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  • A ROCKET SHOWES US HOW EARTH IS DOING

    Spacecraft, called Sentinel-2a, was launched last June. The mission of the space craft (photos of Earth) is to supervise an urban grow and a situation after natural disaster (such as tsunamis or earthquakes). It may also control the performance of food crops. The camera sensor installed can detect specific wavelengths of light that detail the health of plants. It’s the second satellite scrutinize planet Earth.

    Europe funded an environmental project called Copernicus with six families of Sentinel satellites, proving information on land surface, oceans and atmosphere. The spacecraft already helped after Nepal heart quake disaster last month, proving its sensors are working. Right now is focusing on oceans and the atmosphere.

    The director of Earth observation at the European Space Agency (ESA) Volker Liebig said that “they have 13 spectral bands including four in the so-called 'red edge' where plants and chlorophyll reflect light - and this shows us what plants are doing”.

    So this project can help food agencies, such as World Food Programme, to monitor food growth all over the world.

    The data collected will help Europe enforce and make new policies for example on fishing quotas.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 22 June 2015

    (Source: BBC news)

  • FOOD SCARE IN INDIA

    Nestle company, producer of Maggi instant noodles, sold batches of the noodles with high level of lead.

    India’s government decided to file a case against Swiss multinational food and beverage company Nestle for false advertising.

    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned the product after finding a lead level above given limits: as a result, six states declared a temporary bans of the instant noodles.

    Nestle stated that its product is “safe for consumption”, but it is not ready to comment on the filed case against the company.

    Also the company announced a temporary pull from sale, until new test results are made.

    India is deciding to file the case in front of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (a quasi-judicial commission) for compensation that can rise to Rs10 million.

    Maggi noodles occupy 80% of the instant noodles market in India. Many celebrities endorsed the product over the years.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 15 June 2015

    (Source: UK Tribune)

  • JAVARA SUPPORTS LOCAL FARMERS IN INDONESIA

    Indonesian former lawyer and entrepreneur Helianti Hilman created a social enterprise overseeing the marketing and distribution of artisanal products. She created a network of 50000 smallholder farmers from Indonesia.

    The 44 year old woman travelled to a village in the West Java and observed the relationship between indigenous farmers and agriculture, as it “was much more than just growing organic”she decided to establish her  organisation called Javara.

    There were several reasons for her decision. First of all, it was a poverty of the local farmers. They are influenced by big palm oil producers and other forest users, because Indonesia is still trying to establish and enforce collective rights of the use of the land.

    Secondly, Hilman considered the sustainable reasons. In the 70s, the government encouraged farmers to agricultural extension practices, a so-called Green Revolution: an indigenous people rejected this idea of modernity, and decided to continue with traditional methods. The diversity of plants and seeds offered by the farmers is both good for business and climate change, but these varieties are still at a risk.

    A nonprofit group called International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFR) reported the importance of indigenous communities in the fight of climate change. It is underlining a need to combine traditional and scientific knowledge for the sake of forests and food security.

    Indonesia is facing a challenge: the farmers live in remote areas and have no knowledge about marketing and promoting themselves.

    In 2009, when Hilman got involved, a deal with Ranch Market (a premium supermarket in Jakarta) to stock two-dozen varieties of the farmers’rice was made. After the agreement was signed, others have followed, and right now indigenous products are trendy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 29 June 2015

    (Source:The Guardian)

  • RESPONSIBLE FARMING NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER

    British supermarkets, according to Guardian investigator, are selling pork chops and bacon with antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA. After many tests they found three different strains of MRSA: 100 products were tested and in 9 contained the bug (8 of them were imported from Denmark).

    The Food Standards Agency (a non-ministerial government department of UK responsible for food safety and farming establishment) still downside the risk of intensive production, stating that is safe, efficient and clean. Also telling that it’s not a factory farming problem, but it’s how the food is cooked: adequate home cooking will kill off bacteria. The problem with MRSA it’s that can be transferred to people’s skin before the cooking.

    European Food Safety Authority, WHO and many others organization recognized the high risk of using antibiotics on factory farm; because abusing antibiotics on the food we eat is causing antibiotic-resistant bugs to humans.

    In 2006, EU banned the use of antibiotics as growth-promoters, but for many reasons the employment of it is still going into many supermarkets. One of the causes is intensive meat production; in intensive systems, pigs are fed systematically with sub-therapeutics levels of antibiotics included into their food.

    There is an urgent need to legally binding the use of antibiotics in farming in UK; a solution can be a tax on farmyard antibiotics. Buying organic and grass-fed food is not a trend, but is becoming a necessity for human health.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 22 June 2015

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • TRANSATLANTIC TRADE AND INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP BY MEPS

    TTIP, aimed at creating the world's biggest free trade zone between the United States and Europe, is opposed by parties on the right and left of the political spectrum. The possibility of an US-EU trade is creating angry scenes in the European parliament.

    US president Barack Obama is struggling on receiving through Congress the so-called “fast track”authority: an instrument allowing the President to negotiate international trade agreement without a vote from the Congress.

    Meanwhile it is the first time, elected representatives in Strasbourg are really expressing their voices on TTIP and the delay was caused by the pro-TTIP leadership afraid of losing the debate.

    Due to the vote, many problems were raised. First of all, campaigners reached 2 million signatures against the deal (due also to the secrecy behind the negotiations).

    Also the MEPs themselves are really divided on the matter:  leading socialist group Martin Schulz and Bernd Lange claimed the too many amendments, but really they are afraid of losing control of their own bloc. Especially the Labour Party didn’t agreeon many aspects of TTIP, leading to the high possibility of a critical resolution.

    After holding a new debate, TTIP goes back to the trade committee because the majority of MEPs feels that this trade is a real threat to European sovereignty and it needs more time before coming again on the floor of parliament.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 15 June 2015

    (Source: Open Democracy)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • CLIMATE CHANGE 'CAUSES ONLY 2-3% OF FARM INCOME FLUCTATIONS'

    Studying the role climate change plays in farmers' income fluctuations has found no big impact, so technological farming, land consolidation and improved market information can all help farmers to mitigate financial risks from global warming.

    Climate data consisted primarily of temperature and precipitation. They used this model to identify links between climate factors and income, and then look at what would happen to incomes given certain changes.

    Using 30 years of historical data, the research found climatic change accounted for only about 2%-3% of fluctuations in agricultural incomes.

    China’s agricultural output has increased in recent years, and if climate change has had any impact it has just been to slow that increase a bit. The main impact of climate change won’t be increased temperatures, but greater fluctuations, but technological advances bolster output, cancelling out much of the effects of climate change.

    As for the impact of climate change on the agricultural economy, there are two issues to look at: agricultural output, and the market.

    First, crop and climate models use hypothetical conditions, while economic models use actual data and are more realistic. Second, an obvious failing of the climate models is that the scientists haven’t considered how farmers will respond, and their responses cancel out some of the impacts.

    Agricultural incomes are also affected by market reactions. In a dry year, harvests may be smaller, but the market quickly responds by offering higher prices, so farmers earn more for the same quantity of harvest, and those higher prices also mean more is invested in production. So overall, losses may not be as big as predicted. Short term losses can, as farmers respond to the market, be made up by longer term gains. Also, globalized markets will also acts as a buffer zone, evening out price fluctuations in specific locations.

    Moreover, agricultural incomes in south China are more sensitive to changes in precipitation, while in the north they are sensitive to both temperature and precipitation. More irrigation will help the north of China deal with the drier conditions caused by climate warming.

    The northward movement of crops initially suggests an expansion of the extent of some crops planted in the south, but climate is only one factor: market prices are keys to what gets planted. If a certain crop isn’t suitable for planting at high latitudes, but later becomes suitable through improved strains, then the technology is in place to make the shift if prices increase. So a big issue currently is how to guide technology to reduce the impact of climate change on agriculture.

    Overall, farmers need to guard against market risk first. Climate change comes second.

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

    Thursday, 12th February 2015

  • CHINA SET TO MISS SAFE RURAL DRINKING WATER TARGETS

    In 2011, China launched a huge policy and investment drive to bring safe drinking water to the entire country, including its remotest areas.

    While city dwellers have mainly demanded better water quality, the drinking water safety issues facing rural Chinese are arguably even more urgent. Some face problems obtaining water at all, while more struggle to get enough clean, accessible and affordable drinking water.

    The goals set out in the nationwide “12FYP Rural Safe Drinking Water Project” included access to safe drinking water for 298 million rural residents, and for teachers and students in 114,000 rural schools, and raising the centralized water supply rate to 80%. Investment in rural drinking water safety-related infrastructure construction during the 12FYP was set at 175 billion Chinese yuan.

    Investment during the 12FYP built on past initiatives. The Ministry of Health (MoH) launched a nation-wide “rural water supply improvement” project in 1990. Since 2000, the central government has invested almost 300 billion yuan in rural drinking water safety projects.

    During the 11th Five Year Plan period (2006-2010), the topic was promoted to a national planning level problem. Three major government bodies - the National Development and Reformation Commission (NDRC), MWR and Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) - jointly released the first "National Rural Drinking Water Safety Project" five-year plan, which received 100.9 billion yuan in government funds, and led to safer drinking water safety for over 210 million rural residents.

    Contingency projects have brought “life-saving water” to rural people who either lacked water or didn’t have drinkable water. But the challenges ahead remain substantial.

    In 2015, 51.63 million rural residents and 7.04 million rural teachers and students still had unresolved drinking water issues. It is clear that China still faces many challenges in order to meet its rural drinking water safety goals.

    One worry is that in the quest to achieve the central government’s goal of “completely solving” rural water problems, construction of supply systems will be completed in a hurry but water supply and quality may not be guaranteed. Liu Wenjun, director of the Division of Drinking Water Safety at Tsinghua University, commented that, “completely solving” rural drinking water problems would involve more of an administrative planning style than the current approach. He added that completely solving the issue for everyone is a “mission impossible.”

    Rural drinking water safety faces great challenges to water resources, in terms of both quantity and quality. On one hand, lower overall availability of water to due climate change and overuse of groundwater has led to significant reduction or depletion of groundwater and surface water sources in certain rural areas. The result: some villagers who were helped by previous projects once again lack safe drinking water.

    Meanwhile, the quality of rural drinking water sources has deteriorated under the impact of mining, industrial wastewater discharge, excessive pesticide and fertilizer use, livestock breeding, domestic sewage discharge, and improper waste disposal.

    Water Resources minister Chen Lei said that the 13FYP would include work on improving rural drinking water quality and the efficiency of water supplies. Steps will be taken to increase rural tap water penetration rate, water supply guarantee rate and water quality levels.

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

    Thursday, 5 March 2015

  • EXPORTS JUMP IN CHINA, BUT SLIDE IN IMPORTS SIGNALS ECONOMIC WEAKNESS

    Data released by the General Administration of Customs showed that China posted a record trade surplus of $60.6 billion.
    Exportsrose 15 percent during the first two months of last year from a year earlier, quickening from a 6.1 percent annual rise in the whole of 2014 as demand from major markets improved.
    Analysts tend to look at the combined trade data for the two months to help smooth out distortions caused by the Lunar New Year Holiday.
    Exports to the United States, China's largest export market, jumped 48.5 percent from a year earlier. Exports to the Europe Union (the second largest market) rose 44.1 percent year-on-year, but it was also down month-on-month.
    China's imports tumbled 20.2 percent in the first two months from a year earlier, signaling stubborn weakness in the world's second-largest economy that may require more policy support.
    A 20.5 percent slide in imports was the sharpest since the global financial crisis. Imports have been weaker than exports, highlighting the need to spur domestic demand amid fears of deflation, as some short-term investors pull out of the country, showed by sustained capital outflows in recent months.
    The government has set an economic growth target of around 7 percent for this year, below the 7.5 percent goal that was narrowly missed in 2014, but analysts believe more policy support is needed to arrest the slowdown.
    China plans to run its biggest budget deficit in 2015 since the global financial crisis, stepping up spending as Premier Li Keqiang signaled that the lowest rate of growth in a quarter of a century is the "new normal" for the economy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Reuters)

    Sunday, 8th March 2015

     

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • CHINA TO IMPLEMENT NEW ANTI-GRAFT LAW

    China plans to enact specific legislation to fight corruption.

    Zhang Dejiang, who is also the ruling Communist Party's third ranked leader, made the announcement at a full meeting of the National People's Congress.

    He gave no details, and it is not clear how the new law will differ from existing laws which target things like bribery and embezzlement. The party generally conducts its own probes into corruption first before handing over suspects to prosecutors.

    President Xi Jinping, who assumed office in 2013, has said that the problem is so serious it could affect the party's ability to maintain power. Other legislation planned includes laws on domestic violence, terror, the management of foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and on cyber-security, as well as an amendment to the air pollution law.

    The anti-terror law, which would require tech firms to provide encryption keys and install backdoors granting law enforcement agents access for counterterrorism investigations, has drawn concern internationally, including in the United States. The proposed NGO law has also attracted criticism for the restrictions it seeks to impose.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Reuters)

    Sunday, 8th March 2015

     

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • ERICSSON SUES APPLE FOR TELECOM PATENT INFRINGEMENT

    Ericsson, Swedish mobile telecom company, is suing Apple Inc. for patent infringement.
    It filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) requesting an exclusion order against Apple's products for infringing Ericsson patents.
    Furthermore, it filed a second ITC complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas requesting damages and injunctions for infringement of patents "critical to many other aspects of Apple's devices".

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Reuters)

    Friday, 27th February 2015

     

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • CHINA FIRMS SEE FINANCIAL BENEFITS FROM CARBON FOOTPRINTING

    Corporate sustainability is based on the idea that companies can best fulfill their social commitments by running their core business operations sustainably, not merely through charitable donations.Seven years ago, only 5 out of 100 top China-listed companies responded to the Carbon Disclosure Project's survey, but 45% replied in 2014. China director Li Rusong talks about the latest developments.

    "There have been both behavioral and mindset changes especially from the banking and ICT sector. In particular, mobile phone companies are realizing carbon disclosure is a very good platform for them to be doing an exercise to improve energy efficiency, and save money. The policy push is there; companies have to comply with government regulations. The market incentives are also there. Consumers’ environmental awareness is awakening, though individual consumer power is limited. But collective power from multinationals as huge purchasers will play a big role. Institutional investors are increasingly looking at sustainability. Even with Chinese investors, we see a trend towards engaging in dialogue with their investees".

    The most important factor behind this growing interest in corporate sustainability has been the investors, but there is a larger driving force, and that is the purchasing power of multinationals.

    Despite progress, companies revealing their data are a minority. For that, it is important to convince the government that disclosure is useful for China’s competitiveness, and at the same time, to convince the companies that disclosure is useful for them too. Disclosure is in itself a competitiveness exercise; they get to know their strong and weak points, and their sector’s trends. It allows them to see their potential risks and identify innovation points. Of course, companies won’t deal with problems automatically; it’s still up to the company leadership’s determination to take this forward. But disclosure is a very good foundation for possible change.

    Furthermore, if NGOs really want to solve problems, they should work with corporations, and a lot of Chinese NGOs are beginning to see this point, and they already started working with corporations in different ways.

    Another project is Green Credit that is important in encouraging environmentally-friendly practices.

    Currently, some pension funds, state-owned banks, ICBC, and China Construction Bank are all learning from their international peers who have pioneering programs. The People’s Bank of China and other state-owned banks have been cooperating with the British Embassy on green Credit initiatives for a few years. They have also researched into green credit policies in the EU and the U.S., even sending their staff there to learn.

    Finally, it is necessary convincing government officials with a very practical approach, to reach out to them, to show a track record that shows will benefit companies and China, CDP has to prove that it is a trustworthy organization.

    The main problem is that local governments may fail to implement central government’s environmental policies fully, because there is a gap between the awareness of central government and provincial governments. But provincial governments’ limitations are not due to a lack of drive to learn, but to tough realities. Sometimes, they just feel that revealing information could lead to an unknown situation. They are unsure about the utility of CDP’s data, and concerned it will jeopardize Chinese corporate secrets, or even their position.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

    Thursday, 5the February 2015

  • CHINA'S DRINKING WATER SAFETY FACES SCRUTINY

    China's central government has set ambitious goals to safeguard water quality in 2011. There was a movement to lift and standardize the varying levels of provincial drinking water quality by introducing a new national standard. In 2007, a National Drinking Water Quality Standard was introduced. This standard is accordance with international standards, but since the bar was set far above the actual quality levels of China’s water, it only came into full effect in July 2012.

    Recent China's government water safety goals are: over 600 million urban residents already enjoyed access to public water supply services, and more than 400 million rural residents had access to clean drinking water. However, 298 million rural Chinese lacked safe drinking water; they were to get supplies during the 2011-2015 Plan, while for urban residents, the stated public water supply penetration rate was to rise from 90% to 95%.

    What is not clear is the quality of the water delivered. In the wake of the anticipated “Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan”, which prioritizes drinking water safety, China Water Risk has taken a closer look into the actual status of urban and rural drinking water in China, and unfortunately some urban water quality is still unreliable, while rural areas face many challenges in meeting requirements that are less stringent than in urban areas. It follows that to achieve high drinking water quality requires comprehensive standards, policies and regulations to be in place, governing the entire supply chain from source-to-tap. Water source protection was included in the China’s ambitious plan to safeguard safe drinking water in the 12th Five Year Plan, and targets set for both 2015 and 2020.

    China is locked into a “technology-focused” path, and is looking at high-tech innovation and infrastructure investment to ensure water quality and delivery.

    Considering the macro-level success, in provincial capitals and big cities in developed eastern coastal regions, water safety “essentially has no problems.” In second and third-tier cities as well as medium to small towns, water safety development is “patchy”, but has been improving. In rural areas, there has been rapid progress with collective water supply. Problems with the “Three Highs”, namely high concentrations of fluorine, arsenic and salt found in water in some rural areas, have largely been resolved.

    Furthermore, beyond this largely positive macro-level overview of China’s drinking water safety, on a local level the real status of water safety in each city, town, county or village remains unclear. Against this backdrop, civil society groups have resorted to self-testing drinking water to obtain water quality data. A recent report from China Water Safety Foundation shows that only half of the 29 big and medium sized cities it surveyed passed the test on all 20 selected indicators from the National Drinking Water Standard; one city failed the tests on 4 indicators. These test results, together with all other civic monitoring actions, do not give a comprehensive picture of drinking water safety, but they are enough to point out the risks and challenges ahead.

    As the report points out, many obstacles need to be addressed in China’s long march to safe drinking water. China faces problems of ambiguous ownership, unclear water pricing mechanisms, immature market mechanisms and a lack of rural business models, among other issues. There are also governance challenges with dispersed and overlapping responsibilities among various departments across ministries.

    Given the current situation, a drinking water monitoring system at both national and local levels is clearly required, as are a water quality technology framework from source-to-tap; supervision and early warning systems; and integrated watershed management. The report suggests these needs should be addressed in the coming “Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan”.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

    Friday, 13th February 2015