Unveiling the Urgency: The EU Soil Mission Takes Center Stage

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Unveiling the Soil Health Imperative

In the wake of environmental challenges and the need for sustainable living, the European Union's Soil Mission took a significant step forward during its recent Soil Week. The event, marked by a series of impactful sessions, shed light on the pressing issue of soil health in Europe. The mission underscored that a staggering 61,5% of European soils are currently unhealthy, encompassing diverse land types such as farmland, forestry, urban areas, and natural landscapes. Urgent actions and tailored solutions are imperative to rejuvenate soil health, support biodiversity, foster biological production, and promote sustainable living.

Day One: A Comprehensive Overview of EU Soil Mission's Ambitions

The first day of the Soil Week provided a comprehensive overview of the EU Soil Mission's ambitions and strategies. One of the core elements highlighted was the establishment of living labs and lighthouses as experimental sites. These sites are envisioned to play a pivotal role in addressing the diverse conditions of European soils and generating locally adapted solutions. The Soil Mission has already allocated funds to 17 projects, including EDAPHOS, as part of its 2022 Work Programme.

The international dimension of soil health was also emphasized, with specific initiatives such as PRIMA and the soil carbon IRC taking center stage. The morning sessions covered EU Mission support, the framework, and the overarching ambition for soil health. Bridget Emmett provided insights into the current status of EU soils, while the importance of the EU Soil Observatory and the key role of Living Labs were highlighted. The session also featured examples of ongoing soil health experiments, including presentations by farmers from Murcia, Lille Metropole, and Blue!

Day Two: Transdisciplinary Approaches and Collaborative Initiatives

The second day of the Soil Week began with a compelling opening address by Anna Krzywoszynska, linking soil sustainability to societal transformation through a transdisciplinary approach. The spotlight then shifted to the PRESOIL initiative, aiming to facilitate the deployment of the Soil Mission in Europe and raise awareness about the importance of healthy soils to society at large. The initiative is seen as a key enabler for launching living labs and lighthouses, engaging communities of practice in the process.

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The Prepsoil Knowledge Hub was introduced as a valuable tool for promoting soil health. This platform is expected to play a crucial role in disseminating information, fostering collaboration, and empowering individuals and organizations to contribute to soil sustainability.

A session titled "Meet the Project" showcased the collaborative potential between the EDAPHOS and ECHO projects, particularly focusing on citizen engagement. The breakout session on living labs and lighthouses delved into expectations, programs, and certification through ENOLL, attracting numerous potential candidates for the next call.

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Conclusion: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Soil Future in Europe

The EU Soil Mission's Soil Week proved to be an illuminating and transformative event, setting the stage for concerted efforts to address the critical issue of soil health in Europe. With a focus on customized solutions, living labs, and international collaboration, the mission is paving the way for a sustainable future where healthy soils form the bedrock of biodiversity, biological production, and overall environmental well-being. As the Soil Mission continues to gain momentum, it is evident that a collective and interdisciplinary approach is essential to realizing the ambitious goals set forth for the health of European soils.