The final online event of the CIRCASA project brought together over 230 participants from across the globe to explore the strategic research agenda and take steps towards an international research consortium on soil organic carbon. The research consortium's aim is to strengthen collaboration among researchers and stakeholders to better support the scaling up of beneficial soil management for maintaining and enhancing soil carbon stocks. The effort builds on CIRCASA's three-year work of reviewing the state-of-the-art on research and gathering stakeholders' views on barriers, solutions and knowledge gaps.
On soils that are rich with soil carbon, such as peatlands, maintaining existing stocks is a key lever for mitigating climate change. The mitigation effect is limited and more uncertain on mineral soils, where carbon levels are much lower. However, maintaining and improving soil carbon levels on these mineral soils is central to soil health and an essential element of adaptation to climate impacts.
CIRCASA's research agenda
The strategic agenda developed in CIRCASA proposes four pillars of action.
- Pillar 1 focuses on combining big data, artificial intelligence and ecological theories to improve the understanding of the role of agricultural management for soil health.
- Pillar 2 aims to advance the setting up of an international standard for the monitoring, reporting and verification of soil carbon.
- Pillar 3 is dedicated to agro-ecological and technological innovations.
- Pillar 4 focuses on advancing an enabling environment for farmers. This includes understanding and piloting institutional, legal and economic solutions.
To make research effective as a driver for scaling up beneficial management of soil carbon, participants agreed that the research agenda has to continuously align with knowledge needs, integrating the pillars named above and insights from various scientific disciplines. CIRCASA consultation with stakeholders also points to the need to deliver place-based knowledge, tailored guidance for stakeholders, and ensure that knowledge is accessible to stakeholders. Participatory co-creation with stakeholders can ensure that the above principles are put into practice and research delivers knowledge that is useful and accessible.
Affirming the need for improved collaboration, stakeholders from around the world, including China, Russia, Australia, Madagascar and US, and from different backgrounds such as private businesses and non-governmental organisations expressed their interest in collaborating with the international research consortium.