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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

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

Francesca Santoro and the Decade of Ocean Science

By ecology, sdg 14

Those of you who follow Occhio al futuro know that we are in the Decade of Action to make progress on the 2030 Agenda. But within the macro framework of the 17 goals there’s an entire world, which includes the Decade of Ocean ScienceIn Venice we met Francesca Santoro, program specialist of the IOC, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, which promotes many initiatives. I hope you’ll be curious to find out how many tools we have to learn more about marine ecosystems and how we can do our part to safeguard them, starting with our choices as consumers. When this interview aired, there was a confluence of UN World Days. Not only is June 5th World Environment Day, it’s also the International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, while June 8th is World Oceans Day! We closed our beautiful meeting at Venice’s Rialto fish market.

Cristina: Marine ecosystems are increasingly fragile – they’re in danger and need our attention. That’s why the UN established the Decade of Ocean Science. We’re in Venice to meet UNESCO’s Francesca Santoro and understand how to navigate it. Good morning Francesca, tell us what we need to know about our relationship with the oceans?

Francesca Santoro: One of the simplest things we do, breathing, we owe to the ocean. The ocean produces 50-80% of the oxygen that exists in the atmosphere.

Cristina: What are the key objectives of your program and how will you reach them?

Francesca Santoro: The goal is to inform everyone about the importance of the ocean for our planet and we accomplish this through very practical tools. We produce manuals for schoolteachers: hands-on lessons for the classroom. Then we developed a series of online courses for journalists to teach them how to discuss these issues, but it’s for decision makers as well. Entrepreneurs also need to learn that if they want to be part of the solution they have to understand that everything is interconnected on our planet.

Cristina: And if we want to keep eating fish we need to know how to buy it, shall we head to the market?

Francesca Santoro: Gladly!

Cristina: Francesca how do you choose what fish to buy?

Francesca Santoro: First of all I look at the origin and seasonality because it’s important, people don’t know that there are seasons in the sea. We also see that there is a map.

Cristina: Italy is in FAO area 37.

Francesca Santoro: Here we’re in the Adriatic and it’s the most abundant sea in the Mediterranean, we can definitely rely on what we find in this area. Hi, can you tell me what you would recommend today? I prefer local and seasonal.

Fisherman: Today I would suggest a nice ombrina. Fished with a rod here in the lagoon as you can see, local gallinella, also known as lucerna or there is a hook caught redfish. Everything here is fresh. Or local cuttlefish that is now in season. Fresh cuttlefish from the lagoon. There are customers who have been coming here for years and they trust us fully because, they know what we offer, so they ask “what can I eat today?” and we usually always suggest catch of the day or the season.

Francesca Santoro: Thank you very much! Keep it up.

Cristina: The Decade of Ocean Science touches on SDG 14 life below water, but all the other Sustainable Development Goals as well. Conversations like these can help us make the best choices not only for our plates but for our future. Let’s navigate this Decade of Ocean Science together. Occhio al futuro!

On air June 5th, 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

EcoAllene – recycling poly laminates

By ecology, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 9, technology

EcoAllene is a new and innovative material obtained from the recycling of poly laminates, i.e. formed by a plastic and metal film. In Italy, about 7 billion beverage containers are placed on the market, meaning 150,000 tons of poly laminated waste that can be turned into a resource.

Cristina: This is a circular economy story that comes from a paper mill’s waste. Containers like these are coated with high-quality cellulose that’s recovered, but the interior, a poly blend of plastic and aluminum is discarded, but here it becomes a resource. Stefano, how does your process work?

Stefano Richaud: When we receive the so-called poly-al, the aluminium and plastic fraction from the recycling plants, we put it through a process that starts with a deep wash to eliminate the cellulose still attached to the waste and any other possible pollutants. Then we agglomerate this sort of confetti, turning it into a gravel and we extrude it into these plastic granules which can then be turned into a plastic product.

Cristina: Were you the first to pioneer this innovation? To recycle these poly laminated items?

Stefano Richaud: The process comes from the intuition of an Italian entrepreneur who patented this idea of not separating the plastic and aluminum parts, but keeping them together. Thus transforming waste into a new plastic granule, a so-called secondary raw material.

Cristina: What do you make with it?

Stefano Richaud: We obtain a plastic granule that, supplied to our customers, can be transformed into many everyday objects. Such as household accessories, a broom or a dustpan; construction tools such as hammer handles; stationery: markers, highlighters, pens; or even packaging for the cosmetic and cleaning industries.

Cristina: Not food though…

Stefano Richaud: European legislation does not allow food to come in contact with a recycled product, except for PET, which is monomaterial.

Cristina: So it’s a 100% recycled material but is it also recyclable?

Stefano Richaud: Absolutely. Once it reaches the end of its life, the product made from our granules can be recycled just like a normal plastic material, such as polyethylene.

Cristina: What is the volume of poly laminated waste in Italy? And how much of it can you recycle?

Stefano Richaud: In Italy, 7 billion beverage containers are produced every year, of which the plastic and aluminum portion is about 25%, so with the current level of recycling collection around 60%, there are 120,000 tons of this waste. At the Alessandria plant we handle about a third of what can be recycled in Italy. Clearly, this problem is multiplied in all countries where beverage cartons are widely used. And let’s consider all the other poly laminates formed by paper, plastic and aluminum. Our technology offers a valid solution.

Cristina:  Thank you. Technologies like this are examples of excellence in Europe and around the world. Let’s be proud of them. But now we must also innovate the supply chain. Occhio al futuro

On air March 13th 2021

The AWorld app, because there’s no planet B

By ecology, technology

Chosen by the United Nations for the #ACTNOW campaign to reach the 17 Sustainable Development GoalsAWorld is an app to guide users in adopting more sustainable lifestyles through everyday actions and challenges.

Cristina: Today we came to Torino to meet Alessandro Armillotta, he and his team have developed an app to measure our environmental impact and it’s been recognized officially by the UN for the #ACTNOW campaign. So how did that happen?

Alessandro Armillotta: So, at first we felt the need to take action, we understood that the climate crisis is hitting us everywhere. And with this urgency, we went straight to New York to show what we had in mind. We were developing this app, we felt there was strong need for it when knocking on the doors of who makes the sustainability guidelines, which is the UN. We met them at the 2019 Climate Week, I went networking and spoke to everyone, luckily enough I met someone at the communications office at the Secretariat. Our idea and our vision was so strong and we were so passionate about this that they felt there was a chance of collaborating on this project, so they opened the doors to us and officially invited us to support their #ACTNOW Campaign, the campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability. And, together, we built this app which is AWorld in support of ACT NOW.

Cristina: That can be really encouraging for young people who have great ideas and they don’t know how to scale them. How do you measure the impact of daily actions?

Alessandro Armillotta: Well, first we wanted to change and shake things up, we decided not to calculate your carbon footprint, so in a negative way, we decided instead to calculate your savings. So suggesting easier actions that give you savings in terms of CO2, water and energy. Then we actually worked closely with the UN office UNFCCC and calculated on average how much your savings are on a daily basis by doing one of these actions. So let’s make an example, I’ll suggest to you Cristina – why not take a 5 minute shower instead of a 10 minute shower? Well, the app will tell you that by taking a 5 minute shower, you’ll be saving up to 47 litres of water on a daily basis. It’s important to show you these 47 litres of water, because if you can measure it, you can actually improve it.

Cristina: I’m with you on that, in fact my showers are 3 minutes long!

Alessandro Armillotta: Perfect!

Cristina: So in a few months you’ve had an impact already, what have your results been so far and what are your goals?

Alessandro Armillotta: We actually launched at the end of September [2020], up to today we are 40,000 very happy users. And active! We received a ton of feedback, we actually reached, all together, over a million logged habits around the world. So the app is open and free to everyone and I strongly encourage you to use it.

Cristina: Great job and good luck on this!

Alessandro Armillotta: Thank you!

Covid-19: A Conversation with Frank Snowden

By ecology, features

Yale Professor Emeritus Frank Snowden has a profound understanding of the topic which he illustrates in great depth in his last book Society and Pandemics and more concisely in the compelling conversation that I moderated, organized by the NYU Club of Italy in collaboration with the Yale Club of Italy.
“Epidemics are not random events,” explained Professor Snowden “they give warnings.” How do we activate preparedness at all levels of society? And how is Covid-19 shaping our times?

Frank Snowden attended Harvard University, and obtained his doctorate at Oxford. He taught for forty-five years at London and Yale Universities, and is now Andrew Downey Orrick Professor Emeritus of History and History of Medicine. His major publications relating to epidemic diseases are: Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present; The Conquest of Malaria: Italy, 1900-1962; and Naples in the Time of Cholera, 1884-1911. His current research includes a study on the origins of Covid-19, and the lack of preparedness to face it.

Understanding Sustainability – For what it’s earth Series

By ecology

I was honored to be interviewed by Haaziq Kazi, a brilliant teenager from Pune, India, who I met on stage at the international food summit Seeds&Chips in Milan in 2019 where he presented the prototype of a ship he designed to clean plastic from our oceans. His mission is to raise awareness on what we can do to protect our environment and his new project with the Ervis Foundation is to widen the conversation and connect like-minded people in the #forwhatitsearth series. We can only be humbled by the calling of such an inspired and dedicated teenager. Thank you Ervis Foundation and Haaziq for building bridges and motivating people to take action.

Biova – beer from circular economy

By ecology

Inspired by the Egyptians and motivated to make a positive impact, Franco Dipietro and his collaborators hit a home run: they use unsold bread to brew a delicious beer and in Italy there truly is a lot, every day. To turn an idea into reality, you need an entrepreneurial approach, accurate knowledge of the laws and an organized supply chain. They did it. We can’t wait to find Biova throughout Italy and to appreciate 20 different flavours, one for each region.

Cristina: By volunteering to recover leftover food for the needy, a group of young people experienced the problem of waste firsthand, bread in particular, which, every day, in Italy, amounts to 1,300 tons. Hence the idea of ​​transforming it. We came to Turin to tell their story. Franco, what do you do with the bread?

Franco Dipietro: We recover the unsold bread at the end of the day and turn it into beer, 150kg of bread become 2,500 liters of craft beer. This is our way of giving new value to something that would otherwise be waste.

Cristina: How do you collect it?

Franco Dipietro: We’ve developed our own protocol: we recover it at the end of the day before it legally becomes waste. We take it to centers built specifically to treat it, where we dry it, grind it and turn it into a new ingredient. In this case, to replace barley malt to make new beer. Not only are we recovering something unsold, we’re saving on the use of a raw material, up to 30% and even up to 50% with new recipes that we’re developing.

Cristina: Do you think you can produce all over Italy?

Franco Dipietro: It is a possible supply chain, we’ve studied a model that allows us to replicate it throughout Italy. We always try to have our centers near existing breweries, so only our recipes travel. This way we can limit emissions and related costs.

Cristina: Do you always ferment locally?

Franco Dipietro: Exactly, in the past few years breweries have increased throughout Italy, and they also work for third parties. So we can go “cook” the bread in various places.

Cristina: So each region will have its own flavor…

Franco Dipietro: It’s very interesting because clearly the bread gives a characteristic taste to the beer, therefore according to the regionality of the bread, the taste of the beer changes. This is also a lot of fun to try.

Cristina: This was a lifestyle change for you.

Franco Dipietro: Absolutely, we realized that bread is a very difficult problem to manage. It costs very little and the surplus is too abundant to be redistributed. In Italy, almost two whole soccer fields of bread are wasted every day, so reducing food waste is definitely a way to guarantee a more sustainable future.

Cristina: This circular economy project fulfills SDGs 12 and 13. Let’s celebrate this beautiful solution to reduce food waste with a nice toast! Occhio al futuro

On air June 20, 2020

Gamindo – How to donate by gaming

By technology

How can you turn time into money? Nicolò Santin and a group of young Italians found a winning formula for using games as fundraising tools. By designing video games for companies, who want to support non-profit organizations as a CSR activity and by letting the gamers choose where to donate, the creators of Gamindo implemented a positive cycle.
Gamindo launched its app in February 2020 with 5,000 users and now there are more than 15,000, who can choose from 12 games to support 22 non-profit organizations.

Cristina: Playing, today we’ll make donations to nonprofit organizations without spending a euro from our pockets, thanks to a new video game platform, which converts time into money. Hello Nicolò, how many and what kind of games have you developed?

Nicolò Santin: Over 10 games of logic, memory, running and adventure. We’re focusing a lot on educational games also in relation to Covid and the SDGs.

Cristina: How do donations work?

Nicolò Santin: Donations are possible thanks to the companies on the platform. They commission the games and thanks to the budgets they set aside, people can make donations by assigning the “gems” they receive while they play.

Cristina: It also guarantees you economic sustainability because you’re still a startup, right?

Nicolò Santin: Absolutely. The development of the game guarantees us economic sustainability but the platform’s mission is to allow anyone to donate by playing. It has a social and an environmental impact too.

Cristina: It’s an excellent CSR tool for companies. How many and what kind of associations are you supporting?

Nicolò Santin: We have already supported over 20 NGOs, from Buzzi Hospital to EMERGENCY and Plant for the Planet, with whom we planted over 100 trees on Earth Day, and it was possible thanks to the users and to their matches, who chose who to donate their gems to. This all means a lot to us. We donated 1,000 euros to the Buzzi Children’s Hospital in Milan and Antonella will tell us more.

Antonella: It was a pleasure to collaborate and thanks to Oggy’s video game our OBM Onlus improved hospitality for the families.

Cristina: What is the average age of your players?

Nicolò Santin: 25-30 years old.

Cristina: So old?

Nicolò Santin: Yes, people believe that gamers are teenagers, locked in their rooms, while actually the average age of gamers in Italy is 34.

Cristina: Thanks Nicolò. In recent weeks, the WHO launched the #PlayApartTogether initiative. Video games are estimated to be the favorite entertainment for 2.3 billion people worldwide and this story proves that there can be an important social and therapeutic value as well. This platform fulfills SDGs 8, 9, 11, and 13. Occhio al futuro

On air May 30, 2020