Follow up to the Round Table “Soil is Life, is Food, is Future” (SLFF)

The Round Table held on 28 June set in motion a process of analysis and a production of ideas that will need further work.  The work of transcribing the contributions has started, and should be completed by the middle of September. Then will follow the preparation of recommendations for COP26 which will be sent out for comment and analysis.

Readers of this Newsletter will be invited to send in their comments.

Some readers have asked us to create an Italian version of the minutes of the Round Table. Unfortunately we are currently unable to undertake this task as we are busy with preparing recommendations and texts to be published in English. If a group of volunteers would like to undertake the translation, however, we would be very happy to work with them.

Below are the links to the complete recording of the Round Table on YouTube and to the videos made available by the event “Soil is Life, is Food, is Future”: 

·        Complete recording: https://youtu.be/vnExBaT8PzM

·        Video “I am the soil” with Riccardo Mei: https://youtu.be/kMpOHMLmjD8

·        Video “Lumbricus terrestris” with Barbara Geiger”: https://youtu.be/3_dz30F7I5Y

         (5 minute version produced exclusively for this event)

·        Video “Lumbricus terrestris” with Barbara Geiger”:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVT8B-jKH3Q (complete version, 15 minutes)



Take some “maverick” farmers who practise regenerative farming, add some switched-on chefs and their customers, mix well with openminded artists, cultural practitioners and environmentalists, and you get SOILMATES. This is the recipe used to create this nonprofit initiative in Belgium.

“Starting from the assumption that fertile soil is the key to preserve all life, Soilmates’ goal is to create awareness by giving a visibility to the soil. Through artistic performances and culinary experiences they invite people to awaken their senses and to step into the unexpected world of the hidden half of nature.

SOILMATES are people willing to think holistically about the web of life. Their aim “is to create a paradigm shift in which the living earth becomes the center of the culinary and artistic experience, rather than the chef, the artist or the farmer. The soil becomes the subject.”

Healthy soil is the basis for healthy farming and for highly nutritious food full of rediscovered flavours and smells that allow us to enjoy again foods and products that are precious both to us and to future generations. The initiative, which was started by a number of well-known chefs, has expanded rapidly, gathering new members and supporters. This has led to the creation of food training days in different areas of Brussels.

The Days are dedicated “to the transmission, sharing of knowledge and reflection around the living soil.” It will not be a question of “boring” presentations of more or less scientific themes but of various talks, artistic performances and workshops on the life hidden in the soil. An 8-hour programme never seen before, creative, poetic and daring, dedicated to our relationship with the SOIL.

More info from Soilmates – Belgium: info@soilmates.be / https://soilmates.be/


Round Table “Soil is Life, is Food, is Future”

The Round Table “Soil is life, is Food, is Future” has taken place successfully. More than 250 people from around 30 countries registered. Most were from the EU but there were also participants in South America, Africa, the US and Asia.

The event lasted three rather intense hours, broken up by 2 videos and some illustrations to allow participants to reset attention and concentration.  

It is hard to sum up the content of the discussion in a few lines, but the most important outcome was undoubtedly that dialogue between participants with different interests in the soil is possible. The round table structure and approach can be repeated and used at different levels, from the territorial to the local to the national.

Three hours are not enough to obtain a shared document, so the work now begins of drawing up the agreed recommendations to send to COP26. An initial draft will be sent to all participants in July, the recording of the entire event and the 2 videos shown during the meeting are already available on YouTube.

The whole event “Soil is Life, is Food, is Future” registration: https://youtu.be/vnExBaT8PzM

“I am the soil” video with Riccardo Mei:  https://youtu.be/kMpOHMLmjD8

“Lumbricus terrestris” video with Barbara Geiger: https://youtu.be/3_dz30F7I5Y

Forum SIP

Tavola rotonda “Soil is Life, is Food, is Future”

Si è svolta la tavola rotonda “Soil is life, is Food, is Future“, oltre 250 persone si sono registrate da circa 30 nazioni differenti, principalmente dell’Unione Europea, ma anche dal Sud America, dall’Africa, dagli USA e dall’Asia.

Sono state tre ore intense, scandite da due video e da alcuni disegni che hanno potuto rilanciare l’attenzione e la concentrazione dei partecipanti.  

Difficile riassumere in poche righe i contenuti del dibattito, il risultato più importante è sicuramente che il dialogo tra attori con interessi diversi sul suolo è possibile. La struttura e l’approccio della tavola rotonda può essere ripetuta e utilizzata a vari livelli dal territoriale al locale al nazionale.

Tre ore non sono sufficienti per ottenere un documento condiviso, pertanto comincia ora la messa a punto delle raccomandazioni condivise da inviare alla COP26. Una prima bozza verrà inviata a luglio a tutti i partecipanti, la registrazione integrale dell’incontro sarà messa rapidamente su YouTube, mentre i due video proiettati durante l’incontro sono già accessibili.

Video “I am the soil” di Riccardo Mei:      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMpOHMLmjD8

Video “Lumbricus terrestris” di Barbara Geiger”: https://youtu.be/3_dz30F7I5Y


Webmeeting – Soil is Life, is Food, is the Future

The SIP Forum together with its partner association “Lasolastrada” is organising a webmeeting in English on 28 June (18:00-21:00) with the title: “Soil is Life, is Food, is the Future“. The meeting is included in the list of events of the “All4Climate – Italy 2021” Programme promoting 2021 as the Year of Climate Ambition, @PreCop26ITA and @Connect4Climate using the hashtag #All4ClimateItaly2021. This means it is under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of the Environment, co-organiser with the UK of the upcoming COP26 on the Climate.

The webmeeting will be in three sections: a) identification of soil problems and solutions; b) recommendations for COP26 which will be held in Glasgow, UK in November 2021; c) the emergence of convergences – comparative analysis by commentators not involved in the round table.

The meeting will be attended by representatives from farmers’ associations, organic producers, builders, experts in land law, planners, administrators, representatives of the food industry, and of European and international institutions.

The programme is still in preparation and updates can be found on the dedicated webpage.

Places are limited, so those who wish to attend are urged to register as soon as possible HERE: https://www.lasolastrada.it/registration/

More info from: suolo.europa@gmail.com


FAO – Global Symposium on soil biodiversity 2021

The Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity (GSOBI21), ‘Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity’ took place – virtually – from 19-22 April 2021. It was organised by the FAO, its Global Soil Partnership and other international organisations. The importance of this meeting lies in its main objective: to fill some critical knowledge gaps and promote discussion among policymakers, food producers, scientists, practitioners and other stakeholders on solutions to live in harmony with nature, and ultimately, achieve the SDGs through the conservation and sustainable use of soil biodiversity.

Since it is difficult to summarise all the issues discussed, we recommend reading the documents available on the Symposium website. In brief, the event highlighted the importance of biodiversity in guaranteeing soil health for the vitality of the whole ecosystem and for human well-being. Furthermore, soil biodiversity contributes strongly to tackling environmental problems and it must be considered a natural capital asset from which ecosystem services derive.


Evaluation support study on the impact of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) on sustainable management of soil

When people want to gain time, they commission studies, research, and analysis. A lot depends on who carries out these activities. Nevertheless, the results can be useful in order to understand if and how to proceed. The report on the Evaluation of the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on the sustainable management of soil acquires particular importance, in this period of discussion of the CAP, both for the CAP itself and for the development of a new European strategy for the soil.

Who was behind this study? The Agriculture DG of the European Commission, directly. Who was it entrusted to? To the Alliance Environment European Economic Interest Group: over 20 people worked on the analysis and editing. The study considers the various regulations of the CAP since 2014 and carried out assessments in farming areas of 10 EU Member States.

In short, the report seems to us to have a solid scientific base and to have chosen the elements for evaluation well. The final result is quite clear: despite their potential, the tools of the CAP have not supported or protected the productivity and fertility of the soil. The report runs to almost 150 pages: here are a few of its typical conclusions.

Only a few of the activities necessary for soil protection are enforced at EU level. Furthermore, key activities, such as controlled traffic, no/reduced/late tillage, diversified crop rotation and compost application, as well as the limitation of plot size are in no cases enforced by the EU regulation; i.e. vulnerable areas in terms of soil quality (or susceptibility to erosion) do not benefit from specific provisions set at EU level.

Looking at the decisions by Member States and managing authorities to implement instruments and measures fostering activities for sustainable soil management, the study found that soil quality was given less importance than other environmental concerns (i.e. biodiversity and water, which benefit from legally binding EU objectives and dedicated institutions or services). This level of priority given to addressing soil quality seems to result mostly from the level of awareness among national and local authorities of the threats to soil and of their possible consequences. The absence of decrease in the growth nitrogen balance since 2010 suggests that the recent implementation of the CAP did not succeed in providing an additional contribution to the effect that previous policies had on reducing the use of fertilisers. The impact of the CAP measures and instruments on soil compaction and salinisation remains very limited, as no instrument clearly addressed those issues.

Looking at storms, droughts, fires and soil sealing as other factors that may impact soil quality, it can be observed that those events may impact very large areas and may thus very significantly impact soil quality in comparison to the impact that can be expected from the CAP. It is also important to note that degraded and bare soils are more affected by storms and droughts than sustainably managed soils, and that the frequency of extreme natural events is expected to increase in the future: this suggests the CAP measures and instruments need to scale up to counterweight, as much as possible, the effects of these events.

The needs to limit erosion, to increase carbon content in mineral soils, to protect grasslands and to ensure the maintenance of their carbon content are explicitly addressed in the CAP framework. However, the rules set at EU level are not very ambitious, and the CAP contribution to mitigate those soil threats thus depend on implementation choices taken at the level of Member States or regions.


Comitato Cittadino di San Giorgio a Cremano (Naples)

Francesco Russo, as representative of the Comitato Cittadino di San Giorgio a Cremano, has belonged to SIP at the national level for a long time.

The Committee follows and takes part in initiatives to protect the environment, the soil and land in particular. A very active core group is concerned with training young people. This led to the creation several years ago of the Università Popolare Paesi Vesuviani, headed up by Russo, which is engaged in professional training and offers the knowledge and skills needed to operate in the area of international importing and exporting for businesses offering goods and services, as well as marketing strategies for emerging economies in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. The main focus is imports and exports in the agri-food sector. Many of the teachers are managers from the big shipping companies who share their experience, understanding of practical operations, theoretical and practical knowledge and competencies, leading to employment opportunities in the sectors of marketing, international business and tourism.

Contact details: Università Popolare Paesi Vesuviani
Via E. A. Mario 6
80046 San Giorgio a Cremano (NAPOLI) Email: unisangiorgio@virgilio.it e Saverio.france.russo@gmail.com