EU calling for ideas ‘inspired by Apollo 11’ to restore soil health
The European Commission is calling for people to present it with ambitious ideas for tackling climate change and improving soil health – so ambitious, that it wants them to be “inspired by Apollo 11”.
The commission has opened a call for ideas on new EU missions, with submissions from citizens focusing on “how to adapt to climate change, fight cancer, build climate-neutral and smart cities and ensure healthy oceans, soil and food”.
The collected ideas that are submitted will feed into the design of the new ‘Missions under Horizon Europe’, a novelty in the next EU research and innovation framework programme.
Commenting, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel said:
“As part of the future Horizon Europe programme, missions will help define clear targets and find solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our world.
“For this we need citizens to express their views, make proposals and engage in their design and implementation. Together, we will make Europe healthier, greener and more resilient.”
The results of the latest call for ideas will be presented on September 22 to 24. The selected missions will be announced at the end of 2020 and launched in 2021.
According to the commission, the final missions will play a “crucial role in achieving EU priorities, such as the European Green Deal”.
At global level, it is hoped that the missions will contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
The importance of soil health and food
One of the five main “mission areas” that the EU is accepting submissions for is improving soil health and food.
According to the commission, this area is important because:
“Land and soils are essential for all life-sustaining processes on our planet. They are the basis for the food we grow as well as for many other products such as feed, textiles or wood.
“Soils also provide a range of ecosystem services which are important for clean water, supporting biodiversity or for cycling nutrients and regulating climate.
Soils are highly dynamic and fragile systems – and they are a finite resource. It can take up to 1,000 years to produce 1cm of soil.
According to the commission’s research, soils are facing pressures from the increasing world population – which is putting demands on land for production, settlement and industries.
Soils are heavily affected by factors such as climate change, erosion and sea level rises.
Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
One of the other mission areas is centred around the importance of healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters.
The commission says that these are “vital for our societies and the future of our planet”, partially because they are a “source of healthy food, contributing 16% of the animal protein we eat”.
“They are the planet’s largest carbon sink and have absorbed 26% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide [CO2] emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They are home to the richest biodiversity on our planet.
They are the source of all life on Earth.