Successful Kick-Off: EJP SOIL is building on open dialogue and trust

The 26 EJP SOIL partner organisations have launched the unique European Joint Programme Cofund on Agricultural Soil Management. The cross-European partnership met to build a strong understanding of the programme functioning and of the required input for the next five years. High on the agenda was the prioritization of research topics and actions for the Year 1

Engaged and enthusiastic representatives from 26 partner organisations gathered in Orléans, France on 26th and 27th of February 2020 for the Kick-off meeting of the EJP SOIL. This research programme has the purpose of targeting climate change mitigation and adoption, sustainable agricultural production, eco-system services and soil degradation. Hence, the overall goal of EJP Soil is to foster climate-smart sustainable agricultural soil management. The programme has a focus of integrating a wide network of existing national stakeholders to build a sustainable European integrated research system and to develop knowledge, improved practices, technology and tools.

The EJP SOIL programme represents 24 European countries, has a term of 5 years and a total funding of 80 million €: 40 million from the European Union and 40 million from involved Member States. Initiated with the Kick-off meeting, the EJP SOIL programme is currently rolling out its Year One Roadmap, including an inventory of the research gaps, the knowledge needs, and stocktaking of the current State-of-Art. 

Photo: EJP SOIL Kick-Off meeting, 26-27 February 2020. By Antonio Bispo

We are building on open dialogue and trust

The meeting started with a warm welcome by the EJP SOIL programme coordinator, Claire Chenu, director of research at INRAE. She described the current situation and pointed to the agricultural soil challenges that we face. By linking these challenges to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and drawing attention to set European policy targets for climate, land and agriculture, she drew the attention to the objectives, challenges and ambitions of the EJP SOIL programme.

According to Claire Chenu, there is a solid basis to build on. Enthusiastic engagement, interaction and open dialogue characterise all participants at the kick-off meeting. Building trust and maintaining this open dialogue is essential for the progress and success of the programme.

Afterwards, the representatives of the European Commission presented their roles and responsibilities concerning the project and expressed their positive expectations and their support for the work ahead.

Participants gained further insight into the ambitions and governance of the programme, attended dedicated workshops, and had the opportunity to meet fellow participants. The workshops focused on calls organisation, on training and capacity building, on harmonization of soil information, access to long-term experiments, the science to policy interface, the synthesis of the EJP SOIL outputs and on communication and dissemination.. At coffee and lunch breaks, everyone welcomed the chance to get acquainted and to build relations.

Voting and prioritization of research topics

A separate workshop on prioritization of research topics had its primary focus on research topics listed in the proposal and the preliminary roadmap. All partners have been consulted on the size of the first internal call of the EJP SOIL, on the topics to be selected for the call and on the type of projects anticipated.

As per the EJP SOIL Board of programme managers’ advise, all EJP SOIL activities must build on a comprehensive and solid view of every member country’s point of departure. All activities must take into consideration the baseline of national stocktakes and synthesis.

Therefore, to facilitate relevant knowledge development, the EJP SOIL will perform synthesis and stock taking activities and research projects. Stocktakes and syntheses will allow capitalising on existing knowledge and identifying where it is necessary to expand on this knowledge.

Photo: EJP SOIL Kick-off meeting - All photos by Antonio Bispo

Next step: consultation of national stakeholders and Advisory committees

In the coming months activities will be carried out for roadmap construction. National stakeholders and Advisory committees will be consulted in order to gather information and advice on research needs. This will permit identification of research requirements and comparison to research capabilities of the partners.

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