longer.

Minister Cingolani: Smart mobility, cities on a human scale, greener. Hopefully we will have recovered some biodiversity, and above all, a greater awareness of tomorrow’s adults, today’s children.

Cristina: A question about fossil fuel subsidies is inevitable. Where are we and what do you think is the right destination?

Minister Cingolani: It’s a very delicate subject, unfortunately, sustainability is a compromise between different demands, we must mitigate the damage we’ve done to the environment as soon as possible, but at the same time, we must allow people to live and work. Unfortunately this also depends on contingent situations, we are not coming out of a particularly prosperous and happy period. The subsidies must certainly be reduced as soon as possible, and if we can reduce them we can reinvest a part of these reductions in something that will help create new jobs, including the reconditioning of the transportation industry. It’s a balancing act because if we ideologize the problem we harm workers, if we neglect the problem we harm the environment, so we all need to think about how to reorganize our habits and our lifestyles knowing that nothing is free.

Cristina: Thank you Minister.

Minister Cingolani: Thank you and good luck to everyone.

Cristina: Our country’s green transition must fulfill all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. An eye on the present and an eye to the future!

On air June 12th, 2021

Bees – the sentinels of biodiversity

By ecology, sdg 1, sdg 10, sdg 11, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 14, sdg 15, sdg 16, sdg 17, sdg 2, sdg 3, sdg 4, sdg 5, sdg 6, sdg 7, sdg 8, sdg 9

Having taken sustainable development to heart for a few decades now and focusing on solutions to our biggest challenges, I tend to think that issues which have been brought to our attention have positively evolved. Sadly that’s not the case but I know we have all the information to evolve as a species and co-exist respectfully with the complex ecosystems that we’re a part of. Speaking with Andrea, the beekeeper I always buy honey from, he introduced me to Luca Bosco and Marco Bergero. Thanks to these dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable young men, I found out that bees and pollinators are more threatened than ever. That’s how this interview came about and I learned how much more there is to do. If you know any hazelnut or almond growers please share this story. Christina Grozinger, Director of the Center for Pollination Research at Penn State confirms that exposure to fungicides, neonicotinoids and insecticides is causing great harm to pollinators. Engaging in conversations with the people we buy produce from is critical to understanding the  impact of our choices.

Cristina: Today is World Biodiversity Day, and the UN wants to bring our attention to the complex dynamics that govern life on earth. Biodiversity is our greatest treasure and monitoring its health is complicated. We are in the Cuneo area to meet Luca, a beekeeper. Luca, why are bees the most precious sentinels of biodiversity?

Luca Bosco: Because everything that arrives in the hive collected by bees is the result of a synergy between different forms of life and, therefore, is a result of the environment’s biodiversity.

Cristina: What do your observations tell you?

Luca Bosco: That the bee’s situation, and pollinators in general, is very serious. We often see episodes of die-offs and poisonings in our hives. Unfortunately we find insecticides, fungicides and herbicides in the matrices of the hives. One herbicide in particular, the molecule glyphosate, is very serious because its discovery, especially in the hive’s honey matrix – maturing honey, is a precise clue. The molecule that is sprayed here can end up anywhere, we find it in the water, in the air, it inevitably ends up in the soil because it’s sprayed on the ground and we also find it in plant pollen and nectar. This is a clear indication that the ecosystem’s natural filters are somehow degrading.

Cristina: Luca, which crops are sprayed the most with these substances?

Luca Bosco: Here we find ourselves in an area of viticulture and coriliculture, so grapes and hazelnuts. In recent years, thanks to the work of the beekeepers association, viticulturists have learned to use pesticides wisely, without causing direct and serious harm to pollinators. On the other hand, as far as hazelnuts are concerned, the matter is still open to discussion because it’s a new crop and, at the moment, the agronomic practices in use leave much to be desired. They are a source of direct poisoning, somehow they’re also the cause of those systematic findings in the hive matrices, especially in this area. We want to appeal to those who grow hazelnuts to follow the path already taken by winemakers.

Cristina: Luca you are about to take some samples, what is their frequency and what are they for?

Luca Bosco: They’re monthly and are used to investigate the possible presence of chemical molecules. Experience tells us that we will most likely find them because in past years, their presence has unfortunately been very assiduous. We know that these molecules are harmful to bees, also because of their somewhat unique ability to purify environmental matrices by absorbing chemical molecules into their bodies, to their own detriment of course, but especially preserving the honey. Somehow, the honey always results pure.

Cristina: How phenomenal. Do you cross-reference this data with others?

Luca Bosco: We cross this data with other measurements that are carried out in the area, in particular with those carried out on the Tanaro River, which you can see just nearby, and the two surveys confirm the same thing, the ubiquitous presence of chemical molecules.

Cristina: Thank you Luca. This story touches all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. And what can we do? Talk with beekeepers as much as possible, understand the critical issues in our area and protect it in any way we can. It pays off for everyone. Occhio al futuro

On air May 22nd, 2021

Mygrants, the first app for migrants

By sdg 1, sdg 10, sdg 11, sdg 4, sdg 8, sdg 9, technology

According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of migrants globally attempting to cross borders continues to grow: in 2000 there were 150 million while in 2020, 272 million. I hadn’t given enough thought to the fact that 90% of migrants landing on Italian shores are digital natives. Very few find work after the time spent in reception centers, but today, thanks to Christian Richmond and the Mygrants app, they can hope for a decent future. It’s a story of perseverance, vision and commitment born from the mind of a young Ivorian man, who was able to create a tool of tremendous human and social value. I’m honored to have met him and spread the word about his important initiative.

Cristina: Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, 10 years ago, about 800,000 migrants have landed in Italy, in search of a dignified life. Many of them have placed their hopes on Europe. 90% are under 35 and technically digital natives, more than half have not attended high school. After about a year and a half in reception centers, very few find work. Today there is a different possible future for them, thanks to the first app developed for migrants, available in 3 languages with more than 8,000 quizzes that assess their ambitions and talents. Good morning Chris, tell us about your wonderful initiative.

Chris Richmond: In 2017, we decided to create this educational platform for migrants and refugees with the aim of fully valuing their prior skills, backgrounds, and talents, ensuring that these skills and talents become assets in the job market.

Cristina: What goals are you setting and what results have you achieved?

Chris Richmond: The goal is certainly to innovate the Italian, European, and international asylum system, making sure that even economic migrants and future climate migrants can move freely from point A to point B in a legal and secure manner. Finding a way to generate more trust between migrants and formal financial actors simply means making migrants creditworthy as well.

Cristina: And how many users do you have?

Chris Richmond: After 4 years we have reached over 100,00 active users on the platform. We have about 20% of users who are not in Italy, and are still in the Middle East, Africa or Southeast Asia; we’ve identified about 15,000 highly qualified profiles and supported the job placement of about 1,900 people.

Cristina: An important percentage but low in proportion to the big picture. Why do you think that is?

Chris Richmond: We didn’t set out with the ambition to do job placement, rather to emphasize skills and talent. Over time, as we analyzed the data, we realized that we could aspire to something more and in early 2018 we decided to start testing job placement. 2018, 2019 and to some extent due to the pandemic job placements were reduced and we are focusing on meeting market demands. Definitely IT and technology, translations and interpreters, definitely mechanics and mechatronics, delivery and logistics and obviously sanitation and personal services so, caregivers.

Cristina: Chris, is there a story you’d like to share with us?

Chris Richmond: There are many, certainly the story of a young Tunisian software engineer who arrived in Italy a couple of years ago, who tried to find job opportunities as a dishwasher, entered the platform and after a few weeks showed all his talent. He had 12 job offers and was able to choose which company to work for. After 3 months of internship he was hired with a long term contract testing industrial plants. This is one of the many stories that we were able to transform from a dream into reality.

Cristina:  Great job, I really wish you all the best and thank you Chris. This project fulfills six of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: 1 zero poverty, 4 quality education, 8 decent work, 9 industry innovation and infrastructure, 10 reducing inequality, e 11 sustainable cities and communitiesOcchio al futuro

On air May 1st 2021

Jeffrey Sachs and Mission 4.7

By sdg 4, technology

Jeffrey Sachs is a guiding star of sustainable development, which is why I wanted to feature him in my weekly segment Occhio al futuro. He’s an esteemed academic, a dynamic promoter of a necessary transition and is President of the United Nation’s SDSN (Sustainable Development Solutions Network). We interviewed him to talk about Mission 4.7 which he launched with the Vatican, Unesco and the Ban-Ki Moon Foundation.

We interviewed him to talk about Mission 4.7 which he launched with the Vatican, Unesco and the Ban-Ki Moon Foundation.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part I

Cristina: Today we’re featuring a mission that might not be spectacular like the one on the moon but it could have the same importance. It’s Mission 4.7 – named after goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda and it’s seventh target: to ensure, by 2030, that all students in the world receive education for sustainable development and global citizenship. It was launched by Pope Francis, which is why we’re on the roof of a church that already produces sola energy, and by Ban-Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General who ratified both the 2030 Agenda and negotiated the Paris Agreement in 2015, also by UNESCO and other organizations. The mission is led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Pelé of sustainability. He was one of the key advisors for the drafting of the 2030 Agenda and is Director of the SDSN – the UN network dedicated to solutions for sustainable development. Professor Sachs, thank you so much for being with us. What was the genesis of this mission?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: We can see everywhere that young people are empowered with the knowledge of our challenges, they really take up the cause and it’s been inspiring to watch young people around the world make the call for sustainable development. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to achieve climate safety. So the basic motivation is to help empower young people.

Cristina: How influential have the Pope and Ban-Ki Moon been in launching this mission?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Pope Francis’ global pact on education, Ban-Ki Moon’s tremendous efforts on global citizenship come together in this inspiration and they are guiding Mission 4.7.

Cristina: In the spectrum of the whole Agenda, how significant is goal 4 and target 7?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: We cannot achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals if we don’t know what we’re doing! If we don’t understand our situation, our reality, our potential to build a sustainable development future. I believe that SDG 4, which is the goal for universal access to quality education, is at the center of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and I believe that target 4.7, which is education about sustainable development itself, and about our ability to cooperate together across cultures and across nations, with global citizenship, is absolutely at the core of achieving the 17 SDGs.

Cristina: Thank you very much, I look forward to talking to you again next week.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Thank you so much.

Cristina: To accomplish this mission requires both thinking and caring. Follow us to understand how to do your part! Occhio al futuro

On air 23/1/21

Part II

Cristina: Our journey to discover Mission 4.7 continues – guaranteeing education on sustainable development and global citizenship for all, by 2030. Professor Sachs, welcome back and thank you very much for being with us. What are the key ingredients of a curriculum that really, fully honors Mission 4.7?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Prosperity, social justice and environmental sustainability are the three pillars of sustainable development. They are, therefor, the pillars of Mission 4.7, we’re aiming to design the kind of future we want, this is the phrase that was used when the Sustainable Development Goals were first adopted: the future we want. So, the curriculum should be empowering, to help young people, to see how we can build a better future, to make our societies more fair, to make our energy systems and industry the way that we treat the rest of nature sustainable, and this involves technical skill, it involves an ethical outlook as well.

Cristina: How can anyone, from teachers to students, members of civil society, governments, participate in this mission?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: I get, everyday, messages from teachers or students. From teachers saying “we’re introducing the SDGs into our local school curriculum, can you help?” and really the answer is yes. Here are some websites to look at, here are some materials, here is a network that you can be part of. Students who are saying “we want to make a youth club” or “our school doesn’t yet teach the sustainable development goals, what can we do?” or “how can I learn?”. SDSN has an SDG Academy of online, free, globally accessible materials in all aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals so that it’s possible to just go online and gain access to really world-class educators and professors and so-forth, who have prepared materials that are freely available. This is an open source, global, interconnected effort. We want all people to be involved, one of the things that we will certainly do is provide a clearing house of information, access and opportunity for networking. For 8 billion people and the still rising global population to be able to manage the needs for healthy diets, safe air, clean environment, cutting pollution, accessing these basic needs for everybody, we’er going to need the new technologies. One key transformations that is vital, in fact, is universal access to digital technologies, so that every person can have access to telemedicine if they need it, to educational materials online, access to government documents, licenses, their rights, their transfers and so forth. I’m very happy to say that Italy has been leading in this effort as well, getting the topics of climate change and environmental sustainability and other aspects of sustainable development into the basic school curriculum. We’re finding that governments al over the world want help on that, want the practicalities of new tools, new curricula, online methods of learning.

Cristina: Thank you. We all have something to learn and to give back to society. Occhio al futuro

On air 6/2/21

Part III

Cristina: We presented Mission 4.7 which brings together heads of government, academics, businesses, and civil society, to accelerate education on sustainable development, worldwide. Today, Professor Sachs is with us again to explain how we can reach this ambitious and necessary goal by 2030.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: We need cooperation at all levels, in communities, within our countries, with our neighboring countries, because neighbors are very important in sharing rivers, in sharing the air, in sharing the fisheries and the coastlines. We need cooperation between regions of the world, between Asia and Europe, Africa, North and South America. All parts of the world need to cooperate. This doesn’t come easily, because there are so many triggers of distrust, even hatred, in our world. There are demagogic politicians who aim to win or keep power or increase their power by professing hate rather than cooperation. But we need cooperation. It is feasible. The beauty of the Sustainable Development Goals is that all 193 governments of the world have agreed to them, same with the Paris Climate Agreement, all 193 UN member states have agreed to them. They are our globally agreed goals. That is a basis in addition to the very reality of them for moving forward in a cooperative way. This is why when governments get together around the world, in periodic meetings about these goals, it’s essential that all come ready to say, here’s how we are cooperating and contributing to what we’ve all agreed to do.

Cristina: How are the efforts being coordinated?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: The Sustainable Development Solutions Network is working together with the rest of the partners, there’s a secretariat which is coordinating with governments and with leading educators around the world to help build a curricula, to help governments and local communities to adopt a curricula and adapt them for local needs, local language, local culture, local priorities in sustainable development. We’re aiming to make a lot of progress in 2021. There are some important global summits that UNESCO will host where governments are to come together to say “this is what we’re going to do”. We’re trying as much as we can to work with governments at the national level, that’s ministers and ministries of education, and with local communities and education experts around the world. And a network of universities of more than 1,000 universities in the SDSN, to bring these ideas to bear as quickly as possible. Time is a real factor here. Mission 4.7 addresses a target that says “by 2030”, that’s just a blink of an eye away. We have to move very, very fast.

Cristina: What is your advice to all Italian stakeholders to make Mission 4.7 a success?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: In Italy we have tremendous engagement of government, of universities, of civil society and of the business sector. So many businesses are stepping forward and saying “we want to be part of the Sustainable Development Goals, we want Italy to help lead”. Italy is a place where there is nationwide energy and action for sustainable development and this is what I would urge Italians in all sectors of society to build upon.

Cristina: Institution have the obligation, today, to educate citizens of all ages for the disruptive changes ahead.  Occhio al futuro

On air 13/2/21

Econyl – regenerated nylon yarn

By ecology, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 15, sdg 16, sdg 4, sdg 6, sdg 7, sdg 8, technology

We know that the textile industry, as a whole, is among the biggest polluters. However, there are those who are turning the tide: Aquafil, with its regenerated nylon yarn Econyl, produces textile fibers from scraps, waste and new materials. Producing positive actions and changes for the economy, society and the environment, along their entire production chain.

Cristina: We know that the textile industry, as a whole, is among the biggest polluters. However, there are those who are turning the tide by producing textile fibers from scraps, waste and new materials.
In this company, the factories are powered 100% by renewable energies and closed cycle water is used in every phase of production. They’ve implemented environmental protocols throughout the supply chain and educational projects for employees and in schools.
Research is carried out on new biomass materials, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced every year, programs to protect the seas are promoted and life cycle analysis are carried out for all products. Together, these actions fulfill 8 of the 17 SDGs – the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For every 10,000 tons of raw material from the recycling process, 70,000 barrels of oil are avoided and the equivalent of 57,100 tons of CO2 are saved.
This is how fishing nets are transformed, along with other nylon waste. In 2018, 78 tons were recovered from NGOs operating throughout Europe. Once cleaned, the nets are chemically transformed, the liquid becomes polymer and the polymer becomes yarn. The result is that more and more yarn comes from a regeneration process. To become carpets, glasses, bags, clothes, swimwear.
Dr. Bonazzi, can you imagine fulfilling the nylon market demand with only recycled and reclaimed materials?

Giulio Bonazzi: No, unfortunately not, even if all nylon could be recovered, it would never be enough to guarantee future needs. In addition, recycling has its own environmental impact, we try to constantly improve it, but it’s important to understand how we recycle and how to minimize impacts during the process.

Cristina: What does it mean for you to innovate? Both as a citizen and as an entrepreneur?

Giulio Bonazzi: For me, innovating means quitting something that’s outdated to do something new. Before recycling you have to reduce raw materials, reuse and then, recycle.

Cristina: Do you already have a new family of materials ready?

Giulio Bonazzi: Yes, we want to produce nylon from renewable sources or from biomass, actually we’ve already produced the first kilos.

Cristina: Could we notice the difference between yarn derived from oil, recycling or biomass?

Giulio Bonazzi: No, the finished products are perfectly identical but the difference in environmental impact is huge.

Cristina: What a fine example of circular economy. Thanks Dr. Bonazzi. Occhio al futuro!

On air January 18, 2020

Mirrorable, the motor rehabilitation platform for kids

By sdg 10, sdg 3, sdg 4, technology

Almost 17 million children worldwide have been diagnosed with childhood cerebral palsy, caused by an injury to the central nervous system. By combining scientific research and technology, Francesca and Roberto created Mirrorable, a motor rehabilitation platform that helps young patients move the damaged parts of the body and stimulate the residual potential.

Cristina: This is the story of a family that was able to transform a devastating experience into an opportunity for millions of children around the world. Francesca and Roberto, only a few days after the birth of their son Mario, discovered that he had suffered a stroke in utero or shortly after birth and that it had affected the right side of his brain.

Francesca Fedeli: In the beginning it was difficult for us to accept the diagnosis and we started looking for doctors, looking for solutions around the world, but above all we studied. In our research, we discovered the mechanism of mirror neurons, the cells that activate both when we make a gesture or grab an object and when we see another person making the same gesture. That’s where we started to find a winning solution for Mario. In fact, he managed to train the left side of his brain to compensate for the right side.

Cristina: Today Francesca and Roberto, these two extraordinary people, help many families improve their quality of life. About 17 million children worldwide have been diagnosed with childhood cerebral palsy, caused by an early injury to the central nervous system. By combining scientific research and technology Francesca and Roberto created a motor rehabilitation platform called Mirrorable, which helps young patients move the damaged parts of their bodies and stimulate the residual potential.

Roberto D’Angelo:Everything changed for us when we understood one very simple thing: that the best way to help our son was to help all the children in the world like him. We had the children develop a rehabilitation process for themselves and the only really important thing for these kids was playing and the ability to learn new motor skills thanks to another child like them with the same conditions. A few years ago it would have been impossible but today, thanks to technology, we can do this directly in their homes. Thanks to artificial intelligence, we were able to create a highly personalized process for the emotions of each individual child so that they can maximize the benefits. To give you an idea, during a month-long course of magic tricks, these children improved their bi-manual skills by an average of 26%. An extraordinary result.

Francesca Fedeli: The results of our summer-long Mirrorable Camp, in the process of being published, were exciting for us because we managed to demonstrate that these children improve not only their bi-manual skills, but also their learning skills, increasing the indicators of overall well-being, both the children’s and their whole family’s.

Cristina: When a problem touches us closely, more than ever we can become part of the solution.

On air February 23, 2019