The pesticide-free town: sowing the seeds of tomorrow

What do a pharmacist, a nursery school teacher and an architect all have in common? They all became unlikely activists in the historic case of the first pesticide-free town.

In 2014, Mals, a German-speaking town of 5,300 inhabitants in the north of Italy, became the first community in the world to hold a referendum on pesticide use. The result was a landslide: 75% voted for a ban. But how did this small town triumph over the powerful pesticide industry?


Amsterdam’s air pollution: battling for breath

The 21st century has seen the rise of an invisible assassin: the air we breathe.

A shocking 95% of the world’s population breathe dirty air every day, and more than 400,000 European citizens die early because of air pollution. Toxic air is now found in most European cities.


Saving Bialowieza: nature’s last line of defence

No story says ‘people versus power’ like the struggle to save Bialowieza forest in Poland. In 2016, concerned citizens from all walks of life mobilised in this ancient forest to stop extreme logging by the Polish state. Their demand was simple: stop breaking EU nature protection laws.

In this series we are exploring the value of regulation in protecting people and planet. We have travelled across Europe to meet real people fighting to protect the things they cherish, using – or calling for – regulation to help their struggle.


Antimicrobial Resistance: When the cure becomes the disease

Medicine as we know it is under threat.

Around the world, common infections and routine surgeries are becoming fatal, as common antibiotics fail to treat bacteria and microbes.

The cause? Over-use and abuse of antibiotics in humans and agriculture is causing antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Bacteria and microbes become resistant to treatment. The rise of these ‘superbugs’ could create diseases that are non-curable.



"Thanks to the laws, we had something to refer to whilst fighting. It gave us a backbone. We had something behind us giving us power."

Kinga Karp, Save Bialowieza activist

Regulation, rules and standards are essential to protecting people and planet.

But over the past years we have witnessed a deregulation trend across Europe. This is happening at EU level but also in our capitals.

In this series we explore the value of regulation. We have travelled across Europe to meet real people fighting to protect the things they cherish, using – or calling for – regulation to help their struggle.

We see what this abstract concept of regulation actually means for people across Europe and their everyday lives.

Watch the series and discover how laws can save lives.


"I think it is on us to preserve and to regulate our world."

Margit Gasser, member of Hollawint


Executive producer
Friends of the Earth Europe

Myriam Douo & Katie Hodgetts

Katie Hodgetts

Thomas Szacka-Marier

Thomas Szacka-Marier & Eka Tsotsoria

With thanks
Francesca Gater & Paul de Clerck & Laura Hieber


"Why can’t we put more energy and effort into making everyone healthy and able to breathe healthy air?"

Tanya Ruiter, member of the Air Watchers


"That regulation helped me be alive today."

Silviu Ciocanelli, Colectiv fire survivor and musician


"Legislation has to ensure what is best for the general interest."

Martina Hellrigl, member of Hollawint