Why Soil matters?: A European perspective

Wednesday, 18 Nov 2015 09:30

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Soil is a living ecosystem, which is essential for human and environmental health. A healthy living soil sustains biodiversity, protects and nourishes crops and contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation. But soil is under threat today. We lose an estimated 24 billion tons of fertile soil each year due to erosion, while many of the soil functions that  are delivered for free to provide productive, fertile and nutritious food systems are destroyed because we systematically sterilise our soils with agro-chemicals, and then farmers pay again to replace those lost functions.   Without protecting the soil, bringing it back to life and building topsoil , it will be impossible to feed people, keep global warming below 2°C, transition to a toxic-free future, halt the loss of biodiversity and adapt to the challenges of climate change and extreme weather events.

2015 is the UN Year of soil. This year has been the occasion to put the issue of soil back on the political agenda. Many events worldwide have raised concerns about the importance of soil.

Now is time to bring the issue back on the European political agenda: Why Soils matter? What can we do at EU level to assure a healthy living soil, basis of our food systems and essential to prevent climate change?

This session will discuss the links between soils, food security and climate, and how this interconnectivity is dealt with at a European level. It will involves high level speakers from the academic world and share practical approaches from field actors, working on the ground to preserve healthy living soils. The event will bring a European perspective to major ongoing global debates, such as the discussion around sustainable food policies and agroecology and the upcoming Climate Summit (COP21).

Programme

9.30-10.00

Introduction 

Welcome words and moderator by Michael Hamell, Adjunct Professor of Agriculture at University College Dublin  

Introduction by MEP Maria Heubuch - followed by short movie screening

Keynote speaker, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Alternative Nobel Prize winner, Author of 'Soil not Oil 'and 'The living Soil'

10.00-11.10

PANEL 1: HEALTHY LIVING SOIL: THE BASIS FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS

Introduction by MEP Martin Hausling

Academics and field actors' view:

  • Professor Christine Watson, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
  • Valo Dantinne, Agroecological Gardener and Trainer, Terre et Humanisme

Response from the European Commission:

  • Claudia Olazabal, Head of Unit Agriculture, Forests and Soil, DG environment

Debate with the audience

11.10-11.40

Awareness rising opportunity

Introduction by MEP Molly Scott Cato

Story telling by Barbara Geiger alias Fräulein Brehm

Shared Presentation of the projects ‘Soil Culture at Create - a Recipe for Soil Guardianship’ and ‘People4Soil’

11.40- 12.50

SECOND PANEL:  HEALTHY SOILS, CLIMATE-FRIENDLY FOOD:  RAISING OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE COP21

Introduction by MEP Bart Staes

  • Teresa Anderson, Action aid:  Clever name, losing game - How climate-smart agriculture is sowing confusion in the food movement
  • Hans-Joachim Mautschke from Gut Krauscha, Germany, Farmer from SOLMACC project 'Organic Farmers countering Climate Change'

Response from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  • Moujahed Achouri, Director Land & Water Division, FAO
  • Jenny Wong - UNFCCC

Debate with the audience

12.50-13.00

Conclusions

Joszi Smeets, Director Youth Food Movement: Give youth a say on soil  

Concluding statements and next steps: Michael Hamell

The Greens/European Free Alliance