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How food is produced has wide-reaching impacts on the environment and our ability to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. Intensification of agriculture has been a principal driver of soil degradation, water pollution, and biodiversity loss in the EU. It is widely recognized that agriculture needs to move away from overreliance on chemical interventions towards agroecological principles and nature-based solutions in order to protect rather than degrade ecosystem health.

Ecologic Institute works to support the transition towards agricultural systems that protect soils and other ecosystems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance natural carbon sinks. Drawing on a robust scientific evidence base and working closely with stakeholders, our work comprises four main areas:

We assess and inform EU policies that drive agriculture’s impact on soil health, water quality, and climate, in particular the Common Agricultural Policy, Water Framework Directive, and climate policies.

We inform and co-design efforts to scale up solutions and capacity building for mitigation and adaptation in agriculture.

We support the development of transformation pathways to reduced use of pesticides and zero pollution from agriculture.

We inform strategic research agendas to deliver the necessary knowledge and capacity for sustainable agriculture.

Our work centers on win-win solutions that benefit climate, ecosystems, and the adaptive capacity of farmers and societies.


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Land Use



Holger Gerdes
Coordinator Bioeconomy
Senior Fellow
Selected Projects for Agriculture
| ©AlexRagen |
The efforts to meet GHG emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement will require broad deployment of investments from both public and private sectors. The EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy is a classification system that defines activities which are deemed... Read more
| Fotolia © noorhaswan
Soils are an enormous reservoir of carbon, containing nearly twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. Preventing soil carbon from entering the atmosphere is essential for climate mitigation efforts. Moreover, agricultural soils also carry a large potential for additional... Read more

Coordination of International Research Cooperation on soil Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture (CIRCASA)

©2014 Erik van den Elsen (Alterra)
Soils provide a range of functions upon which humans depend, such as food production, water regulation, a physical basis for construction, biodiversity and habitat for organisms, and nutrient cycling and carbon storage. In Europe, soils are threatened by numerous... Read more

Preventing and Remediating Soil Degradation (RECARE)

| © Emilio González-Sánchez
This project, led by Ecologic Institute, aims to take stock of existing soil policy instruments in the EU in order to identify gaps in protection and to support the decision-making process for further policy action. Collaborating closely with experts from 28 EU Member... Read more

Updated Inventory and Assessment of Soil Protection Policy Instruments in EU Member States

Farming practices exert an important influence over soil functions, soil organic matter and carbon stocks, which in turn are essential to regulating greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. SmartSOIL was an EU-funded project which developed an innovative approach... Read more

Sustainable and Climate Friendly Soil Management (SmartSOIL)

All projects on Agriculture
Selected Publications for Agriculture
The Technical Expert Group (TEG) on Sustainable Finance published a proposal for an EU classification system, or a Taxonomy, which sets out screening criteria for economic activities that can contribute substantially to climate mitigation and adaptation. The taxonomy is... Read more

EU Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (ed.) 2019: Financing a Sustainable European Economy. Taxonomy. Technical Report. European Commission: Brussels.

The approach to analysis, with the different steps involved, and the role of the clusters.
Based on a comprehensive analysis of EU laws and nationally initiated policies in 28 Member States, a new study led by Ecologic Institute assesses how existing EU legislation protects soils, identifying gaps and incoherencies in policy coverage. While valuable, and in... Read more

Frelih-Larsen, A., C. Bowyer, S. Albrecht, C. Keenleyside, M. Kemper, S. Nanni, S. Naumann, R., D. Mottershead, R. Landgrebe, E. Andersen, P. Banfi, S. Bell, I. Brémere, J. Cools, S. Herbert, A. Iles, E. Kampa, M. Kettunen, Z. Lukacova, G. Moreira, Z. Kiresiewa, J. Rouillard, J. Okx, M. Pantzar, K. Paquel, R. Pederson, A. Peepson, F. Pelsy, D. Petrovic, E. Psaila, B. Šarapatka, J. Sobocka, A.-C. Stan, J. Tarpey, R. Vidaurre (2016). ‘Updated Inventory and Assessment of Soil Protection Policy Instruments in EU Member States.’ Final Report to DG Environment. Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

All publications on Agriculture
Selected Events for Agriculture
RECARE Abschlusskonferenz
What is the best way forward for soil protection in the EU? How can we improve EU policies to secure the delivery of soil ecosystem services? These questions were the focus of the final policy conference of the RECARE project which took place on 27 September 2018 in... Read more

Conference:Preventing and Remediating Degradation of Soils in Europe – RECARE Final Policy Conference

Brussels, Belgium
All events on Agriculture