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.
Missions are a novelty of the EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe. They are a new way of bringing concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges. Restoring and maintaining soil health is one of these major societal challenges. Life on Earth depends on healthy soils. Soils are not only the foundation of our food systems. They also provide clean water and habitats for biodiversity while contributing to climate resilience.
Although we take soils for granted, they are a scarce, threatened resource. It is estimated that between 60 and 70% of EU soils are unhealthy. Indeed, one centimeter of soil can take hundreds of years to form, but can be lost in just a single rainstorm or industrial incident.
The Mission “A Soil Deal for Europe” will support the transition towards healthy soils by 2030 by putting in place an effective network of 100 living labs and lighthouses in rural and urban areas. In addition to creating knowledge and solutions for soil health, the Mission will advance the development of a harmonised framework for soil monitoring in Europe and increase people’s awareness on the vital importance of soils.
The Mission is embedded in the wider EU policy frameworks: it will contribute to Europe’s ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and is an integral part of a number of Green Deal strategies.
Together with the EU Soil Strategy and the recently launched European Soil Observatory (EUSO), the Mission will carry out comprehensive actions for sustainable soil management and soil restoration across a range of land uses - agriculture, forestry, urban areas and natural/semi-natural areas. The Mission will be implemented in synergy with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to increase the uptake and the effectiveness of soil related measures funded under the CAP.