Programme Themes

As the conference of the European Confederation of Soil Science Societies (ECSSS), Eurosoil is the soil voice of Europe. Eurosoil 2021 aims to tackle e.g. the environmental, social, economical, and public policy goals related to / impacting soil use and services.

In line with our theme “Connecting People and Soil”, the Eurosoil 2021 Programme is structured around, but not limited to, selected Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Therefore, apart from soil scientists, contributions have been accepted from stakeholders as well as individuals in related scientific fields (medicine, economy, social sciences, and others).

Sessions and workshops reporting transdisciplinary research, enhancing scientific relevance by integrating across disciplines or engaging diverse stakeholders in research, education, restoration, policy, management, and protection of soil have been encouraged. Special sessions and workshops address if and how research meets or responds to public interests or needs, actions taken to increase research “impact” or relevance, and how actions affect research.

Congress themes are defined by selected SDGs as follows:

NO POVERTY – End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Soil-related objectives

Even though extreme poverty has significantly decreased within the last decades and enabled people across the world to improve their lives, poverty remains a key challenge of mankind. To overcome this situation, ownership and equitable access to land and natural resources paired with the know-how to sustainably and efficiently manage soils is crucial.

The overarching goal of the sessions in this theme is to raise the awareness for the importance of the soil resource as a key factor to reduce poverty in every-day life. Scientists, practitioners, and stakeholders will be invited to document this topic and to present solutions for pro-poor and gender sensitive development strategies with the objective to improve human and environmental well-being at the same time.

Theme Leader

Reto Meuli – Agroscope / Head of Research Group / Swiss Soil Monitoring Network

Scientific Theme Committee Members

Edmundo Barrios – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Christian Frutiger – Nestlé
Markus Giger – Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland
Erwin Hepperle – ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Ronald Vargas – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Anthony Whitbread – International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

ZERO HUNGER – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

Soil-related objectives

The SDG 2 aims to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. Extreme hunger and malnutrition remain a huge barrier to development in many countries. 821 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2017, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and loss of biodiversity. Over 150 million children under the age of five are stunted, which is unacceptably high. The aim “zero hunger” involves promoting sustainable agricultural practices, supporting small-scale farmers and allowing equal access to land, technology, and markets (UNDP). Soil is the most basic resource in nourishing a globally growing population and must be in the focus of SDG 2.

The soil science community can contribute significantly to different targets formulated within the SDG 2 which include increasing agricultural production, securing access to production resources, ensuring sustainable food production systems, implementing resilient agricultural practices, strengthening capacity for adaptation to climate change, improving land and soil quality, maintaining the genetic diversity, and supporting agricultural research and technology developments.

Theme Leader

Michael Zimmermann – Scientific Officer – Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG

Scientific Theme Committee Members

Johan Bouma – Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands
Anna Bozzi – Science Industries
Else Bünemann-König, – FIBL, Department of Soil Sciences, Switzerland
Stéphane Burgos – Bern University of Applied Sciences, School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL
Jochen Mayer – Agroscope, Switzerland
Taru Sanden – AGES Department for Soil Health and Plant Nutrition, Austria
Michael Schaepman – University of Zürich, Switzerland
Fabienne Thomas – SBV Swiss farmer association, Switzerland
Marcel van der Heijden – Agroscope / University of Zürich, Switzerland
Saskia Visser – Program Lead Sustainable Land Use / Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands
Martin Wiesmeier – Lehrstuhl für Bodenkunde und Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft Weihenstephan, Germany

GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Soil-related objectives

Soil is a key factor for human health and well-being, as it is an essential basis for primary pro­­duction, biodiversity, decomposition of organic matter, recycling of nutrients, regeneration of water resources, and other ecological and biogeochemical functions crucial for sustaining life on our planet. Unfortunately, pollution and other forms of soil degradation continue to be major impacts adversely affecting these functions and thus, directly as well as indirect­ly, also human health and well-being. Theme 3 of Eurosoil 2021 is focusing on pro­blems and potential solutions associated with soil pollution. Issues of health and well-being related to other impacts on soils are covered by the other themes of the congress. Soil pollution origi­nates from many kinds of human activities, including mining, industrial production, traffic, product use and consumption, waste disposal, or the application of agro­chemicals.

As new materials, products, and applications continue to be developed at an in­creasing rate, also new environmental and human health risks continue to arise from them, calling not only for the adjustment of currently adopted approaches to deal with these risks, but also for entirely new monitoring, risk assessment, remediation, and management schemes and a far-sighted comprehen­sive European soil protection policy.

Theme Leader

Rainer Schulin – Professor emeritus for Soil Protection ETH Zürich / Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems

Scientific Theme Committee Members

Mónica Amorim – University of Aveiro, Portugal
Moritz Bigalke – University of Bern, Switzerland
Thomas Bucheli – Agroscope Zürich-Reckenholz, Switzerland
Laurent Charlet – Joseph Fourier University of Grenoble, France
Héctor Miguel Conesa Alcaraz, – Polytechnical University of Cartagena, Spain
Marco Contin – University of Udine, Italy
María Teresa Domínguez Núñez – University of Sevilla, Spain
Michael Evangelou – Eberhard Recycling, Rümlang, Switzerland
Michal Gasiorek – University of Krakow, Poland
Violette Geissen, University of Wageningen, The Netherlands
Margaret Graham – University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
Bettina Hitzfeld – Federal Office for the Environment, Berne, Switzerland
Petra Kidd, CSIC – Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Rolf Krebs – Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Wädenswil, Switzerland
Markus Lenz – University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW)
Michel Mench – INRA, Bordeaux, France
Dietmar Müller-Grabherr – UBA, Vienna, Austria
Bernd Nowack – Empa, Dübendorf, Switzerland
Markus Puschenreiter – BOKU, Vienna, Austria
Jörg Römbke – ECT Ecotoxicology, Germany
Kees van Gestel – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
Joke van Wensem – Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Netherlands
Christiane Wermeille – Federal Office for the Environment, Berne, Switzerland

CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

LIFE ON LAND – Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss

Soil-related objectives

Land degradation results in impaired soil functions and endangers important ecosystem services, such as maintaining biodiversity, providing food, fibre, timber and fuel, regulating water flow, and purifying water. In order to help to reverse this trend, we want to answer the questions of how soil functions can be improved and maintained sustainably, how they are affected by and can be made resilient against disturbances, and how they can be restored if impaired. To this end, we want to bring together scientists, stakeholders, and practitioners to present and discuss (i) the latest scientific insights into the biological, chemical, and physical processes and their interactions that are the basis of soil functions, (ii) natural and technical options to sustainably manage and restore soil functions, and (iii) approaches how to deal with related economic, political and social implications. A particular question to answer will be whether the related targets of the Agenda 2030 are realistic.

Theme Leaders

Jörg Luster – Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research / WSL Forest Soils and Biogeochemistry
Thomas Keller – Agroscope / Department of Natural Resources and Agriculture

Scientific Theme Committee Members

Christine Alewell – University of Basel, Switzerland
Jennie Barron – Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences SLU, Uppsala, Sweden
Annemarie Bastrup-Birk – European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark
Peter de Ruiter – Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils ITPS, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Emmanuel Frossard – ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Stefan Glatzel – University of Vienna, Austria
Axel Göttlein – TU München, Germany
Armin Keller – Agroscope Reckenholz, Switzerland
Corsin Lang – Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, Bern, Switzerland
María José Marqués – Universidad Autónoma, Madrid, Spain
Edward Mitchell – University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Paul Murphy – University College Dublin, Ireland
Dani Or – ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Panos Panagos – EC Joint Research Centre, European Soil Data Centre, Ispra, Italy
Stephan Peth – University of Kassel, Germany
Irmi Seidl – Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
Wolfgang G. Sturny – LANAT Office for Agriculture and Nature, Zollikofen, Switzerland
Wim van der Putten – Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NIOO-KNAW, Wageningen, the Netherlands
Hans-Jörg Vogel – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Halle, Germany
Borivoj Sarapatka – Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences

SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

Soil-related objectives

SDG 11 focuses on urban environment. More than half of the world’s population live in urban areas; in developed countries, urban dwellers represent between 75% and 80% of the population. Urbanization is exerting pressure on peri-urban and rural areas (national and regional spatial planning), on regional climate (UHI), on biodiversity, and on human physical (contamination), and mental (green public spaces) health. Even if there is no specific target focussing on soils in the SDG 11, a sustainable management of urban soils can contribute to achieving sustainable cities and enhancing well-being of urban population.

Moreover, as the major part of the population resides in cities and has lost the concrete and emotional link to the “dirt”, there is a vast development potential for awareness raising about the multiple soil functions and the provided services to urban dwellers. Therefore, a healthy and functional soil as basis for sustainable cities and communities is a major challenge for the future.

Theme Leader

Elena Havlicek – Office for the Environement FOEN – Soil and Biotechnology Division

Scientific Theme Committee Members

Joel Amossé – INRA, France
Eric Brevik – Dickinson State University, USA
Gabriele Broll – University of Osnabrück, Germany
Géraldine Bullinger – School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, Switzerland
Constanza Calzolari – Institute of Biometeorology of the Italian National Research Council, Italy
Reto Camenzind – Federal Office for Spatial Development, Switzerland
Margot De Cleen – Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water management, Netherlands
Peter de Ruiter – University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Fabienne Favre – School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, Switzerland
Baptiste Grard – AgroParisTech, France
Rolf Krebs – Institute for Natural Resource Sciences ZHAW, Switzerland
Kirstin Marx – German Environment Agency, Germany
Jean-Louis Morel – Soil and environmental sciences, University of Lorraine, Nancy, France
Tatiana Prokofieva – Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Thomas Scholten – University of Tübingen, Germany
Christophe Schwartz – Soil and environmental sciences, University of Lorraine, Nancy, France
Jaroslava Sobocka – Soil Science and Conservation Research Institute VUPOP, Bratislava, Slovakia
Silvia Tobias – Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Switzerland
Isabelle Verbeke – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Paola Vigano – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland
Borut Vrscaj – Department for Agroecology and Natural Resources, Agricultural Institute, Slovenia

CLIMATE ACTION – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Soil-related objectives

Planetary warming has continued in recent years, setting a new record of about 1.1 degrees Centigrade above the preindustrial period, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Drought conditions predominated across much of the globe. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reached a record high of 400 parts per million in 2016. Mitigation and adaptation to climate change and its impacts will require building on the momentum achieved by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Stronger efforts are needed to build resilience and limit climate-related hazards and natural disasters. What is the role of soils for this goal?

Theme Leader

Johan Six – Professor ETH Zurich – Department of Environmental Systems Science

Scientific Theme Committee Members

Samuel Abiven – UZH, Switzerland
Jorge Alvaro-Fuentes – EEAD-CSIC, Spain
Claire Chenu – INRA, France
Franziska De Vries – University of Manchester, UK
Axel Don – Thunen Institute, Germany
Frank Hagedorn – WSL, Switzerland
Martin Hartmann – ETH, Switzerland
Ivan Janssens – University of Antwerpen, Belgium
Eric Justes – CIRAD, France
Thomas Katterer – SLU, Europe
Jens Leifeld – Agroscope, Switzerland
Markus Steffens – FIBL, Switzerland


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