The European Commission will invest €90 million in 17 new research projects contributing to the EU Mission: ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’. These projects will work on restoring and protecting soil health for the sustainable production of healthy food, protecting biodiversity, building climate resilience, and contributing to the European Green Deal objectives.
The projects gather 314 participants from 32 countries. Besides EU Member States, the countries are Horizon Europe associated countries (Israel, Kosovo, Norway, Serbia and Turkey), but also non-associated (the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Switzerland). The projects include universities, research institutions, SMEs, businesses, NGOs and local authorities.
They will deliver a wide variety of benefits for the restoration and protection of soil health by 2030, such as:
Creating a knowledge and data repository to integrate research and innovation knowledge on soil and soil health;
Reducing food processing waste and valorising residues to produce and test organic soil improvers and fertilising products;
Delivering indicators to measure soil biodiversity and ecosystem services (e.g. agroecosystems and forest ecosystems);
Providing tools and methods to identify sources of soil pollution, and to improve the implementation of cost-effective sustainable land management in urban and rural areas;
Promoting the implementation of carbon farming, methodology standardisation and certification mechanisms for soil carbon accounting;
Developing a framework to monitor, report and verify land managers’ efforts to sequester carbon dioxide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
Co-creating materials, guidelines, curriculum standards, and training on soil education;
Setting up a one-stop-shop structure to support, enlarge and promote the upcoming network of 100 Mission Soil Living Labs and Lighthouses, which will start running from next year;
Reducing incineration, landfilling and enhance nutrient recovery from bio-waste.
The 17 new projects were selected by independent experts, following a call for proposals launched in 2022 which received 71 eligible applications. Most of the projects have already started. The projects will be managed by the European Research Executive Agency (REA). More details on the projects, including budget and beneficiaries, can be found in the overview of projects.
Established under the Horizon Europe programme for the years 2021-2027, EU Missions are a new way to bring concrete solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges. The EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ was launched in September 2021. It aims at leading the transition to restore and protect soils by 2030. It will do so by establishing an effective network of 100 living labs and lighthouses, funding an ambitious research and innovation programme with a strong social science component, developing a harmonised framework for soil monitoring in Europe, and raising people’s awareness on the vital importance of soil.
Together with the EU Soil Strategy, the proposal for a Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience (Soil Monitoring Law), the EU Soil Observatory (EUSO), the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and other policy developments, the Mission Soil is part of an effective framework to meet the Green Deal ambitions. These actions play a key role in protecting biodiversity, achieving healthy food and water, and increasing resilience against natural disasters such as wildfires and floods.
Organisations and individuals can sign the Mission Soil Manifesto to voice support to the Mission and its objectives and become part of a community of practice which stands up for the importance of soil health and cares for the future of European and global soils.
There are four other EU missions covering global challenges in the areas of climate-neutral and smart cities, adaptation to climate change, restoring our ocean and waters and cancer. They support Commission priorities, such as the European Green Deal, Europe fit for the Digital Age, Beating Cancer and the New European Bauhaus.