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Public Events


A Global Symposium on Soil Pollution, as a common platform, will be organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), its Global Soil Partnership (GSP), the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), together with the Secretariats of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, UN Environment and the World Health Organization (WHO). Its objective is to discuss and elaborate the latest information on the status, trends and actions (both scientific and political) on soil pollution, and its consequences on human health, food safety and the environment.

The Symposium will be the first step in implementing the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management in terms of preventing and reducing harmful substances in soil as a way to maintain healthy soils and food safety in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, the Symposium outcomes should provide scientific evidence to support actions and decisions to prevent and reduce soil pollution, to increase food security and nutrition, and ecosystem services, and to promote the remediation of polluted sites.

The Global Symposium on Soil Pollution (GSOP18) will be taking place at FAO headquarters in Rome from 2 to 4 May 2018. More information, the agenda and registration:

The European Commission and the European Environment Agency are co-organizing a side-event "Tackling soil pollution in Europe: policies, indicators and assessments" on 3 May 2018 between 16h30 and 19h00. The agenda can be found here: AGENDA side event final.pdf.



UNCCD COP-13 - SIDE EVENT - ACHIEVING LAND DEGRADATION NEUTRALITY IN EUROPE: MEETING THE CHALLENGE Rio Conventions Pavilion, Ordos China, Monday 11 September, 13:20 – 14:50

By the end of the 13th meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Ordos, China, 113 countries had agreed to specify concrete targets with clear indicators, to rehabilitate more land and reverse degradation, which currently affects over a third of the world’s land resources.


The new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of vast swathes of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and to reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations.


The Conference also witnessed the birth of the first global private sector fund dedicated to implementing the SDGs. Known as the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, it will be a source of transformative capital bringing together public and private investors to fund projects to restore degraded lands, which come with environment, economic and social benefits.

The Conference took place from 6-16 September in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China.





  1. Dr Luca MONTANARELLA, Joint Research Centre and Chair of the International Technical Panel on Soil (ITPS)
  2. Josiane Masson, DG Environment - Overview of EU policy context and activities to tackle land degradation at EU level
  3. Taimar Ala, Ministry of Environment, Actions in Estonia
  4. Walter Engelberg, GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Actions in Germany
  5. Mauro Centritto, CNR - IVALSA and Dr.ssa Anna Luise, ISPRA, Actions in Italy


For further information


Soil stakeholders' conference - 05/12/2016 - Brussels, MCE conference centre

The Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission organised an EU Soil stakeholders' conference in Brussels on 5th December 2016. This event was a contribution of the European Commission to the World Soil Day 2016 aiming at raising awareness on the importance of soils and the ecosystem services that they deliver. It was also a contribution to the implementation of the EU Soil Thematic Strategy[1].

The event took place on the premises of the MCE conference centre in Brussels, starting at 9:30 and finishing at 18:10. It brought together around 200 participants from a variety of backgrounds comprising EU and national decision makers, researcher, managing authorities, industry, NGOs and civil society.

The objective of this conference was to present the inventory of soil-related legislation at EU and national level and gap analysis, as well as the first outcomes of the MAES Soil pilot[2]. This led to discussions with stakeholders on challenges and further policy developments.

The conference consisted of two plenary sessions and four parallel working sessions. Keynote speakers and panellists were invited to share their views on the way forward for EU soil policy. The parallel working sessions were meant to be interactive, in small groups with a moderator and a rapporteur for each group. The themes of the parallel sessions were horizontal (session I identifying challenges and opportunities for further policy development, session II considering the potential of ecosystem services approach) and thematic (session III on soil contamination, session IV on sustainable management of agriculture and forest soils).

In addition a Lunch session was organized for presenting the European Soil Partnership in presence of its Chairwoman Ms Elena Havlicek (Switzerland). All participants were called to become members of the European Soil Partnership (by sending an email to ). It is a good opportunity to communicate on soil activities in Europe and share knowledge.

You can download documents and presentations by clicking on the items below:

1. Final agenda

2. Conference report

3. Background paper "Towards societal benefits by soil services"

4. Voluntary Guidelines on Soil Sustainable Management, FAO, Global Soil Partnership

5. Presentations:

- Keynote speech, Pr. Olivier De Schutter (University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, Co-Chair, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems - IPES-Food);

- International context and importance of soil sustainable management, Dr Luca Montanarella (European Commission, JRC and Chairman of the International Technical Panel on Soil);

- Overview of key recent activities at EU level, Josiane Masson (European Commission, DG Environment);

- Presentation of the inventory of national and EU legislation pertaining to soil protection and gap analysis

- Conclusions on the inventory of legislation on soil protection in the EU and identified gaps, Josiane Masson (European Commission, DG Environment);

- Panel and debate on soil policy in the EU - Co Molenaar (Senior advisor soil and water, Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, NL), Eric Gall (Policy Manager, IFOAM EU), Pieter Depous (Policy Director, European Environment Bureau), Liisa Pietola (Chairwoman of Working Party on Environment, COPA-COGECA);

- Presentation of the European Soil Partnership and call for European partners, Elena Havlicek, ESP Chair

- Parallel Session IV: How to promote agriculture and forest soil sustainable management? Antonio De Angelis, DG AGRI


International Years of Soil closing event -04/12/2015 - Brussels, Auditorium Tour et Taxis'

IYSThe European Commission organised in collaboration with the authorities of the regions Brussels Capital, Flanders and Wallonia a conference to conclude the International Year of Soils 2015.

The conference was hosted by Brussels Environment and took place in the beautiful auditorium in Tour and Taxi IGBE site.

It was attended by 150 participants from national and regional public administrations from different countries, private companies, NGOs and professional associations, European institutions and International organizations.

This conference concluded the International Year of Soil 2015 'Healthy Soil for healthy life' declared by 68th General Assembly of the United Nations. The International Year of Soil (IYS) was aimed to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. The IYS closed officially on the 5th December which has been declared the World Soil day by the UN General Assembly.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the IYS 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Many events have been organised worldwide at International, regional national and local level during the International Year of Soil.  

At European level the European Commission and EU Member States have been very active in organising more than 400 events during the IYS. More details on the events organised at EU level can be found here.

The objective of this conference was to present an overview of initiatives organised in Belgium and in different Member States and to take stock of the current status of soils and awareness efforts to better explain the importance of soils to civil society and policy and decision makers.  The event was associated with other IYS closing events organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The conference was opened by Mrs. Céline Frémault, Minister of Brussels Capital for Environment and Mr Daniel Calleja Director General of DG Environment delivered a keynote speech. Ms Sylvie MEEKERS, Head of "Soil, waste and circular economy" unit in the Office of the Minister of Wallonia for Environment Carlo Di Antonio, and Mr Hugo Geerts, Deputy Head of Office of the Flemish Minister of Environment Joke Schauvliege participated to the panel of this opening session. The panel was moderated by M. Peter Woodward (Quest)

The second session focussed on the presentation of the international context and the European context by Ms Nordheim-Larsen, Programme Coordinator, Land Governance and Policy at United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and by Mr Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director of Natural Capital in Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission. Ms Ana Paya-Perez from the Joint Research Centre (European Commission) presented the new publication "Remediated sites and brownfields Success stories in Europe" from the European Information and Observation Network’s National Reference Centre on soils (EIONET) and published by the European environment Agency and the European Commission.

During the Lunchtime the participants had the opportunity to look at the exhibition in the Atrium and to watch the official Celebration of the Soil Day closing the IYS in duplex with the FAO in Roma.IYS

The third session was dedicated to the presentation of the Belgian context with the achievements during the International Year of Soils, by representatives from the Brussels Capital Region (M. Saïd El Fadili), from the Flemish Region (Mr Jan Verheyen and Ms Brigitte Borgmans), and from the Walloon Region (Ms Esther Goidts and Ms Delphine de Brogniez). The last session brought together a panel of Member States representatives (Germany, the Netherlands, UK and Italy).

The conference ended up with a cocktail prepared by TV-chef Mr Felix Alen.

More information is available here:


Conference 'Healthy Soils for Feeding the Planet and for Climate Change Adaptation'

The European Commission organised a conference on 'Healthy Soils for Feeding the Planet and for Climate Change Adaptation' at the Universal Exposition EXPO2015 in Milan on 20 October, 2015, 10:30 - 16:30 hrs.expo

This event is one of the main contributions of the European Commission to mark the International Year of Soils 2015 aiming at raising awareness on the importance of healthy soils for a healthy life. It is strongly embedded into the Expo's theme 'Feeding the planet, Energy for Life'.

More details, including the conference programme and the presentations, are available here.

Green Week 2015 Nature - our health, our wealth

gwWithin the context of the 2015 edition of Green Week, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, a session on soil was presented on the 4th of June, 16:30 -18:00 hrs, at The Egg Conference Centre, Rue Bara, in Brussels.

The session ‘Healthy soils for wealthy Europe’ highlighted the importance of sound land and soil management in Europe. It addressed the dimension of land take in the EU and its main consequences on the environment, also presenting possible strategies to support a zero net land take approach. Read more...


Conference 'Land as a resource'

The European Commission hosted a conference on 'Land as a resource' in Brussels on 19 June 2014, with the objective of highlighting the importance of good land management to address European and global challenges, particularly in view of an increasing world population. It also tackled the shortcomings of the current European land use model, including conflicting policy drivers.


Past Events...