Soil health is high on the EU political agenda. The European Green Deal, and other policies, recognise soil health as an essential element for achieving their objectives, such as climate neutrality, stopping desertification and land degradation or reversing biodiversity loss.
The European Mission Soil Week was held in Madrid, Spain on 21-23 November 2023 under the title ‘Leading the transition towards healthy soils’. This first annual event took place in the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council.
It was organised by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) in the context of the Mission Soil, together with the EU-funded project PREPSOIL and the Joint Research Centre – EU Soil Observatory (EUSO). The main goal of the EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ is to establish 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.
The event brought together Mission stakeholders and projects, among which BEATLES was represented by Blanca Casares, Policy Expert and project manager at AEIDL (European Association for Innovation in Local Development).
The Mission Soil Week give visibility to the importance of soil protection, restoration and monitoring, and discuss actions and solutions that are needed to progress towards more sustainable land management. The full programme is available here.
BEATLES took part of the session Soil health for food organised by DG RTD – Bioeconomy & Food Systems Unit. This session focused its debate on that soils are the foundation of agri-food systems. The group explored the connection between healthy soil and food production as well as the potential of waste valorisation is important for the achievement of the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy for a fair, healthy and environment‑friendly food system. The group of panellists consisted of:
- José Manuel González Vicente, Head of the Spanish Delegation to Horizon Europe Cluster 6 (Bioeconomy and Environment), Soil Mission Mirror Group
- Antonella Autino, PRIMA Programme Coordinator
- Alfred Grand, Farmer at GRAND FARM, former Member of the Mission Board ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’
- Pandi Zdruli, Senior Research Scientist, Member of the Mission Board ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’
- Antonio José Manzaneda Ávila, Universidad de Jaén, Coordinator of the EU-funded project SOIL O-LIVE
- Ansa Palojärvi, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Coordinator of the EU-funded project DeliSoil
- Sara Daniotti, Project Manager, Head of Bioeconomy PM Unit at Consorzio Italbiotec, Coordinator of the EU-funded project Bin2Bean
This first edition of the European Mission Soil Week was particularly significant in the context of the proposed EU Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience. The Commission’s proposal was published on 5 July 2023 with the aim to ensure healthy soils by 2050, in close connection with the Mission Soil goals and the support the Mission can provide to reach the objectives promoted by the Directive.
Read the Mission Soil Manifesto here published in April 2023.
Author: Blanca Casares (AEIDL)