What is the status of soil loss and land degradation globally – are we in fact “Losing Ground?” This was the theme of Global Soil Week 2013, held in Berlin from 27 to 31 October. The conference brought together a wide array of international stakeholders from academia, civil society, business, and policy to discuss three major thematic areas within the "nexus" (the interconnected relationship between water, energy, and food security). The thematic areas explored were: Understanding soils in the nexus, Managing the nexus, and Creating sustainable pathways to societal change. Ecologic Institute hosted two dialogue sessions and contributed to a workshop during this conference.
During the first day of conference meetings, Ecologic Institute hosted a session titled Soil carbon management for sustaining agricultural productivity in collaboration with the CCRI, JRC, and IASS. The presentations reviewed the current understanding of best practices for management of soil carbon with a view towards sustaining agricultural productivity, focusing predominantly on socio-economic and behavioral barriers to soil carbon management, innovative financing instruments and incentives, and European and global policies towards effective soil carbon management. A World Café discussion facilitated the dialogue between the regionally and globally diverse stakeholders in order to gain valuable insights as to how the issue of soil carbon can be mainstreamed into crop and soil management and policy formulation.
Sandra Naumann, who is a Senior Fellow at Ecologic Institute, provided the welcome address for the session and Ana Frelih-Larsen, Senior Fellow at Ecologic Institute, gave a presentation regarding "European policies towards effective soil managment" during the session. Ecologic Institute is a member of the SmartSOIL consortium, a FP7 project assessing the impact of sustainable and climate friendly agricultural management practices on soil carbon in the EU, which was instrumental in proposing the session’s content and formulating its design.
Ecologic Institute co-hosted another session on the second day of conference meetings with ZALF, ICRISAT, IAEA/FAO and IASS. The title of the session was Integrated governance for energy security and sustainable land use, which aimed at fostering knowledge exchange between various stakeholders about sustainable land use in the context of transforming energy systems. Cross-discipline and cross-stakeholder partnership opportunities were explored for operationalizing integrated governance of land in the nexus, such as models and techniques contributing to informed policy making and different modes of governance. The potential and limitation of international policy to impact sustainable land use was also highlighted. Together with Franziska Wollf (Oeko-Institut), Ecologic Institute Senior Fellow Stephanie Wunder presented on "Global governance perspectives for sustainable land use: 'Blind spots' and 'windows of opportunity'".
On the final day of the conference, Ecologic Institute together with the European Commission, IASS, the UNCCD Secretariat and the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) contributed to the planning, coordination, and presentation of a workshop on Global Governance for Sustainable Land and Soil Management. Due to its involvement in the GLOBALANDS project, Ecologic Institute led the discussion on the opportunities and challenges of different international policy mechanisms and the role of global governance in scaling up sustainable land use and soil management.