Last 8 February, the Nature Conservancy, Cornell University and the 4 per 1000 Initiative organised a joint workshop, hosted by the Hoffman Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy. This invitation-only event explored the potential creation of synergies in terms of investment and action on soil organic carbon storage and sequestration. It sought to better understand the results of scientific studies on soil organic carbon to feed into the decision-making processes of the various public and private economic sectors.
This event followed the Chatham House rules, whereby participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker, nor that of any participant may be revealed. Only the final document, summarising the debate, is made publicly available.
This approach was chosen given that fostering an open dialogue between the scientific world and the political world is no easy task, in particular when there is a need for concrete results. What’s more, there is a growing awareness on the current economic and political stage that the challenge of climate change needs to be addressed seriously (see article in newsletter n.45 on the World Economic Forum report.
The final summary makes for an interesting read, not only for its success stories, but also because it voices opinions and ideas that, as soil experts, we hardly ever think about. For instance, best practices in terms of conservation could be rewarded through the increase of land value, leading to higher competitiveness. Or they could also be rewarded by offering better interest rates on insurance services and premiums. Here, financial support is intended to give momentum to the protection of soil fertility. Yet, this approach will require technical assistance and scientific knowledge on soil organic carbon storage (mapping, parameters, measuring systems, etc.).
To conclude, “rather than viewing the value of soil organic carbon as an independent resource, it is better understood if seen as a keystone within a wider programme aiming to strengthen environmental health, productivity, asset value and natural capital through landscapes.”
Here you can find the complete report entitled “Soils & climate: from hidden depths to centre stage?”