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Health and wellbeing are the fundamental pillars on which human beings build their personal and working lives and would have the opportunity to find them everywhere if every building were constructed according to the principles of bioclimatic architecture. But unfortunately, this is not yet the case.
The current pandemic has also transformed, disrupted and profoundly revolutionized the existence of each of us both at home and in the way we work. At present, the only weapon at our disposal is the social distance, as this virus is extremely contagious. For this reason, the work has undergone an unexpected evolution, as it has been abrupt in the digitization of its processes. Meetings in the office have turned into appointments on the leading online meeting networks with the glances aimed at the webcams of our computers while we are sitting safely inside our homes.
Houses or apartments that, however, in most examples, are not proving to be suitable and sustainable for an ongoing life within the four walls. Let's say "bio-incompatible".
Surely this situation is also proving to be an incredible opportunity for many working realities that are considering keeping the post COVID-19 smart working operational. Those who can work at the computer also have the social responsibility to leave the roads and means of transport to those who do manual and therefore compulsory live work. This decision applied 100% or at least integrated will also help the entire ecosystem not to find itself polluted again as if this stop was useless.
During phase 2 as well as in the following periods, various work areas will gradually be reactivated, and their locations will be populated again. This awareness makes it possible to make some reflections on health and wellbeing so as not to be caught unprepared in the workplace. The central theme in this situation is how to make workers feel safe when they return to their sites. And in addition to this also how to ensure that the environments can be healthy and maintained as those that bio-architecture can create thanks to its attention to the health of the human being.
The perception of safety and wellbeing is a very delicate issue to deal with, as it is extremely subjective. However, when faced with real evidence, the man finds comfort and benefit as well as when he feels in psycho-physical balance with the environment around him. For this reason, workplaces can be the subject of investigation processes, modifications to installations to increase energy efficiency and to environments that guarantee safety in the health and psychological field. It is essential that all the solutions that will be found are the result of work carried out by professional architects specialized in bio-architecture. They will be able to manage each place as a complete ecosystem. Air, water, light and surfaces will be the fundamental elements to update, modify, maintain and use for a healthy, efficient and sustainable working life.
There are already certifications such as LEED and WELL that allow certifying bodies to verify every element of the buildings, as well as the good practices, followed inside to define a green building. This would undoubtedly give the guarantee to workers to consider their workplace safe. But even in non-certified buildings, many activities can be implemented to guarantee indoor healthiness. Some of the main ones are:
- maintenance of ventilation systems and scheduled replacement of filters;
- equipping the building with filtering and osmosis systems for running water;
- updating of the cleaning protocols of the environments (increase cleaning cycles and use of products free of harmful chemical substances;
- redistribution of work shifts to ensure a safe distance between people and the use of the connecting spaces without assembly;
- inclusion of indoor greenery as it represents a real additional air purification system as well as an instrument of psychological wellbeing.
All these elements are based on the principles of bioclimatic design, i.e. the need to consider each place as a man-environment system in which all the parts must be calibrated with each other. This approach considers space as a real organism that today more than ever, we need to take care of every day.

Photo credits: Free-Photos by Pixabay

 

This question presents itself as a paradox that will turn the nose up at entrepreneurs in the sector as well as environmentalists. The tourism sector, as is well known, is among those who are suffering the most severe economic and managerial consequences of the epidemic and who will suffer most even at the end of the current health emergency. On the other hand, as is well known, cruise ships are often accused of being the leading cause of air pollution, as well as of various environmental disasters at sea.

The air quality indexes these days, as well as the rediscovered clarity of certain waters, show how, in fact, the environment is benefiting from the sector's halt. Between the two terms of the initial question, there seems to be the paradigm "Mors tua, vita mea"; therefore it is difficult to think that the resumption of navigation can coexist with some benefit for the environment.

These are the terms of the issue that is animating the political and economic debate in the United States.

These days the news of the extension of the No-Sail Order, implemented on 14 March by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (i.e. CDC), for at least another hundred days and until the coronavirus no longer constitutes a public health emergency. The extension of the measure, which requires all cruise ships to stop sailing, involving about 100 boats and 80,000 crew members remaining on board, will result in economic damage of $92 million for each day of suspension. These are the estimates published in a document by Clia (i.e. the International Association of Cruise Companies) which also analyses the impact on the world of work and the widespread induced activities of the entire sector. Even at the end of the health emergency, cruise lines will feel the psychological conditioning of passengers, suspicious and reluctant, also in light of what happened on the Diamond Princess. It is no coincidence that Carnival Corporation, owner of the Princess Cruises brand, has seen its shares fall by 80% since the January peak. The financial rescue of the cruise industry was, therefore, a topic of discussion for the US Government. The hypothesis of a package of measures to stimulate the economy of the cruise industry has provoked mixed reactions from many quarters. On the one hand, the Democrats pointed out that the giants of the sector, whose headquarters are in Miami, do not pay taxes in the United States, having registered ships outside the borders. On the other hand, environmental associations have recalled the ecological disasters caused by some cruise companies, forced to pay multi-million dollar fines for this.

The environmental associations proposed that economic aid to the cruise companies should depend on certain conditions, including tax obligations and environmental protection actions, to be implemented by the beneficiary companies. These requests, listed in a letter sent to the US Senate, signed by Stand.earth, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, are:

  • Ban the use of fuel oil and ensure that ships switch to low-sulphur distillate fuels, such as marine diesel. These, combined with particulate filters that retain soot, could reduce black ship smoke by up to 90% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Prohibit the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS or scrubbers) which generate vast volumes of acid spilt into the water and also contain carcinogenic substances.
  • Obligation to connect to the shore power supply during mooring. This prevents the combustion and emission of exhaust gases to adjacent communities.
  • Reduce greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide by 2030 and achieve full decarbonisation by 2050.
  • Establish mandatory monitoring, verification and public reporting of annual fuel and greenhouse gas consumption and emissions of CO2, methane and black carbon, as well as other pollutants harmful to health.
  • Meet all water quality standards at the point of discharge by installing advanced wastewater treatment systems for greywater on ships.
  • Provide for inspections on board with personnel responsible for verifying the standards.
  • Establish an insurance fund for local communities, public health and the environment that have suffered damage due to the activities of the cruise industry.

As the coronavirus epidemic ends, cruises will resume. However, companies will have to work hard to convince the most sceptical travellers that ships are safe for the health of passengers and the environment. For them to succeed and reap long-term benefits, optimistic advertising campaigns and attractive market offers will not be enough. In this sense, the conditions set by environmentalists are an essential opportunity.

Here is the question then - Can the Coronavirus be an advantageous opportunity for both the cruise industry and the environment? - finds its answer.

 

Photo credits: LUM3N; Fachdozent; cocoparisienne

 

The concept of "sustainability" in the fashion world is a much-debated topic. Both designers and big brands are trying to reflect the growing demand from consumers for more attention to the environment. Very often, however, as if it were "one last trend to follow", what we see are just high-sounding slogans with eye-catching graphics but nothing more. When we learn about sustainability, we realize that having a "zero emissions" show or a "green" collection is not enough and that what is needed to make the fashion world genuinely sustainable is much more than that.

The search for sustainability is, in fact, a vast, complex and increasingly urgent task. Radical and immediate transformation measures are required that affect both the product and the production processFortunately, we are finding that more and more clothing companies are transforming their business models and changing their production and supply chain for the better to reduce the environmental impact generated by their workThis process is also part of a much broader change that is taking place within the entire textile industry, which is increasingly experiencing sustainable production processes. All this is possible thanks to consumers who are becoming increasingly demanding. The growing awareness of people occurs at every level of society and age, even though young people are the most attentive and sensitive to sustainability issues.

To monitor the fashion supply chain, there is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the international certification for organic textiles that have recently processed some data to support this thesis. GOTS has highlighted that last year saw the highest growth in certification operations ever. The research found that in 2019 the number of organic plants certified by the body grew by 35%, with a total of 7,765 suppliers in 70 countries around the world, compared to 5,760 in 2018. In particular, the most significant increase in the number of organic plants was found in Europe, India and BangladeshAn essential aspect to consider concerns the parameters to be respected to be certified by GOTS as an organic plant. It is necessary to pass strict tests where each procedure and processing method respects the high standards of certification. These must ensure that no synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers have been used for organic products and that they have not been grown with genetically modified plants. It must be remembered that applying a sustainable agricultural supply chain is always the best choice as it also helps to protect and strengthen the biodiversity of the environment without risk of soil pollution, thus avoiding contamination of the land and the entire ecosystem.

Moreover, organic farming represents the best choice to be oriented towards as it plays a fundamental role in achieving at least 8 of the 17 SDGs of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.  These include Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3), Drinking Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12), Climate Action (SDG 13), Life Under Water (SDG 14) and Life on Earth (SDG 15).

Fashion, therefore, cannot close its eyes to the future of the planet and all the strategies it will promote for more environmentally, socially and ethically friendly production and consumption will be fundamental to develop more and more sustainability in the fashion supply chain.

 

TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA: the sustainable redevelopment of a dismissed industrial complex in St Clair Lake National Park, one of the most attractive UNESCO World Heritage sites, transforms them into a haven for lovers of wild and unspoilt nature.

The unique feature of this landscape reserve, which distinguishes it within the exceptional panorama of World Heritage Sites, is the fact that it is one of only two in the world to meet seven out of ten criteria for this status. Above all, it is the site of a changing geological process and of vegetation and animals of extraordinary rarity.

Within this unique setting, a power station was built in 1940 to pump water from the lake into the lagoon to power the Tarraleah power station. The hydroelectric project consisted of two buildings. The Pumphouse, a three-storey structure for pumping turbines located inside the lake more than 250 meters from the shore and connected to it by a narrow walkway, and the Shorehouse near the coast that housed the offices and maintenance workshop. The programme was never completed, the buildings were abandoned for over twenty years, until their recent renovation.

The main objective of the new project is the protection of the natural environment and the existing historical buildings, applied thanks to the transformation of UNESCO constraints into pillars of the whole process: sustainability, use of local raw materials and minimum impact on the site.

In line with these values, the exteriors of the Art Deco buildings have been kept intact to fully preserve their character, in contrast to the distinctly contemporary and minimalist interiors that do not attract the attention of the guests but focus them to the surrounding landscape.

Another condition imposed was the limited economic availability, which together with the problem of access to the place and the consequent difficulty of movement, prompted the designers to devise prefabricated structural solutions and dry systems based on the use of local materials. This method created a more straightforward system for the supply of raw materials and considerable ease of implementation thanks to the simplified assembly of standardised parts, which significantly reduced the construction process.

The neutrality of wood provides a robust and at the same time acoustically efficient load-bearing structure, that given the high performance required by the hotel function to ensure adequate comfort for suite guests.

Photographs: Stuart Gibson, Adam Gibson, Sharyn Cairns

"SHARED RESPONSIBILITY, GLOBAL SOLIDARITY: RESPONDING TO THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF COVID-19", this is the title of the UN report on long-term impacts generated by the COVID-19 emergency. The study, presented by Secretary-General António Guterres at the end of March, highlights the severe socio-economic implications of the current epidemic and calls on the United Nations to implement cooperation policies to mitigate its effects.

The report describes the speed with which the epidemic spread, which was later declared a pandemic by the WHO. It highlights on a map the level of preparedness of the different countries to deal with such a major health emergency. The UN, therefore, sets the first objective: to suppress transmission to stop the pandemic and save lives, pledging to support governments around the World to act decisively and cohesively.

It is essential and urgent - the report says - to increase the resilience of health systems, to provide support to developing countries whose health systems are weaker, to remove obstacles and facilitate access to research results so that vaccines and medicines are accessible to all, to involve businesses and charities around the World so that they take up the challenge and win this battle together.

The report focuses on the analysis of the multidimensional impacts of the epidemic, providing worrying data on the socio-economic phenomena triggered by the spread of the virus such as unemployment, the psychological consequences of forced isolation, the inability of some educational systems to respond adequately to school closures, the stoppage of manufacturing industry and the instability of financial markets.

The impacts, which are already significant for all, risk being devastating for developing countries whose microeconomies were already fragile before the health crisis. The pandemic risks reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty, exacerbating the inequalities already marked within and between countries.

What about Agenda 2030 on sustainable development objectives and the Paris Agreement on climate change?

The COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a profound and negative effect on the efforts made so far to fulfil the promise of the SDGs (i.e. Sustainable Development Goals) by 2030. The protracted global economic slowdown has inevitable consequences that, directly or indirectly, affect all seventeen sustainable development goals. Equity is severely undermined as the most vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly and non-regular workers, are the most affected.

The impact on the environment, on the other hand, is probably positive in the short term, since the drastic reduction in economic activity caused by the crisis has reduced CO2 emissions and pollution in many areas. But these improvements are bound to be short-lived if countries do not maintain their commitment to sustainable development once the crisis is over and the global economy recovers. The pandemic is forcing countries to use a large part of their financial resources to respond to the emergency, so the risk that investments in sustainable development strategies aimed at achieving the 17 SDGs disappear is concrete. For this reason, the UN calls on states to take sustainable development goals and climate commitments into account when developing their responses to the crisis.

It is time to choose whether to return to the World we knew before or to seize this moment of global crisis as an opportunity to take a decisive step towards solving the problems that make us all more vulnerable. The course indicated by the UN is unequivocal: we must resist the temptation to take protectionist measures and act in a timely and cohesive manner.

"A humanitarian crisis requires coordinated action", said Guterres, "we need maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people. The goal must be to live on a healthier planet, to keep the promise of Agenda 2030 and the 17 SDGs".

 

Source: https://unsdg.un.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/SG-Report-Socio-Economic-Impact-of-Covid19.pdf

Travelling is like dreaming: the difference is that not everyone, when waking up, remembers something, while everyone keeps warm the memory of the destination from which he returned. So wrote Edgar Allan Poe when the journey was still a dream to be lived as soon as possible in the collective imagination.

Travelling has always been synonymous with freedom and discovery of the outside world but also of the inside.

Nowadays, the lightness and light-heartedness with which one thought of merely leaving home have been replaced by the feeling of fear and uncertainty.

The Coronavirus is generating day after day, an exponential crisis that in addition to affecting the health sector, has also overwhelmed the tourism industry, having enormous impacts that will change this sector for a long time.

The most disarming aspect is that at the moment, it is still complicated to imagine when we will be able to start travelling again and how we will change the way we go.

For the current COVID-19 crisis, there are no rules, and for this reason, it is not possible to give the right answer to these questions because the reality is constantly changing.

Moreover, the global scale of this coronavirus pandemic makes it continuously expanding.

In a recent article by the World Economic Forum, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) considered that this pandemic could generate 50 million jobs worldwide in the tourism and travel sector and identified Asia as the country that should be most affected.

The magnitude of the impact, however, must be remembered that it will depend primarily on the duration of the epidemic in the world because of the conditions for the spread of the virus were to worsen further, and the containment measures were to be tightened, the consequences would be even more severe.

"The equivalent of a loss of three months of global travel in 2020 could lead to a corresponding reduction in jobs of between 12% and 14%," the WTTC also said.

But an important point to remember is that people will continue to want to travel, and this drive is likely to be even stronger after these restrictions. The only real and fundamental constraint will be fear for one's health and that of others. And this thought leads us to understand that people will undoubtedly be much more cautious; they will need to understand but also to see in a tangible way what will be done for their safety. Both transport companies and accommodation facilities will need to rethink their travel and accommodation policies in a substantial and above all credible way.

When the recovery from this crisis is achieved, it will be important that all tourism operators in the sector share some practical principles that can help the entire tourism industry.

This "new normality" will have to include changes of all kinds, from hygiene measures and practices to new travel arrangements. Some concrete examples could be:

- when making reservations, both for travel and accommodation, there could be more flexible and exemptions for cancellation or re-booking;

- air flights could be rethought in passenger numbers to avoid overcrowding, as well as for trains and coaches;

- to bring tourists closer to the cruise world so severely damaged, they could become cheaper, and the companies building them could reconfigure the design of the cruise ships currently under construction to have larger cabins and reorganise the common areas by increasing the distance between people;

- to be able to transmit safety and control of the healthiness of tourist places and means of transport, the way of monitoring and cleaning the environments with which tourists will interact and also clear and correct communication will have to be changed;

- business travel could be encouraged to stimulate the recovery of airlines;

- besides, there will be an incredible opportunity to solve in a serious, scientific and at this point inevitable way all the issues related to sustainable travel in respect of the environment.

This last point allows addressing the concept of overturism, which is a term that has been coined to describe the exact moment when tourism, instead of bringing positive effects, generates extremely adverse effects wherever it occurs in the world. Overturism can be related to the concept of overcrowding, people or means. I believe that nowadays, it is entirely pointless to point out how overcrowding can lead to devastating consequences for both human health and the environment.

Sustainability is about human beings acting in a balanced way in the context in which they live and move. Consequently, even his "momentary" action as a tourist brings with it a sometimes indelible imprint of his passage. A single man will, therefore, be a bearer of change and all the more so will an entire community.

Since the tourism industry will have as a priority objective to regain its position and its business, it will undoubtedly have to face the recovery with a collective and shared approach among the countries of the world so that it can be mutually coordinated and advantageous with a thank you from the entire natural ecosystem if it is done with the right mix between economy and sustainability.

 

The extreme simplicity of the materials and the pure compositional skill of Boro's creations, born thanks to Japanese farmers since the 19th century, are the star of the exhibition organized for the first time in the United States in the city of New York. The main topic of this new Japan Society exhibition "Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics" is to show through Boro textile a highly topical theme that raises crucial questions about sustainability, pollution and reuse in the fashion and design sector.

In this spirit, it invites visitors to rediscover some of the principles of Japanese ethics and aesthetics: the prevention of waste and the enhancement of unique imperfections.

 

Boro Sashiko - courtesy of Stephen Szczepanek Collection

 

 

The literal translation of this term refers to rags or shreds. It defines an ancient weaving technique based on the reuse of waste materials from discarded garments and their progressive layering. Boro was the form of survival in this inhospitable land, characterized by a harsh climate and minimal resources. Given the impossibility of growing cotton due to the low temperatures, rough hemp cloths were the primary material of all clothing, from children's to work clothes. The holes were patched up by sewing layer upon different layers of fabric, often interspersed with hemp fluff to obtain a material that was not only more resistant, but also warmer and warmer.

These two factors imposed by the region's harsh climate, namely the urgent need to obtain a warm garment combined with the scarcity of raw materials, gave rise to a weaving technique capable of creating pure and straightforward products of entirely natural origin and therefore non-toxic in every detail.

 

Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection

 

Careful use of resources, their continuous recovery within a circular process and the consequent elimination of waste are the pillars on which is based an approach based on sustainability, now unfortunately abandoned all over the world linked to fashion. This loss is causing severe damage to the environment. The latest figures published by the United Nations show that manufacturing industry is the cause of more than 10% of global CO2 emissions and 20% of water pollution, together with the production of around 92 million tonnes of landfill waste per year.

 

Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection

 

Therefore, there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift that recovers the ancient techniques in favour of an ethic production similar to that of Japanese boron fabrics: original, functional and sustainable.

 

©Kyoichi Tsuzuki, courtesy of the artist and Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection

 

 Lead image: ©Kyoichi Tsuzuki, courtesy of the artist and Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection

 

 

Today, when we talk about "sustainability" and "green", we have the impression that we are dealing with words that have become fashionable as nouns or adjectives that must be included in a press release or on a website to keep up to date with the environmental issues of recent years.

But fortunately "sustainability" is much more than just a fad. 

Sustainability is everything that relates in a balanced way towards the environment and the person, not altering but improving their state of well-being and health. It is inherent in this term the concept of balance that should be found in every area in which man lives and works.

Sustainability today, if applied consciously and correctly, would allow having a healthier planet Earth in respect of renewable resources and improvement of the problems generated by climate change, thus managing to recover the entire ecosystem.

For this reason, every person and every company should take responsibility for actively contributing to its impact on the environment and today, companies, in particular, are mainly in the spotlight from this point of view.

Until not so long ago, the problem companies had was to consider sustainability as a non-financial risk in which it was not convenient to invest because it was not found to be profitable for the company's profits.

Nowadays, however, sustainability has primarily become part of the financial world. For this reason, many companies have started to invest resources to communicate with others all the efforts in terms of sustainability and the results achieved in a green perspective.

This has been possible, thanks to the birth of the sustainability report that every company is required to produce every year. Not only is it useful as an indicator of what the company is doing to work sustainably, but it also generates real benefits both internally and externally that directly affect their financial statements.

The ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) exists to indicate all activities related to sustainable and responsible investment in the economic/financial field. The ESG takes into account environmental, social and governance aspects and consists of essential criteria to judge the sustainability of a company's investments.

To go deeper into this topic, we have summarized the five most essential ESG frameworks to understand their origin, who is involved in this new type of reporting, and what their aims are.

 

GRI

The GRI is the Global Reporting Initiative, a non-profit organization that was created as a tool for reporting the sustainable performance of any organization with no size, category or country limits in the world. It was founded in 1997 in Boston by Robert Massie, the executive director of the Coalition For Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and Allen White, CEO of Tellus Institute.

The aim was to develop an accounting system for environmental reporting according to the principles of socially responsible conduct. Initially born as a GRI project department that had as its target audience only investors, it then became a real executive committee for the development of the Guidelines, thus becoming an entity with a multidimensional approach thanks to the extension of the scope of reporting also to the social, economic and environmental dimensions.

 

CDP

The CDP is the Carbon Disclosure Project, an international non-profit organization that provides governments, investors, businesses and global authorities with a universal system of environmental reporting and measurement. It was founded in 2000 by Paul Dickinson, and its initial idea was that if companies considered risk management and environmental reporting as the central and fundamental part of their responsibility, capital markets would be transformed in favour of the environment.

To measure, manage and share all climate change information internationally, four programs supported by CDP were established: Climate Change Program, Water Program, Forests Program and Supply Chain Program and the Cities, States and Regions Program.

The CDP currently supports 525 institutional investors with $96 trillion in assets and continues to provide incentives for all companies to decrease and eliminate their negative impact on the environment.

 

SASB

The SASB is the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by Jean Rogers. This Accounting Standards Board sets the standards for financial reporting for the development of sustainability. In particular, it aims to facilitate comparison and benchmarking in sustainability reports. To provide a useful tool, it has developed the SICS ®, namely the Sustainable Industry Classification System applicable to eleven sectors and 77 types of industries. The SICS groups companies in different factors differentiated according to the risks and opportunities for sustainability shared.

Also, SASB has created an advisory service for investors (IAG) as they have a crucial role in improving the effectiveness of sharing information produced by companies that disclose performance on ESG factors, thus being able to participate in the development of useful, qualitatively functional and comparable information standards.

 

TCFD

The TCFD is the task force on climate-related financial disclosures. It was established in 2015 following the G20. It was founded at the end of that year by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), which is the body that promotes and monitors the stability of the global financial system.

Michael R. Bloomberg was electro president and was composed of 32 experts from the financial and manufacturing sectors. The objective of this task force is to develop all relevant recommendations on climate change risk reporting. In this way, it is intended to be a guide for companies to align the information disclosed with the needs of investors.

In 2017, the TCFD published a Final Report with four areas such as governance, strategy, risk management, metrics and targets and 11 recommendations that were endorsed by some 240 organizations from around the world.

 

 WDI

The WDI is the Workforce Disclosure Initiative, an initiative born from the need to help institutional investors to access all the important data on the management of the work carried out by company personnel.

It was created at the end of 2016 by the British non-profit responsible investment association called ShareAction. Its operation is based on the logic of the CDP model, but WDI collects data from companies both on how they manage their direct employees and on all the people working in their entire supply chain.

In the particular historical moment, we are experiencing, due to the recent COVID-19 epidemic, which has brought to light the vulnerability of our supply-chain and the inadequacy of our consumption habits, shortening the supply chain of agri-food products would be very necessary for the creation of more resilient local communities.

A recent study by the University of Sheffield has outlined a possible scenario; it calculates how much fruit and vegetables the town would produce from the conversion of its urban greenery.

Sheffield has a green area of 10,600 hectares, equal to 45% of its total extension. Part of this is already devoted to allotments, while the rest, consisting of 40% private gardens and 15% parks and street greenery, according to the study of British researchers could be used for the cultivation of food.

If Sheffield were to choose to cultivate all this available land - i.e. all the gardens, parks and roadside greenery - there would be enough space to devote 98 square metres of land per resident to the daily production of fruit and vegetables. To understand the scale, consider that the UK's agri-food sector currently has a per capita area ratio of 23 square metres, which still covers the country's fruit and vegetable needs. This means that the conversion of all of Sheffield's potentially suitable green areas would be enough to feed 709,000 people, well over 518,000 of the city's population.

However, it is unrealistic to think of turning all the private gardens into vegetable gardens, as well as depriving the city of public parks. For this reason, researchers in Sheffield have also developed a more conservative estimate that, considering the conversion of only 10% of the suitable areas, would produce enough fruit and vegetables to cover the needs of 87,375 people.

The study, recently published in Nature Food, also highlighted the availability of areas suitable for cultivation on the roofs of Sheffield. They are about 32 hectares, which could host greenhouses with thermo-hygrometric conditions to grow high-density, such as tomatoes, currently almost entirely imported from other countries.

Considering that only 16% of fruit and 53% of vegetables in the UK are grown locally, the role that cities can play in making food supply more sustainable becomes even more evident. The case of Sheffield can be extended to the whole country, as it is representative of all urban areas in the UK in terms of the green area that can be grown.

By projecting the results of this study to other cities, considering the presence of buildings potentially suitable for hydroponics, the principle of fruit and vegetable producing cities takes on global validity.

 

Source: https://anthropocenemagazine.org/2020/04/researchers-calculated-how-much-food-urban-green-spaces-could-produce/

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on human health and the economy are intensifying day by day, including aspects not yet adequately in the spotlight. These include the emergency of household medical waste.

In Italy, waste management in hospitals is regulated by Presidential Decree 254/2003 (G.U. 211/2003), mainly addressed to Healthcare Facilities, which is the implementing regulation of Legislative Decree 22/1997. But with the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, the safe management of household waste has also become a critical aspect. Medical waste such as contaminated masks, gloves, used or expired medicines, and other objects can easily mix with household garbage. At the same time, it must be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of separately. These must be stored separately from other household waste streams and collected by specialized waste management or municipal waste management operators. Guidelines on recycling specificities disposal of such waste are detailed in the Factsheet of the Basel Convention on Medical or Medical Waste.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous waste and other wastes. It is almost universal, with 187 parties.

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, or SAB Secretariat, assists the three main multilateral environmental agreements governing chemicals and hazardous waste.  SAB Executive Secretary Rolph Payet said, "All sectors of society are coming together to defeat the virus collectively and to minimize the human and economic impact of COVID-19 worldwide. In addressing this enormous, unprecedented challenge, decision-makers at all levels - international, national, municipal, city and district - are urged to make every effort to ensure that waste management, including medical and household waste, receives the attention - indeed the priority - it requires. It is essential to ensure the impact minimization of these potentially hazardous waste streams on human health and the environment.

Parties to the Basel Convention are currently working on a guidance document in this regard and, although not yet finalized, a first draft can be found at:  http://www.basel.int/?tabid=8227 .

On 25 March 2020, all pressure groups in the European automotive industry - including manufacturers, suppliers, tyre manufacturers and retailers - signed a message to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that calls for a relaxation of CO2 targets for cars.

The request highlights the significant challenges posed by an unprecedented global health crisis and explicitly calls for a postponement of CO2 and safety laws.

The law on CO2 emissions from cars is the EU's most important policy to reduce the growing climate impact caused by cars, which account for 14% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of road transport emissions. The first significant target, after years of increasing CO2 emissions and the lack of electric car models on the market, started on 1 January 2020: 95% of all new car sales across the EU must be equal to or below the average target of 95g CO2 per km. The target applies at 100% compared to sales in 2021.

This is a CO2 target, not a sales target for electric vehicles. When it was first agreed in 2008, the compliance path was not that of electric cars, but that of (small and) fuel-efficient cars. Therefore, electric vehicles are now the preferred option for many for parameter compliance and the best climate solution.

Evidence shows that in times of recession drivers are switching to smaller, less powerful cars (with lower emissions). In 2009, CO2 emissions from new cars decreased by 5.1%. Generous and targeted scrapping schemes helped to drive demand towards cleaner vehicles - scrapping schemes accounted for 86% of all sales in 2009. At least 35 conventional small and medium-sized low-cost models under 95 g/km are currently on sale. Almost all EU car manufacturers have models of this.

In the first two months of 2020, the share of total sales of electric vehicles more than doubled in the EU, from 3.1% in 2019 to more than 6% (*) in 2020. Indeed, 2020 has so far been a record year for electric car sales: France leads the five more significant markets with 8% of new electric vehicle sales, compared to 6% in the UK, 7% in Germany, 3% in Spain and 2% in Italy.

The priority in fighting climate change requires that the EU does not lower its guard against the targets already agreed. Alternative solutions exist and must be pursued.

(*) Source: https://www.transportenvironment.org/

In this period of health emergency where travel restrictions are required, you still can't give up travelling by visiting, albeit virtually, the most beautiful places in the world. All you need is an internet connection and a few clicks to reach them comfortably from home.
In response to the forced closure, all the main tourist destinations have designed and implemented real immersive tours to allow anyone to discover all the fascinating places on the planet through modern technology.
The proposed selection ranges from the iconic museum architectures that open like chests to show their priceless treasures to parks and natural beauties of every kind, from exclusive palaces and castles to the most particular and fascinating hotels, up to city tours to discover entire districts and cities.

Le Musee du Louvre, Paris
The masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance and Egyptian and Babylonian antiquities are just some of the most famous examples that make up the wide range of virtual tours offered by the Louvre: 
https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne

 

British Museum, London
Through a partnership with Google Arts & Culture, the famous London museum allows its digital visitors to take a walk through time and discover the history of artefacts from remote corners of the world.
https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/

 

Grand Canyon, Arizona
The network is full of images of one of the most famous and spectacular landscapes on earth: the Grand Canyon. But now the archaeological tour will reveal all the secrets and geological features of the stratifications that over the years have given life to him.
https://www.nps.gov/features/grca/001/archeology/

 

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
A completely immersive experience to discover the Irish geological landmark par excellence, through 360-degree views of the entire landscape accompanied by audio that fully reproduces the atmosphere of this place dominated by the most fascinating and unspoiled nature.
https://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/virtual-visit-tour/

 

Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado
An original approach is the one proposed by the Rocky Mountains National Park, which through its online sound library collects the sound biodiversity of all species of birds and wild animals present in the park. It offers the possibility to involve not only the sight but also the hearing for a real involving experience.
https://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

 

Palace of Versailles, France
Highly advanced is the experience made available on the site of the Palace of Versailles, which combines a vast amount of interactive material with innovative virtual exhibitions and the possibility to immerse yourself in the path through the helmet for virtual reality.
http://www.chateauversailles.fr/decouvrir

 

Lapland, Sweden
For all lovers of the wilderness of Northern Europe, a photographic company has published online numerous 360° videos that simulate visits to the famous Icehotel, husky and reindeer sleigh rides and even a simulation of an aurora borealis hunt. 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx6-8cW9rHGNGhELh83fcCg

 

Jerusalem, Israel
Now it is possible virtual visiting the many places rich in history of Jerusalem, getting lost along the narrow alleys paved with white stone and immerse yourself in the myriad of intense colours and scents that characterize the different neighbourhoods. It will be an immersive and engaging experience, thanks to an audio guide accompanied by innovative videos with 360° exploration capabilities.
https://samsungvr.com/view/Wv_0tcndBOG

 

Italy
As is universally known, Italy is rich in natural, artistic and cultural beauty of all kinds. Among the many sites that provide digital users with a taste of the beauty preserved there is the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, which accompanies the visit of famous works of the video pills recorded by the director James Bradburne where unpublished anecdotes are collected. Also, the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence shows its extraordinary collection of masterpieces through photographs in HD that reveal even the smallest details.
Finally, to conclude the virtual tour of the Bel Paese in its capital, connecting to the platform of the Vatican Museums, it will be possible to exceptionally observe every little detail of the Sistine Chapel. At the same time, on the site of the Scuderie del Quirinale, you can immerse yourself in the exhibition "Raffaello.1520-1483" to discover curiosities about the life of this extraordinary Renaissance artist.

https://pinacotecabrera.org/virtualtour/start.html

 

https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/uffizi-gallery

 

http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/it/collezioni/musei/cappella-sistina/tour-virtuale.html

 

https://www.scuderiequirinale.it/media/una-passeggiata-in-mostra

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