Soil Manifesto

WHAT IS ESSENTIAL IS INVISIBLE TO THE EYE

A collaboration by concerned people of the world

We, as part of the ecosystem, understand ourselves as guardians of the soil.

Healthy, living soil is essential for life to thrive. In recent human history quality and care of soil has been largely ignored and misunderstood. The vital role that healthy soils play in our ecosystems needs to be recognised, protected and restored. Soil is where 95% of all our food grows: Healthy, biodiverse soil means healthy food and healthy people. Healthy soils are not only the foundation for food, they are the main source of fuel, fibre and medical products, they are also essential to all ecosystems, playing a key role in the carbon cycle, storing and filtering water, and improving resilience to floods and droughts. Soil is alive. Soil health is directly related to human survival and wellbeing. It is hope for the future generations. We must save it in order to preserve, not just humankind, but all life on Earth.

We call for:

1.
Soil Rights

The acknowledgement and legal recognition that soil is alive, and therefore be given rights and protected and regenerated.

2.
Protection and conservation of untouched soils

Conservation and sustainable management of soils, at national and global level.

3.
Updated Monitoring of Soils

Monitoring on the state of global soils through regulatory, mandatory frameworks and targeted strategies, based on validated and updated monitoring systems.

4.
Guaranteed income for farmers who follow the VGSSM and improve soil quality naturally

Recognition, reward and guaranteed income for small scale farmers based on valuing the benefit they provide to society, their stewardship of the land, and the ecosystem services they generate; also support for farmers while transitioning to organic.

5.
The end to unjust subsidies

The end of unjust subsidies to agro-industrial farming- give priority instead to small farmers who provide vital ecological and societal services. Subsidies are unjust if they do not support and take into account the natural capital that small farmers are more likely to generate; support for farmers to transition to organic, and reward for the provision of services which they contribute to their local ecosystem and societies.

6.
Recognition, Valuing and Protection of  Traditional Wisdom and Sustainable Land-based Cultures

Recognition of indigenous knowledge and experience relating to soil protection and preservation and  acknowledgment of  traditional cultures´ rights to land that has been their heritage and life source for many generations;  recognition of the heritage of local competence and intergenerational knowledge regarding soil management of people who work and live on the land (traditionally and historically).

7.
Urgent urban adaptation and limit

Support for urban initiatives that reform brownfields to green and regenerate and prevent soil sealing. Rewarding green cities with increased real soil coverage. 

8.
Support for Research and Education

Support for qualitative assessments, investigation, education and dissemination regarding chemical free, natural soil regeneration and conservation strategies, as well as interdisciplinary research and education on soil microorganisms and biodiversity´s impact on well-being and health. 

Soil affects ALL life on Earth

 It is connected to our food, water quality, biodiversity, construction, farming, health and urban expansion. The state of our Soil is intrinsically linked with a number of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG´s of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) but of particular importance are Zero Hunger, Climate action, Life on land and Sustainable Cities and Communities.  

  • Support for sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices and networks of pioneers in this field to create working models that can be imitated and scaled. 
  • Guaranteed access to arable land and pastures for local and indigenous communities to continue to produce their food and to stop the illegal and forced removal of people from their original lands
  • Counteraction of land acquisitions by big enterprises through protective laws and restrictions
  • The end to unfair subsidies to industrial farming: instead, we demand support for small farmers by public investments in services for rural communities, such as public transport, schools and health services
  • An independent judiciary on the potential negative health effects caused by industrial agrochemicals on soil biodiversity and soil health
  • The reduction of the use of industrial agrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the promotion of organic and agro-ecological farming methods. 
  • Support for the horizontal cooperation and the vertical integration in the food and farming system, in order to increase the added value of local agricultural production and the vitality of agricultural small enterprises ie. Farm to buyer markets, an end to unfair market subsidies
  • The strict limiting of intensive animal farming which causes degradation, erosion and contamination of soil ecosystems. We demand a  reduction in livestock intensity based on local capacity to produce feed for livestock, as opposed to importing feed from foreign areas where soils are degraded in the production process. 
  • Limits to the allocation of arable land for the production of feed for industrial livestock and biofuels. Instead, we call for support in the production of protein-rich crops for human consumption.
  • A global effort by the national health services to promote a shift towards less meat and animal product consumption, promoting protein-rich alternatives and disclosure of how concentrated, industrialized meat production is polluting the soils
  • The enforcement of clear labeling systems to enable consumers to be able to make ethical decisions about how the food they buy is farmed. 
  • Preservation  and protection of  forests, pasture lands and permanent meadows, assigning a special status of conservation to peatlands and organic soils – these soils are unique, under threat and little understood, their value is immeasurable and their loss could lead to fatal implications. 
  • Programs to support local people to choose protection of old forests as a source of potential income over slash and burn methods, thereby valuing and recognising traditional relationships between people and forests and creating new relationships as stewards of forests that have been home to humans over eons.
  • Limitation and regulation of the use of fire in the management of crop residues, forests and pasture lands. Fire releases enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and can damage soil diversity and life irreversibly. 
  • Stop the conversion of forests to plantations for food for livestock or for biofuel production immediately.
  • Halt land degradation and support soil restoration and adoption of regenerative techniques in farming, putting a ban on all harmful and toxic farming practises. 
  • Support of agroforestry, organic and regenerative agriculture and the conversion of croplands to permanent meadows in order to increase the organic matter in the soil, limiting soil erosion and preventing desertification, also recognizing and promoting the economic value of carbon capture as a valuable ecosystem service provided by farmers
  • A  balanced application of organic fertilizers to soils, rotating the cultures with nitrogen-fixing species and cover crops, and reducing the intensity of livestock farming to ensure a reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by animal farming and industrial fertilizers, 
  • Investment for the conversion from conventional to organic agriculture with the long term goal to  eliminate  the use of pesticides and industrial fertilizers entirely. 
  • Recognition and payment for the accountable provision of societal- and *ecosystem-services from sustainable farming (*ecosystem services like increased carbon content, water holding capacity, water infiltration, biodiversity, photosynthesis, climate change mitigation, etc.)
  • A total halt to all subsidizing regimes based on the volume of productions or on managed land extension, as they are generic subsidies to industrial farming and land appropriation by big enterprises and those that allocate resources are not complying with the principle ‘public money for public goods’. Stop the CAP. 
  • The permanent end to the transformation of green fields into urban settlements. Always give priority to the reuse of brownfields and to the regeneration of abandoned and under-exploited settlements
  • Increased support for regeneration of degraded soil for creating urban green areas and community gardens
  • Increased permeability through the de-sealing and re-vegetation of urban surfaces, in order to realize green infrastructures for water drainage and storage and counteract the urban heating with nature-based solutions
  • Updates on infrastructure strategies, in order to face the real needs of communities and enterprises, avoiding a further extension of land-consuming road networks in developed countries and evaluating the alternatives in terms of land efficient use eg. more efficient public transport networks, cycle lanes, etc. 
  • Adoption of  criteria of sustainable remediation and site-specific risk assessment, for the management and reuse of contaminated soils
  • Better studies and testing to show pollution and toxicity levels of previously exposed soils (ie near factories)
  • Transparency and disclosure of the levels of toxicity in urban soils, particularly in industrial areas 

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