Joseph Lewis, Sarah Ridgeon and Sarah Garry
November 2022

Cop27 Adaptation and agriculture day - Soils at the centre

photo of agricultural degradation of soils on the South Downs by Robert Earl CEnv

Soils play a fundamental role in the social and natural world. Depending on whether we curate soil health or ignore the potential of soils, we can produce massive benefits or risk significant harm.

As COP27 reflects on agriculture and adaptation, soils must play a crucial part in those conversations. Agriculture’s ability to affect soil health is substantial, and natural approaches to climate adaptation will often rely on healthy soils.

Recent years have seen increased attention drawn to soils, particularly in the UK. Key events like the 2022 World Congress of Soil Science in Glasgow have highlighted the importance of a strategic approach to the prioritisation of soil. Meanwhile, recent reports like the Society for the Environment’s Soils and Stones report and the IES’s report on Soil and Land Management have provided clear evidence of the need for policy change, as well as the insights of environmental professionals.

With the Soil Health Action Plan for England imminently awaited, the national approach to protecting the health of soils and achieving multiple benefits for people and the environment is still undefined. In the meantime, a global approach must emerge as COP27 and COP15 on biodiversity bring the importance of a joined-up approach to the fore.

Taking the opportunity of Agriculture and Adaptation Day at COP27, the IES is highlighting some of the key messages on soils from environmental organisations:

With much at stake, those messages must be heard by global leaders. Soil not only functions as a crucial natural system with the potential to create multiple benefits for people and nature, it also unites our approach to the interlinking crises of climate change, biodiversity, and soil degradation.

As negotiations continue, throughout COP27, and during the days to come, the IES will continue to push for a science-led approach to environmental crises, which properly reflects the importance of core natural systems like soil.

If you want to support the work of the IES to promote science-led solutions to climate change, you can join as a Climate Affiliate, or if you’re a professional in the environmental sector working with science, consider becoming a member of the IES.

Photo credit: Agricultural degradation of soils on the South Downs. Copyright Robert Earl CEnv