Green Paper: ‘The urgent necessity of healthy soils’

Today the new Green Paper: ‘The urgent necessity of healthy soils’ is launched. With this paper Margot de Cleen (Senior Advisor Soil and Water Policy at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) and Martin Doeswijk (Director Soil & Groundwater at TAUW) are aiming to present the larger context of the urgent necessity for healthy soils. In the paper they make a connection with the EU Soil Strategy and the Mission ‘a Soil Deal for Europe’. The green paper is not a set proposal, but a starting point for debate and discussion and you are warmly invited to participate.

30 January 2023

AquaConSoil 2021: The importance of healthy soils

In 2021 Margot de Cleen and Martin Doeswijk worked together intensively as members of the organising committee of the AquaConSoil conference. AquaConSoil is an international conference and network focusing on the topics of the sustainable use and management of soil, sediment and water resources; the last edition was held in June 2021. During that edition Margot and Martin, the authors of this paper, presented the interactive closing session. In this session they linked the knowledge and practices on sustainable soil management as presented during the conference with the societal and policy needs.

During their preparation for this session and throughout it, Margot and Martin frequently discussed their passion for soil, more precisely: healthy soil and the importance of it. This passion was encouraged by the enthusiastic contributions and technical capabilities of the different stakeholders involved in this field, including: policy makers, academics, environmental consultants, engineers and contractors. This is also where more philosophic (Give Soil A Voice) and holistic themes arose: ‘The soil is literally and figuratively the foundation of our very existence - yet we do not treat it as we should.’

10-point action plan

An idea was put forth to gather the input supplied at the conference for a 10-point action plan in the broader context of the importance of healthy soil, as outlined in the EU mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’. The holistic view we are aiming for is embodied by the EU statement that “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”. Then, at the end of 2021, the EU Soil Strategy for 2030 ‘Reaping the benefits of healthy soils for people, food, nature and climate’ was published. This paper and the action plan is a step up to link knowledge, experience and practices with the EU goals for soil health.

In this document the authors explain:

  • The why; the importance of healthy soils
  • The what; this is what we need
  • The how; this is what we should do

The green paper ends with a clear and feasible 10-point action plan.

Martin and Margot call for this green paper to be used to invite everyone to join this initiative for debate and discussion in politics and policy, but also companies, their shareholders and the public to make this green paper a living document and healthy soils closer.

“Healthy soils are the foundation of a healthy society. Convinced by the urgent need of healthy soils Martin and I discussed, read and wrote how to contribute to healthy soils with our knowledge and networks. This gave us a lot of energy. Hopefully others will also be fired with enthusiasm.”  - Margot de Cleen

“Drafting this paper together with Margot was a beautiful and interesting process, in which we were able to combine the outcomes of the conference with the urgent theme of healthy soil and the soil strategy being developed from Europe. It was a joy to work together!” 
Martin Doeswijk


Download Green Paper Soil (PDF)

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