Discussing Soil Health at SB60 Conference

Jul 4, 2024 | Blog

The British Society of Soil Science was privileged to attend and to host a side event at SB60, the UN Climate Change Conference, at the World Conference Centre in Bonn.

The two-week conference featured intensive work across a range of issues where progress is needed on the path to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP29) this November in Baku, Azerbaijan. The event was an opportunity for people from different disciplines, policymakers, stakeholders, institutions, and associations from all over the world to come together and to discuss achievements and future challenges.  

This side event not only presented the opportunity to place soil health and protection firmly on the agenda for future COPs but also enabled us to bring this to the attention to delegates, highlighting the vital role they play in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

In our side event, we hosted a fireside chat panel session on ‘Soil health for people and planet: Leveraging policy, integrating governance, exploring collaboration and increasing engagement to build a resilient, sustainable future.’ The session was chaired by Dr Elizabeth Stockdale, Head of Farming Systems at NIAB, and featured a panel of senior speakers across many disciplines including: 

  • Jean-Luc Chotte, Research Director at the IRD; 
  • Dr Olga Andreeva, Programme Officer at the UNCCD; 
  • Miguel Ángel Zhan Dai, Climate Policy Officer at FOUR PAWS International; 
  • Lulseged Tamene Desta, Landscape Ecologist at the Alliance of Bioversity International. 

We were pleased to engage with the audience through the power of debate. Delegates had the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of the panel, to aid with knowledge exchange and raising awareness of best practice in soil health. 

The panel discussed:  

  • Where there were gaps in current international conventions related to soil, 
  • How gaps result in a lack of soil protection outside the focus of agriculture, 
  • What regenerative approaches could be taken to enhance the sustainability of our soils globally across different land uses, 
  • Examples of successful collaborative approaches to soil governance, barriers to future collaboration and how as a community we can overcome these,  
  • What are the key messages for policymakers and delegates at Bonn surrounding soil health.

It was a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of the society, sector and soils through actively participating in this seminal event. However, it was clear that throughout the negotiations and issues presented at the conference, there is still a great amount of work to do to place soil health at the heart of the agenda and negotiations for future UN climate conventions. Clear and effective communication coupled with continued cross sector engagement and advocacy is needed to address the challenge of general lack of awareness and appreciation of soils, whilst ensuring greater impact with policymakers. Hopefully this will lead to greater investment and legislative protections for soil, to ensure the future security of soils for people and planet.  


Andy Morris, BSSS Executive Director

The session provided a rich discussion and debate through an array of thought provoking questions on whether enough is being done to protect soils globally. It was great to engage with the delegates and highlight key messages for the negotiators and policymakers at SB60. 

Thank you to our supporters and partners who helped to facilitate the session and those who attended. Together we are helping to get soil health high on the agenda. 

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