World Congress of Soil Science Policy Session Speakers

Jul 12, 2023 | Uncategorised

Speakers (for policy sessions)

Ruedi Stähli

Scientific Officer, Swiss Federal Office

Environment FOEN

Developing a national soil strategy: before and after

Ruedi Stähli studied biology and worked many years on environmental impact assessments, planning of wetland protection and soil biology projects. Since 2013 he works for the Soil Section of the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment. There he was responsible for developing the Swiss Soil Strategy, which was approved by the Federal Council in 2022. Since then the work has started on implementing the measures that are outlined by the Soil Strategy.


Elena Havlicek

Scientific Officer Federal Office

Environment FOEN – Soil and Biotechnology Division

From soil policy to soil protection: a matter of cooperation and communication

Elena works for the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, in the Soil Section. She is in charge of the domain of soil biology (policies, monitoring, implementation), soil communication and soil protection in environmental impact assessments. She follows the international agreements and conventions related to soils (UNCCD, SDGs, European Environment Agency, Global Soil Partnership). She is also a lecturer at the University of Neuchatel where she specializes in the broader field of interactions between humans and their environments.


David McKay

Head of Policy (Scotland)

Soil Association

What restoring soil health means from the level of the farm up to the level of the food system

David works for the Soil Association as Head of Policy for Scotland, while running a small-scale fruit and vegetable enterprise from his home in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.




Cristine Morgan

Chief Scientific Officer

Soil Health Institute

Impacting Adoption of Soil Health Management in the US

Dr. Cristine Morgan serves as Chief Scientific Officer at the Soil Health Institute, where she establishes research priorities to advance soil health and develops the scientific direction, strategy and implementation for soil health research programs. Dr. Morgan is an adjunct professor of Soil Science at Texas A&M University where her research emphasis was in soil hydrology, pedometrics, and global soil security. She is an editor in chief at Geoderma, a global soil science journal, and a founding editor in chief of Soil Security.


John Gilliland

Director of Agriculture & Sustainability

Devenish Nutrition

Director of Agriculture & Sustainability at Devenish Nutrition,  an innovative livestock nutrition company which creates complete solutions, improving animal, human and environmental health, simultaneously; and appointed an honorary Professor of Practice in Agriculture and Sustainability by Queens University Belfast.

He has been an award-winning farmer in Ireland, President of the Ulster Farmers Union; a Non Executive Director of the Scottish Rural College (SRUC), and an Energy Regulator in N. Ireland; while at the same time, he has been a policy adviser for Devolved, National and European Governments on Biotechnology, Climate Change and Sustainability.

In particular, for seven years, John chaired the UK’s Rural Climate Change Forum, reporting directly to the Secretary of State of DEFRA, London, and supporting the UK at COP15 in Copenhagen. While Director of SRUC in Edinburgh he helped set up their very successful Carbon Management Centre.

For the last six years John has been chairing the N. Ireland Expert Working Group on Sustainable Land Management, and on reducing Ammonia Emissions; and he currently is a member of the EU Commission’s Mission Board Assembly on Soil Health & Food in Brussels and presented the Devenish Lands at Dowth as one of three exemplar international Lighthouse farms at the recent EIP-Agri workshop on the Soil Health & Food Mission Board roadmap.

In 2020, John secured a farmer led, EIP Innovation grant support, to accelerate seven N. Irish livestock farmers to Net Zero, in a project called ARC Zero. This project was selected as an exemplar and was recently show cased at COP26.


Phil Jarvis

Chairman of Environment Forum


The NFU’s vision for soils policy – from a farmers perspective

Phil Jarvis is currently Chair of Albanwise Farming and Environment. Albanwise Farming, manage a total of 10,600 hectares split evenly between Norfolk and Yorkshire. Sugar beet, oil seed rape, maize and potatoes form a major part of the arable rotation.

The aim is to farm commercial but sustainable way, pushing crop yields to the economic optimum but having the greatest respect for the environment in which we work. Soil health and fertility and the protection of environmental features are at the heart of our management philosophy, making sure our major asset, our soils, are in the best possible condition for successful crop production and environmental sustainability.

Phil also Chairs the Voluntary Initiative championing best plant protection product use delivered through Integrated Pest Management. Phil is member National Farmers Union, Environmental Forum. Phil is part of the industry working group on Farming Rules for Water.

Phil completed a MSc in Sustainable Agricultural Management at Harper Adams University and between 2016 -2019 was a member of the BBSRC Agriculture and Food Security, Strategy Advisory Panel.

Phil was former Head of Farming, Training and Partnerships at the GWCT Allerton Project.

fertility and the protection of environmental features are at the heart of our management philosophy, making


Ellen Fay

Founder & Executive Director

Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA)

Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA)

Founder & Executive Director SSA. Ellen focuses on vision-building and creating a shared space where diverse organisations can come together with common purpose. She is key to establishing partnerships and liaising with influential figures in NGOS, government, agencies & academia. Her experience and dedication to the conservation and sustainability causes enable her to translate relevant knowledge into positive change for future generations.

Having established soil as a policy priority, the SSA have begun the process of addressing the issue according to the different policy pillars and mechanisms that drive behaviour change: regulations, incentivization, education, monitoring, the food supply chain, the carbon marketplace etc., through targeted research and engagement with policy-delivery organisations – to explore their role and potential, and better understand the barriers that have hindered them in the past.


Arwyn Jones

Joint Research Centre

European Commission

Soil in the European Green Deal

Arwyn provides expertise in policy as the European Commission’s in-house science service. The Joint Research Centre’s provide EU policies with independent, evidence-based scientific and technical support throughout the whole policy cycle.

Healthy soils underpin the sustainable development challenges that are at the heart of the European Green Deal. The need for sustainable soil management is explicitly referenced in a number of policy areas ranging from biodiversity, climate change, agriculture and pollution. The vision of the EU Soil Strategy 2030 is to significantly improve the state of soils by 2050 and to protect soils on the same legal basis as air and water. The proposed Soil Health Law will specify the conditions for a healthy soil, determine options for monitoring soil and establish rules conducive to sustainable soil use and restoration.


Mathew Williams

Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

Scottish Government

Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Providing independent science advice on issues such as the environment, agriculture and the wider rural economy and champions the use of evidence to inform policy development and delivery.



Jack Hannam, Carmen Sanchez-Garcia and Erik Button

Welsh Government Soil Policy Team

Cranfield University, Swansea University & Bangor University

Jack Hannam

Finding common ground: A case study on academic, government and stakeholder collaboration on a soil policy statement for post-Brexit Wales

Jack currently leads the Soil Informatics group and the LandIS team at Cranfield University, who are responsible for the national soil data for England and Wales. She is currently on a part time secondment in the Welsh Government Soil Policy team.

 With Carmen Sanchez-Garcia and Erik Button

Carmen is a PhD student at Swansea University. Erik is a PhD student at Bangor University. Both Carmen and Erik are currently on placement with the Welsh Government Soil Policy team.


Ronald Vargas

Soil Scientist

Global Soil Partnership (GSP)

From advocacy on global soil governance to consolidation into national soil policies/legislation

Ronald Vargas is a soil scientist with over 15 years of working experience in natural resources management with a focus on sustainable soil management for food security and ecosystem services. He joined FAO in 2011 as a Land and Water Officer. Vargas is the Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) since its establishment in 2012



Johan Bouma

Emeritus Professor of Soil Science

Wageningen University

Johan Bouma is an Emeritus Professor of soil science Wageningen University. Johan

is a fellow of the SSSA (1985) and received its President’s award in 2014. He is an Honorary member of the IUSS (2006) and of the Dutch Soil Science Society (2010). He was the first soil scientist to be elected member to the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters ( 1989). In 2017 he received the Alexander von Humboldt medal from the European Geosciences Union for his work in developing countries, and in 2018 he was awarded the IUSS Dokuchaev Basic Soil Science Award. Most recently, Johan has worked as part of a think tank of the European Commission which published a vision called “Mission on Soil, Health and Food”.

The same as planned for plenary speakers… each speakers picture and name on the same page of policy program, linked separately with their profiles to a new subpage respectively.

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