General Information Scientific and Technological Background

Land and soil are essential for life on Earth. They supply the food we grow and eat, as well as other goods such as feed, textiles, or wood. Soil also provides a range of ecosystem services, which are important for clean water, supporting biodiversity or for cycling nutrients and regulating climate. Soil is a highly dynamic and fragile system - and it is a finite resource. It can take up to 1,000 years to produce 1cm of soil.

However, we tend to take these benefits for granted and as a result have neglected the health of our soils. Soil is facing pressures from an increasing population that demands more land for production, settlement and industries. It is also heavily affected by climate change, erosion and sea level rises. Approximately 33% of our global soil is degraded and in the EU, erosion is affecting 25% of agricultural land. Soils are fragile and they can take thousands of years to form but can be destroyed in hours! This means that we need to take care of soils now so that they can be regenerated and safeguarded for future generations. 

Fort this reason, soil condition is at the heart of the new Green Deal for Europe and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In this direction, European Union is proposing to a launch a Mission as “Caring for soils is caring for life”.

Action Zones (Optional)

Mission activities will combine research and innovation, training and advice as well as demonstration of good practices for soil management using “Living labs” (experiments and innovation in a laboratory on the ground) and “Lighthouses” (places to showcase good practices).

Plans with detailed actions, investment strategy and performance indicators will be developed during the preparatory phase.

Also, each mission will operate as a portfolio of actions – such as research projects, policy measures or even legislative initiatives.

Scope and Goals

The main goal of the mission is “ By 2030, at least 75% of all soils in each EU country are healthy and are able to provide essential services that we depend on.” 

The mission of Caring for Soils is Caring for Life will raise society’s awareness of soils and put Europe on a path towards sustainable land and soil management. The mission will be a joint endeavour, bringing in people from all walks of life, be they farmers, scientists, businesses, politicians or everyday people including the consumers we all are.

A mission in the area of soil health and food will provide a powerful tool to raise awareness on the importance of soils, engage with citizens, create knowledge and develop solutions for restoring soil health and soil functions. This will allow full use of the potential of soil to mitigate the effects of climate change. Results will have a direct impact on the success of the European Green Deal and its ambition to progress on climate, biodiversity and sustainable food.

Call Information (Optional)

A preparatory phase began in November 2020, and will last a maximum of 12 months. Plans with detailed actions, investment strategy and performance indicators will be developed during this phase.

At the end of it, missions will be assessed against a set of robust criteria. Once approved, missions will get fully up and running, probably by 3rd or 4th quater of 2021.


Each EU mission will have a specific timeframe and budget depending on the challenge.