The issue at hand
As the foundation of our food systems, healthy soils are essential for life on Earth. They provide clean water and habitats for biodiversity while contributing to climate resilience and support our cultural heritage and landscapes and are the basis of our economy and prosperity.
Soils are under multiple pressures, including climate change, urbanisation, pollution, overexploitation, nutrient mining and biodiversity loss with the European Commission estimating that under current management practices, it’s between 60% and 70% of our soils that are unhealthy.
The ‘deal’ with soils
The EU Mission “A Soil Deal for Europe” aims to address these issues by:
- funding an ambitious research and innovation programme with a strong social science component;
- putting in place an effective network of 100 living labs and lighthouses to co-create knowledge, test solutions and demonstrate their value in real-life conditions;
- developing a harmonised framework for soil monitoring in Europe;
- raising people’s awareness on the vital importance of soils.
Achieving those objectives requires a direct involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, bringing together multiple perspectives in ecological, environmental, economic and social contexts.
SOLO launched in December 2022 and will be running until November 2027 with the support of 5 million euros provided by the European Union’s Horizon Europe program.
SOLO will identify current knowledge gaps, drivers, bottlenecks, and novel research and innovation approaches to be considered in the European Soil Mission research and innovation roadmap.
The project will implement Think Tanks, one for each Mission objective, with the aim of co-creating knowledge and identifying the knowledge gaps, drivers, bottlenecks, and novel approaches in terms of research and innovation.
The project will engage users at regional, national and European level to support the co-design of comprehensive research and innovation roadmaps for the Soil Mission and identify knowledge gaps and novel avenues for European soil research and innovation in the context of the Soil Mission objectives.
Furthermore, SOLO will identify, describe and assess the drivers and barriers to soil health in Europe, develop dynamic roadmaps as effective research and innovation agendas for the Soil Mission with a particular focus on the integration and synthesis across sectors.
You can find out more about the project on the Soils for Europe (SOLO) website: soils4europe.eu. Stay up to date with the project’s progress on Twitter (@soils4europe) and LinkedIn (/Soils-for-Europe).
SOLO’s consortium comprises a European network of established professionals from the academic and non-academic fields from various backgrounds, who have agreed to work collaboratively to fulfil the objectives set by the EU Mission “A Soil Deal for Europe” which aims to create a shared research and innovation vision that will accelerate Europe’s trajectory towards sustainable soil management and restoration as part of a wider, green transition in rural and urban areas.
Full list of partners:
- National Resources Institute Finland
- University of Leipzig
- Pesticide Action Network
- Agroecology Europe
- Leitat Technological Centre
- Netherlands Institute of Ecology
- Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research
- Lund University
- Pensoft Publishers
- University of Évora
- Institute of Advanced Studies Kőszeg
- National Observatory of Athens
- Norwegian University of Life Sciences
- University of Antwerp
- University of Trento
- Fraunhofer Society
- ICLEI European Secretariat GMBH