IEEP’s response to the European Commission's public consultation on the new Soil Strategy

Healthy multifunctional soils are key to put the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy into action. In light of the consultation on the new Soil Strategy, IEEP puts forward three main recommendations to ensure soils are adequately considered and protected in future EU initiatives.

The quality and health of soil is pivotal to sustain biodiversity, food production and clean water. Soil demonstrates diverse functions and is of great importance to agriculture. Healthy soils are less prone to erosion, and they filter our drinking water. Currently, European soils are under threat, experiencing great pressure on biodiversity and soil organic matter.

As part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the European Commission is launching a review of the “Soil Thematic Strategy” which aims at addressing soil degradation and preserving land resources. The new EU Soil Strategy will focus on soil- and land-related issues, with the aim to help achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. The public consultation invited citizens and organisations to contribute to the preparation of the new Soil Strategy.

IEEP’s response to the public consultation was based on our involvement in the Mission Assembly ‘Soil Health and Food’, project work under the H2020 project iSQAPER and our analyses of the Farm to Fork strategy and the Biodiversity strategy in relation with the European Green Deal objectives. Three main themes framed the contribution:

  • Differentiated use of soil quality and soil health parameters, and links to progress indicators for the objectives
  • Enhancing the architecture of the strategy with two new pillars for hotspot issues and international issue
  • Political developments in the ENVI committee of the European Parliament

A look at the current legislative structure for the protection of soils shows how insufficiently the 2006 soil strategy is adapted to the current situation. Soils are globally facing ever greater pressure, from sealing to contamination resulting from agricultural and industrial activities. Specifically for the Biodiversity Strategy, soils play a key role – holding 25% of global biodiversity. Among other points, IEEP encourages the legal framework for soils to focus on new objectives aligned to the SDGs, the Paris Agreement and respond to challenges addressed in the European Green Deal.

IEEP’s response to the European Commission’s public consultation drew from a number of papers – references within – Hiller, Hulot, Kollenda (2020), Allen, Hiller, Hulot (2020), Mäder, Bünemann (2020), as well as its membership to the Soil Mission Assembly and its project work (mentioned above).