On 5 December 2016, World Soil Day, an EU Soil stakeholders' Conference took place in Brussels. The conference aimed at raising awareness about the importance of soils and the ecosystem services that they deliver, and to contribute to the implementation of the EU Soil Thematic Strategy. The proceedings are available for download.
The plenary presentations highlighted the importance of soils for the delivery of ecosystem services along with the threats to soil health and the current international responses. This was supplemented with the presentation of results from the project on the 'Updated Inventory and assessment of soil protection instruments in the EU Member States'. This project, funded by DG Environment and coordinated by Ecologic Institute, developed an inventory of soil related policies at both EU and MS levels in order to provide a comprehensive review of how Member States' instruments complement and address the gaps identified in EU legislation. The presentations of the conference can be found at the conference website.
The conference also provided a forum for gathering the views, ideas and priorities from a range of stakeholders in smaller working groups and in plenary discussions. The discussions offered rich ideas for further work in the area of soil protection - from the need to provide common definitions relevant for soil protection to raising awareness on the role of soil in climate-related policies to concrete actions, such as developing of integrated spatial planning policy and making the most of synergies between public-private partnerships motivating further action.
Attended by nearly 200 stakeholders from different backgrounds including representatives of the European Commission, farmers' unions, business, NGOs, Member States and regional authorities, the conference enabled a dialogue around the current state of play in EU soil policy and ways for moving forward to address the persisting degradation of soils in the EU. This structured dialogue was highlighted as essential in developing future policy on soil in the EU.