Land and soils are essential for life on Earth. Yet one third of the global land is considered as degraded and this process is continuing due to higher food production, urbanization and industrial activity. In a new Horizon 2020 project, Ecologic Institute develops a roadmap for research and innovation on soil systems and land management – jointly with stakeholders. The Soil Mission Support project will thus improve coordination in this field and support the EU Mission on Soil Health and Food, the European Green Deal, and contribute to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In a study for DG FISMA, the Ecologic Institute and its partners supported the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance in the development of technical screening criteria for agriculture activities to be included in the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy. The tasks included: 1) scoping of agriculture activities with significant potential to contribute to mitigation and adaptation; 2) drafting of criteria, metrics and thresholds to ensure that selected activities substantially contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and do not significantly harm any other environmental objectives; 3) supporting research on means for compliance checking; 4) organising a workshop with expert group members; and 5) preparing inputs to support the Impact Assessment of the agricultural components of the Taxonomy. The outcomes of the study were integrated in the Technical Report on EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy.
With three quarters of the European Union's population living in cities and further increases expected, societies are increasingly facing socio-political shifts and marginalization. Limited availability of physical space, changing urban demographics, and increasing cultural diversity compound these challenges and create issues like high crime rates, social inequality, poverty, health threats, and unemployment. Some areas are particularly vulnerable, such as economically deprived, abandoned and neglected urban areas with a low share of green spaces. The Horizon2020 funded project “CLEVER Cities” responds to these challenges by designing and implementing locally tailored nature-based solutions (NBS) to foster sustainable and socially inclusive urban regeneration.
A consortium including Ecologic Institute has been commissioned by the European Commission to provide support in the evaluation of the contribution of Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and Floods Directive (FD).
Ecologic Institute provides a legal assessment of whether German law is suitable to achieve the sustainable development goal "land degradation neutral word" (LDN) by 2030, and recommends options for improvement.
The project also compiles key insights and lessons learned, in English, as a contribution to the international discussion on implementing LDN. The project results are discussed in an international workshop.
The project Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals for Soils aimed to examine how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Target 15.3 on 'Land Degradation Neutrality' could be implemented in Germany and at the global level. Ecologic Institute analysed potential indicators, developed an own indicator concept build on land use changes and developed policy recommendations to implement the SDG 15.3.
Fertile soils are an indispensable resource for agriculture and the Bioeconomy as a whole. Subsoils contain a major part of the nutrients essential for plants, a resource potential that has thus far not yet been fully understood nor used. In order to harness this untapped potential, the Soil³ project examines the subsoil processes and application of alternative subsoil management measures. The Ecologic Institute will conduct research on the costs, benefits and social acceptance of these measures.
Veterinary medicinal products (VMPs) and their metabolites are increasingly becoming the focus of scientific and public debate as environmental contaminants. The project developed an overview of research results, mitigation measures and concepts to reduce the inputs of veterinary pharmaceuticals into the environment. The results are summarised in the handbook "Concepts for Mitigating Veterinary Pharmaceutical Inputs from Agriculture into the Environment."
Inefficient use of fertilisers leads to the accumulation of nutrients in areas of intense agricultural activities and can cause serious environmental problems in these areas and beyond. Those problems stem from the disturbance of natural mineral cycles, partly resulting from the extraction of elements in one location and being applied elsewhere. Furthermore, the production of fertilizers consumes natural resources, such as energy, water, and non-renewable mineral resources that contain necessary elements.
Over the last 5 years, the RECARE project applied a transdisciplinary approach, actively integrating and advancing knowledge of stakeholders and scientists in 17 case studies, to identify and develop effective measures for improved soil protection in Europe. Ecologic Institute developed policy briefs on the topics "Soil Sealing and Land Take", "Subsoil compaction" and "Remediating Historical Soil Contamination, as well as co-wrote the brochure with the most important project findings. The policy briefs and the project brochure are available for download.
Fertile land areas to produce agricultural and forestry products are globally only available in a limited amount. The land footprint is a suitable indicator in order to assist the analysis of global land use related to consumption of a country or region and to monitor land use. Within this study a review of land flow studies and accounting methodologies is undertaken in order to elaborate recommendation for the methodology of future land footprint calculations. However, the land footprint is as an area-based indicator and unable to illustrate a large number of land-related environmental issues. The project therefore also provides an overview and discussion on possible environmental impact oriented indicators. Finally, the project team undertakes a calculation of possible indicators for the case of Germany based on the developed recommendations.