Participants in the Planet A® session held 27-28 June 2019 at Chalons en Champagne in France with the title “Land Matter Planet – Quality of the soil for the health of life“, drew up and signed an appeal to those responsible for decision-making in Europe. We are reproducing it here in its entirety because of its importance. In addition to various office holders in the 4 per 1000 Initiative, the lead signatory is Rattan Lal, professor of soil science and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 2007 to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
LIVING SOILS, A GLOBAL PUBLIC GOOD
“Preserving and restoring terrestrial ecosystems, including soils and forests, by ensuring their sustainable management, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity”: This is one of the 17 sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. For us scientists, observers and cultivators of land and soil, the focus on soil is a vital imperative.
Soil, the thin layer that is the interface between the surface of our planet’s rocky crust and the air around it, is the very essence of all life on Earth. It retains water, recycles the elements, feeds fauna and flora, produces our food, stores carbon, helps ecosystems to be resilient to climate shocks and is home of countless living organisms, which account for a quarter of the world’s biodiversity.
Soil health is essential to all living species and ecosystems. Its degradation puts the environmental cycles that underpin life at risk: food security, water quality, air quality, the ability to buffer climate change, peaceful coexistence between people. But soils are fragile, they are a limited resource, and they are irreplaceable.
We no longer have time to wait for nature to restore soil balance. Today, one third of the Earth’s soils are degraded. Deforestation, sealing, agriculture intensification, chemical pollution, salinization: human activities are accelerating and further aggravating degradation, which impoverish land to the point of killing it. Reversing this process is essential and possible.
For our planet to remain living, it is urgent to protect soils through institutional support and incentive schemes. It is urgent to go beyond the simple, non-deterrent rules of polluter pays. It is urgent to take concrete and strong measures to encourage ecological transition of agriculture, which is the only way to sustainably feed the planet and fight climate change.
Soil protection and regeneration is humanity’s ethical and moral responsibility towards the planet. The sustainable use of soils is critical for our children and of generations to come.
We, farmers, researchers, professors, entrepreneurs, political decision-makers, representatives of civil society, all signatories of this call, solemnly call on European and global authorities to acknowledge of living soils as a global public good.
Europe, in particular, must include on its agenda, as part of a policy in favour of agriculture and the environment, a concrete and ambitious project to protect its soils, lands and territories. Rich in all its parts, the European Union must pass this ambition on to major United Nations environmental conventions and to all international institutions working on the SDGs.”