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Sharing experience for a greener future, local communities for sustainable energy in Europe

As energy costs continue to rise and the need to fight climate change is becoming ever more pressing, more than a hundred cities in Europe are running sustainable energy use strategies based on the concept of "shining examples", joint action and shared experiences. The BELIEF project encourages all European local authorities, especially urban communities, to form "Sustainable Energy Communities" to improve local policy making, promote energy citizenship and stimulate the markets for sustainable energy. This report was filmed in two urban communities participating in BELIEF: the city of Dunkirk in France, and the city of Heidelberg in Germany. We met the people behind some of the many initiatives taken in these cities. In Heidelberg, Mayor Eckart Würzner presents the city's new fire station, a low-energy "passive house" standard building, and the venue of a recent Citizens’ Festival with more than 10,000 visitors. This part of the video features also a transport company using green management techniques, a school providing sustainable energy classes, and citizens who have renovated their homes to allow them using green energy, The urban community of Greater Dunkirk shot thermal infrared images of the whole city from the air. Every citizen can consult these photos, which show just how much heat is lost from poorly insulated roofs of their buildings. We also spoke to a hotel-keeper who invested in solar panels and encouraged his peers from the region to do the same. This video report demonstrates the effectiveness of a citizen-to-citizen communication campaign. Energie-Cités, the association of European local authorities promoting sustainable local energy policies, will organise the BELIEF final conference in Cork, Ireland, on 9 April 2008 as part of the association's 13th annual meeting. The event will help European cities to share their success stories and prepare the ground for a more sustainable energy future. Interviews: Dr. Eckart Würzner, Mayor of Heidelberg
Frédérick Mabille, Director of Energy, Urban Community of Dunkirk
Marc Ducrocq, General Manager, Ibis Hotel, Dunkirk
Marlene Bohne-Becker, Headmistress, Albert-Schweitzer-Schule
Rudolf Frühauf, Mona's father
Thomas BECK, General manager , FELS

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Waging war on the pay gap

In Belgium, women working on the cash desks and stacking the shelves in Delhaize supermarkets were dismayed to find out that they were earning less than their male colleagues. Now the company is using a new analytical classification system to re-evaluate its salary structure. In Spain, a new equality law was introduced in 2007. As well as insisting on equal pay for jobs of equal value, it introduces paternity leave for the first time and also sets targets for companies to include more women in the board room. Interviews: Liliane Parent, Delhaize supermarket worker
Thierry Vermeire, Senior Manager, Social Affairs, Delhaize Supermarkets
Francoise Goffinet, Institut de l’Egalite des Femmes et des Hommes, Belgium (Institute for Equality of Women and Men)
Gitta Vanpeborgh, Gender Mainstreaming Officer, ABVV/FGTB Belgian General Workers’ Union
Eva de Diego, employee, La Caixa Bank, Barcelona
Jaime Larnasa, Human Resources Director, La Caixa Bank
Rosa Peris, Director General, Instito de la Mujer, Spain (Spanish Institute of Women)
Belinda Pyke, Director for Gender Equality, European Commission, Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
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The Europa Diary: how to be a consumer and a citizen

The content is chosen by the European Commission according to topics of interest to young people aged 15 to 18, and is then drafted by a team of professional writers. Since 2004, the Europa Diary has dealt with issues such as consumer credit, counterfeiting, e-commerce, climate change, fair trade, the dangers of tobacco and alcohol use, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.The Diary may also be partially adapted to each country. National partners of Generation Europe may, on the one hand, choose or refuse certain articles according to national issues or curricula; on the other hand, they have four pages to fill with their own content. Ireland, for example, chose to publish an article about the consequences of binge drinking, which is reaching epidemic proportions among the country's young people. Over 2.7 million copies are distributed free of charge to secondary school pupils in the 27 member states, and there are still 1 million copies available for the 2008-2009 academic year. Schools interested in receiving them must place their orders before 15 February 2008 on the website of the Generation Europe Foundation, which coordinates the publication and distribution of the Europa Diary for the Commission. Interviews: Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Consumer Protection
Pupils and teachers at the following schools: Benjamin Franklin Secondary School (Bucharest), Vesaliusinstituut (Ostend, Belgium), Institut industriel Notre-dame (Anderlecht, Belgium)
Sorin Mierlea, President of the National Association for Consumer Protection in Romania (Asociatia Nationala pentru Protectia Consumatorilor si Promovarea Programelor si Strategiilor din Romania)

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Banning misleading labels in Europe

Food products will need to meet the requirements of nutrient profiles to bear nutrition and health claims. Nutrient profiles will be based on the content of nutrients such as fat, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, salt and sugars, excessive intakes of which in the overall diet are not recommended. Nutrition claims can fail one criterion, i.e. if only one nutrient (salt, sugar or fat) exceeds the limit of the profile a claim can still be made. In such cases the high level of that particular nutrient must be clearly marked on the label, although not if the claim relates to the reduced content of a certain nutrient. Health claims cannot fail any criteria. Exemptions from the requirement to respect established nutrient profiles can also be envisaged for certain foods or categories of foods depending on their role and importance in the diet of the population.

Nutrient profiles will be set on the basis of scientific advice of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), but should also allow for innovation in the food sector. Socioeconomic impact will also be considered when setting nutrient profiles, as well as, cultural and dietary/culinary aspects. The nutrient profiles will be fully in force as from January 2011.

Health claims will need Community authorisation to be used in labelling and advertising of foods. The authorisation procedures foresee the evaluation of the claim scientific substantiation by EFSA. Only the claims backed by scientific data proving the health beneficial effect will be authorised.

For the food industry, the regulation on nutrition and health claims harmonises rules in force on the European market, and for consumers, it represents a guarantee of reliable information and the use of only scientifically substantiated claims.Interviews: Daniela Forapani, Consumer, Italy
James Murray, The European Consumers Organisation, Director
Catherine Geslain-Laneelle, European Food Safety Authority, Executive Director
Albert Flynn, EFSA Scientific Panel on Nutrition
Paola Testori-Coggi, European Commission, DG Health and Consumer Protection
Justine Huart, Dietitian, Belgium
Nathalie Delzenne, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium
Gert Meijer, Unilever Health Institute, The Netherlands
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Better information for better eating habits

The rules that govern nutrition labelling have already been in force for over a decade. In general nutrition labelling is included on a voluntary basis so the inclusion on most products depends on the goodwill of the agri-and-food industry. When nutrition labelling can be found, it may be difficult to find since it can be in small or very small print. Moreover, the type of labelling varies from one product to the next and from one country to the other. As a result, when filling their shopping carts, few European consumers take the time to look for this information and to read and analyse it before making their choice.

The European Commission is aware of the importance of nutrition labelling in terms of public health and aims to satisfy European citizens' increasing demands in this area. It has consequently proposed to change the existing rules in order to make it obligatory for manufacturers to place nutrition labelling, for certain nutrients, in a visible position on the front of packages. The information on the main nutrients must also be shown in terms of their contribution to daily nutritional needs. Labels need to be easy-to-read at the time of purchase, to help European consumers to take better control of their eating habits and avoid excess of all kinds.Interviews: Dr Freddy Van de Casseye, General Manager, Belgian Heart League,
Josephine Wills, Director General, EUFIC
Agnès Martin, Nutrition Corporate Director, Danone
Claire Hughes, Nutritionist, Marks & Spencer
Robert Madelin, Director General for Health and Consumer Protection, EC
Edmond Henguelle, Managing Director, Les Naturelles du Haut Pays
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The EU and Afghanistan: Supporting renewal through security and development

The past six years in Afghanistan have been marked by a struggle to maintain the peace and build the institutions of economic and social revival. This is no easy task in a country driven by two and half decades of conflict. The EU has developed a comprehensive range of measures and missions, with an emphasis on areas of greatest concern, like the burgeoning drugs production and its impact on the security situation, as well as on progress in rural and economic development and supporting the rights of women. What progress lies beneath the daily news reports? The video shows the European Union’s “EUPOL” police training and skills-building initiative, which is helping train police officers across the country and providing advice on strategy. The violent forces which shook Afghanistan for more than two decades have left a police force in need of strategic guidance, managerial know-how as well as a capacity on the street to fight crime. "We’d very much like to support the development of their police towards international standards” says Joergen SCHOLZ, Head of EUPOL Mission in Afghanistan. “In a country like this, in which the administrative bodies have been destroyed by the long-lasting war inside the country, there was a need to bring a lot of police into the streets very quickly. So the European model, to well-train police officers over a period of two to three years, might certainly not be suitable for the country here. So we must go for a solution in the very middle.” The video also reports from Nangahar and Laghman provinces on the border with Pakistan, where innovative agricultural and health projects are transforming the lives of thousands of people and offering business and social welfare models for the future. "You have a very remarkable improvement in the health sector" says Hansjoerg Kretschmer, Head of the European Commission Delegation in Afghanistan. “Now 80 % of the population is covered by the basic package of Health Services. We have a remarkable improvement in infrastructure, and we have a big jump forwards in terms of education." Stories such as these demonstrate the impact that the EU is having on the ground, in the lives of people living away from the headlines. Interviews: Joergen Scholz, Head of Mission of EUPOL force in Afghanistan
Major General Salim Ahsas, Commander Police, Kabul Zone
General Ahmad Niksad, Head of Criminal Investigation Department, Kabul Police
Francesc Vendrell, Special representative of the European Union in Afghanistan
“Huma”, Victim of domestic violence (fictive name)
Jamila Ghairat, Administrator and program manager of Women for Afghan Women
Ambassador Hansjoerg Kretschmer, Head of Delegation, European Commission in Afghanistan
Dr Mohammed Naseem, Health Care Programme Manager, HealthNet TPO in Nangahar province
Sazpari, old woman suffering from depression
Dr Hafizullah Faiz, Programme Manager Mental Health, HealthNet TPO
Arbab Aziz, Fish farm manager, Nangahar province
Friedrich Roentt, Development Consultant for Project for Alternative Livelihoods (PAL). Gesellschaft for Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
Alain de Bures, Agricultural programme consultant for Madera

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Contravia: Atentado al palacio de Justicia

El periodista Hollman Morris investigando a fondo la compleja coyuntura político social de la actualidad Latinoamericana.

Cortesía de TeleSur.
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New technologies and energy efficiency: Save the climate with your PC!

Over half of all European households now own a computer. But with their scanners, printers and modems, personal computers can account for up to 20% of household electricity consumption. Manufacturers, encouraged by the European Commission, are therefore looking for ways to make their products consume less energy. Consumers have a role to play too. They can buy products with the Energy Star logo for their superior energy efficiency and can develop certain elementary good habits, like switching off devices when not in use. However, the simple fact of using the new technologies can result in considerable energy savings and help slash our CO2 emissions! ICT can be used, for example, to reduce our use of cars and other means of transport (teleworking, audio and videoconferences, virtual training, etc.) and to save paper (virtual bills, etc.). According to a WWF study, with these few applications alone, the EU states could save some 50 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, the equivalent of the annual emissions of a country like Sweden. If used sensibly, information and communication technologies can make a significant contribution to achieving the targets proposed by the European Commission: 20% improvement in energy efficiency and 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020… Interviews: Gabriella Peszeki, Hungarian teleworker
Dennis Pamlin, WWF
Roger Benson, Director Northern Europe, Intel
Chandrakant Patel, researcher, Hewlett Packard
Kate Cottam, student, Telford College, Edinburgh
Corrie Howarth, student, Telford College, Edinburgh
Michael Turpie, Information Services, Telford College, Edinburgh
Nicola Duffy, student, Telford College, Edinburgh
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Contravia : Ritual Inca en Bolivia

El periodista Hollman Morris investigando a fondo la compleja coyuntura político social de la actualidad Latinoamericana.

Cortesía de TeleSur.
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Climate action: putting Europe's new energy policy into practice

The European Commission’s Directorate-General Environment presents a video report on the concrete measures proposed by the European Commission. It includes interviews with key voices.

With the active involvement of the EU, the Bali Conference, last December, demonstrated that a global agreement on climate change is feasible. Today, the European Commission's new energy and climate package aims to slash the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, and by 30% if other industrialised countries agree to do the same.

Various sectors like agriculture, transport and construction and all Member States will have to play their role and contribute to Europe's targets according to their respective financial capacities. For energy-intensive sectors, such as steel and chemicals, the Commission proposes to strengthen the EU's Emissions Trading System to help reach the 20% objective.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require an increased use of renewable energies, which also implies a more diversified energy supply for Europe.
Interviews: Mattias Klum, National Geographic photographer
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
José Ángel Gurría, Secretary General of the OECD
Janez Podobnik, Minister of the Environment, Slovenia
Philippe de Buck, Secretary General of Business Europe
Fatih Birol, Chief Economist and Head of the Economic Analysis Division of the International Energy Agency [see B-Roll of the video].

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