Soil is a vital, non-renewable resource for ecosystems, playing an essential role in services such as water purification and food production. It is also a major global carbon sink, with significant potential to remove climate-changing gases from the atmosphere.

However, the ability of soil to deliver ecosystem services — in terms of food production, as a biodiversity pool and as a regulator of gasses, water and nutrients — is under severe pressure.

This international initiative S.O.S. SOIL – Save Organics in Soil, led by the European Compost Network (ECN) and the Italian Composting and Biogas Association (CIC),  aims to highlight the importance of soil organic matter to encourage policy makers to develop instruments to move Europe towards implementing sustainable, climate proof soil management practices.

 

The main Priority Goals of the S.O.S. SOIL Initiative is to:

  • Increase Soil organic matter in arable soils
  • Encourage a more efficient management of nutrients on agricultural land
  • Protect the existing stock of carbon in soils
  • Minimize further losses of carbon from cultivated carbon rich soils

 

The MANIFESTO abstract

Main Priority Goals of the ‘SOS – Save Organics in Soil’ Initiative

To encourage policy makers to develop instruments to move Europe towards implementing sustainable, climate-proof land management practices, according to the priorities

ENCOURAGING

the use of recycled nutrients and a more efficient management of nutrients on agricultural land. This would not only benefit the climate but also be particularly beneficial to improve water and air quality

INCREASING

soil organic matter in arable soils

ENSURING

that the European Union (EU) adopts legislative measures for protecting soils

MINIMIZING

further losses of carbon from cultivated carbon rich soils

MAINTAINING

a high level of organic fertility in soil by applying stable organic matter from biomass

PROTECTING

the existing stock of carbon in soils

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SOS Soil

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Press

LATEST PROJECT UPDATES

All the news of the project, read the news and the press review with the press releases.

Two new factsheets on the sustainable use of compost published

Bochum, 28 May 2020

ECN publishes two new factsheets in its publication edition 'Sustainable use of Compost & Digestate'

ICAW 2020: joined press release by international composting organisations

World, 3-9 May 2020

Compost organisations across the world, including ECN embrace the annual week of compost awareness raising.

Biocycle Workshop

Sacramento, 30 March 2020

Compost Use In Agriculture: Healthy Soils, Sequestering Carbon Workshop & Demos

Organized by: BioCycle, UC Davis, Agricultural Sustainability Institute Calfornia Climate Investments

ECN Feedback – Roadmap on a Climate Law

Bochum, 20 February 2020

ECN calls for setting up a mandatory target to build up soil organic matter
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Valentine’s Day 2020 – Love Soil and sign the SOS Initiative Save Organics in Soil

World, 14 Februar 2020

Today, it is a good opportunity to express your love to soil - Make a gift and sign the Save Organics in Soil Initiative!

Soil loves compost – The topic for the 2020 annual week of compost awareness

World, 3-9 May 2020

Compost organisations across the world, including ECN embrace the annual week of compost awareness raising.

Feedback on the Roadmap on the new Circular Economy Action Plan

Bochum, January 31st 2020

ECN wellcomes the initiative of the European Commission to adopt a new Circular Economy Action Plan

Soil and Sustainable development Goals: Challenges and the Need for Action

DG ENV Conference, 25 November 2019

The SGDs were launched by the UN in 2015 and aim to provide a blueprint for peace and prosperity for the planet

MANIFESTO - SAVE ORGANICS IN SOIL

THE ROLE OF THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS – SDGS
At the global level, the notion of preserving soil functionality has been embedded in the land-degradation-neutrality concept as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS, agreed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The SDGS also include targets on soil quality, soil contamination, the management of chemicals and waste. Implementation of the SDGS can provide an important vehicle for soil protection measures in Europe.

EUROPEAN UNION SOIL ORGANIC MATTER DEGRADATION
A Technical Report issued in November 2015 by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research pointed out that CO, emissions by EU soil organic matter losses amount to 173 M ton CO,/year: it means that the EU is, after Indonesia and before the Russian Federation, the World’s second largest emission hotspot due to organic soil degradation, mainly induced by human activities.

EUROPE’S TRANSITION TOWARDS A CIRCULAR AND GREEN ECONOMY
Land-use data at European level, although underestimated, display an annual trend of approximately 100.000 hectares of land lost per year because of sprawling growth of settlements and infrastructures over green fields. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA) land recycling, such as reusing neglected sites and turning roads or parking lots to green spaces or residential areas, can have positive impacts on the environment and support Europe’s transition towards a circular and green economy.

EU RESEARCH AND INNOVATION PROGRAMMES
The Seventh Environment Action Programme, which entered into force in January 2014, recognises that soil degradation is a serious challenge. It provides that by 2020 land is managed sustainably in the Union, soil is adequately protected and commits the EU and its Member States to increasing efforts to reduce soil erosion and increase soil organic matter and to remediate contaminated sites. The subsequent Horizon 2020 programme stresses the importance of increasing organic matter in soils as a way of improving soil fertility, increasing agricultural production, and mitigating climate change. However, only a few EU Member States have specific legislation on soil protection. Currently soil is not subject to a comprehensive and coherent set of rules in the Union. Existing EU policies in areas such as agriculture, water, waste, chemicals, and prevention of industrial pollution do indirectly contribute to the protection of soils. But since these policies have other aims and scopes, they are not sufficient tools to ensure an adequate level of protection for soils in Europe.

THE LACK OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION STRATEGY
The conclusions of the recently issued ‘Inventory and Assessment of Soil Protection Policy Instruments in EU Member States’ (Feb 2017), commissioned by the EC, highlight that the lack of a coherent, strategic EU policy framework is not consistent with the objectives of an economic and political Union that should provide for uniformity of rules, and ensure equal opportunities for citizens and businesses, with a common level of environmental and health protection.

THERE IS NO COMPREHENSIVE EU POLICY TOOL
According to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN, we are striving for a land degradation neutral world by the year 2030. The European Commission wants to achieve no more net land take in Europe by 2050 at the latest. Yet no comprehensive EU policy tool to achieve that goal in a well coherent and coordinated way is in place.