What this EU Mission deals with
The main goal of the Mission 'A Soil Deal for Europe' is to establish 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.
Life on Earth depends on healthy soils. Soil is the foundation of our food systems. It provides clean water and habitats for biodiversity while contributing to climate resilience. It supports our cultural heritage and landscapes and is the basis of our economy and prosperity.
However, it is estimated that between 60 and 70% of EU soils are unhealthy. Soil is a fragile resource that needs to be carefully managed and safeguarded for future generations. One centimetre of soil can take hundreds of years to form, but can be lost in just a single rainstorm or industrial incident.
The Mission leads the transition towards healthy soils by
- funding an ambitious research and innovation programme with a strong social science component
- putting in place an effective network of 100 living labs and lighthouses to co-create knowledge, test solutions and demonstrate their value in real-life conditions
- developing a harmonised framework for soil monitoring in Europe
- raising people’s awareness on the vital importance of soils
The 8 Mission objectives
- reduce desertification
- conserve soil organic carbon stocks
- stop soil sealing and increase re-use of urban soils
- reduce soil pollution and enhance restoration
- prevent erosion
- improve soil structure to enhance soil biodiversity
- reduce the EU global footprint on soils
- improve soil literacy in society
The Mission will support the EU’s ambition to lead on global commitments, notably the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and contribute to the European Green Deal targets on sustainable farming, climate resilience ,biodiversity and zero-pollution. It is also a flagship initiative of the long-term vision for rural areas.
To know more about how the Mission will achieve its goal, read the Mission implementation plan.
Mission living labs and lighthouses
Living labs are places where to experiment on the ground. Soil health living labs will be partnerships between multiple partners and different actors, like researchers, farmers, foresters, spatial planners, land managers, and citizens who come together to co-create innovations for a jointly agreed objective. Living Labs will be established at territorial, landscape or regional scale, with several experimental sites covered underneath.
This is an innovative way to do research and innovation: in a Living Lab, experimentations happen in real-life conditions, operating with end-users i.e. commercial farms or forest exploitations, real urban green parks or industrial sites, and other actors such as NGOs or local authorities. This is key to make sure that research and innovation find solutions to societal challenges and challenges that land managers face on the ground.
Lighthouses are single sites, like a farm or a park, where to showcase good practices. These are places for demonstration and peer-to-peer learning. Here good practices are tested or in place and can be showed to inspire other practitioners to move towards sustainable land management. In addition, in lighthouse sites, researchers work together with land managers to ensure that research responds to concrete needs encountered in the field.
The Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’: 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils.
- EU missions, sols sains pour l'EuropeDownloadfrançais(311.5 KB - HTML)
Mission Soil Manifesto
We are calling on regions, municipalities, private or public companies, organisations, associations, schools, educational institutes, universities, research institutions and a wide range of stakeholders as well as individuals to sign the Mission Soil Manifesto and become part of a community that cares for soil.
Please click below to sign the Mission Soil Manifesto
New funding opportunities are open to contribute to the Mission Soil.
There are 9 different topics open for the submission of proposals. The projects are called to work on subsoil; soil pollution and digital tools; innovations to prevent and combat desertification; soil-friendly practices in horticulture; spatial planning; cultural and creative initiatives for bringing communities closer to soil, and establish the first wave of Living Labs.
There are also 2 joint calls with the Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030 and the Mission Adaptation to Climate Change.
The Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023 - EU Missions is published.
Calls for applications are open and will close on 20 September 2023.
At the moment, around 80 new project proposals responding to the Mission call 2022 are under evaluation.
What are EU Missions?
EU Missions are a new way to bring concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges. They have ambitious goals and will deliver tangible results by 2030.
They will deliver impact by putting research and innovation into a new role, combined with new forms of governance and collaboration, as well as by engaging citizens.
EU Missions are a novelty of the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme for the years 2021-2027.
Video and interactive
- co-design session on mission area soil health and food at Research and Innovation Days 2019
- handover of the EU Missions final reports at the Research and Innovation Days 2020
- citizen engagement session at the Research and Innovation Days 2020
- The Mission Soil, the CAP and carbon farming
- Soil health and food
- Soil matters
- Mission Soil Panorama
- Horizon magazine: Bringing Europe’s soils back to life
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- News article
The EU Mission Soil launches its Manifesto
Today, the European Commission and the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) held the launch event of the Mission Soil Manifesto. The launch event was a key milestone for the success of the EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’.
- News article
Innovating through Experimentation: The European Commission’s new project promoting more experimental innovation policy
The three-year project will boost the use of the experimental approach in R&I policy through three axes: learning, experimenting and disseminating
- News article
Commission launches new calls worth over €600 million to support research and innovation under EU Missions
New calls under Horizon Europe 2023-2024 work programme open to support the objectives of the EU Missions
- News article
Info-days for EU Missions to take place between 17 and 18 January 2023
The European Commission announced today a new series of info days dedicated to EU Missions to be held virtually between 17 and 18 January 2023
Follow the latest progress and get involved.
World soil day 2022 events
- FAO - World Soil Day Ceremony “Soils: Where food begins” (Hybrid format)
- Soil Health Conference "Harnessing biodiversity for better agronomy" (Brussels)
- Forum for the Future of Agriculture Conference “Building the transatlantic partnership for a more resilient and sustainable, and climate-smart food and agriculture system” (The conference will be recorded, but not streamed live, and each session will be available later on the website)
- Portugal - Dia Mundial do Solo: onde a alimentação começa! Gestão sustentável do Solo em Viticultura
- Albania - Konferencë shkencore me rastin e Ditës Botërore të Tokës (Tiranë)
- Training and workshops
Jump-start the Mission Soil - Cluster event of projects funded under the EU Mission 'A Soil Deal for Europe'
- 22 - 23 March 2023
Adaptation to climate change
Support at least 150 European regions and communities towards climate resilience by 2030
EU Mission: Cancer
improving the lives of more than 3 million people by 2030 through prevention, cure and for those affected by cancer including their families, to live longer and better
Restore our Ocean and Waters
The Mission will help achieve the marine and freshwater targets of the European Green Deal
Climate-neutral and smart cities
Deliver 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030 and ensure that these cities act as experimentation and innovation hubs to enable all European cities to follow suit by 2050