European Mission Soil Week 2023: Leading the transition towards healthy soils

Soils are fundamental to sustaining life processes on earth, offering vital environmental, economic, and social benefits when managed sustainably. They are integral to producing safe and nutritious food, cycling nutrients, storing carbon, fostering biodiversity, regulating water cycles, and supporting various human activities and cultural landscapes. However, alarming statistics reveal that over 60% of EU soils are currently deemed unhealthy due to factors such as poor management practices, pollution, urbanization, and climate change.

Despite their significance, soils remain fragile and non-renewable, with the potential to take centuries to form but easily eroded by a single rainstorm or industrial incident. Therefore, effective soil management is essential to safeguarding this invaluable resource for the well-being of future generations.


The main goal of the Mission Soil is to establish 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030 as life on Earth depends on healthy soils. Ecorys is enabling this transition through the Mission Soil Platform and an extensive communication campaign. A pivotal element of this campaign is the European Mission Soil Week event, designed to actively involve stakeholders within the soil community. The event serves as a platform for engaging discussions that tackle the challenges associated with creating and maintaining the health of soils in the European Union.

As part of the Mission, Ecorys together with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) in collaboration with the EU-funded project PREPSOIL and the Joint Research Centre – EU Soil Observatory (EUSO) organised the European Mission Soil Week 2023. This first edition of the annual event, held from November 21 to 23, 2023, was hosted locally by INIA-CSIC at the central facilities of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid, Spain, during the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council.

The event brought together Mission Soil Ambassadors and signatories of the Mission Soil Manifesto. Showcasing their engagement but also providing opportunities for exchange and networking, reinforcing the collaborative spirit essential for the success of Mission Soil’s objectives.

Key results

The first edition of the event was a remarkable success, garnering high participant satisfaction and achieving impressive attendance figures. The three-day event attracted substantial interest, with 290, 310, and 230 in-person participants each day, complemented by 401, 402, and 384 online participants.


The event featured an extensive line-up of speakers, comprising more than 90 individuals such as directors in the European Commission, politicians, researchers, and farmers.

Plenary Sessions:

Sixteen plenary sessions, seamlessly streamed online, provided inspiring and thought-provoking content. The incorporation of Slido for polls, ice-breaking activities, and Q&A sessions increased engagement for both onsite and online audiences. A highlight was the inclusion of a remote graphic recorder during plenary sessions, earning praise and generating substantial participant engagement.

Breakout Sessions:

Eight breakout sessions were organized for onsite participants, facilitated by policy leaders and experts. The format included panel discussions, lively Q&A sessions, and interactive Slido activities.

Photo Exhibition:

The event showcased a photo exhibition featuring the 12 winning photographs from the social media photo competition carried out in the previous months. Moreover, the winning photos were compiled into a calendar distributed to the event participants.

Meet the Projects (Stand exhibition):

The ‘Meet the Projects’ activity was designed to foster interaction and networking among participants. These designated networking areas provided event attendees with the opportunity to engage directly with project representatives.

Social Media Corner:

A social media corner served as a vibrant hub for boosting event and Mission visibility. Participants actively shared photos online, contributing to the event hashtag reaching nearly 1.6 million people during the course of the event.

Read more about the European Mission Soil Week 2023 in the Event report.

26 March 2024

3 minute read

Key Experts

Ieva Spudyte

Senior Consultant

Irene Patregnani

Events Consultant

Naomi Nakamoto

Senior Communications Consultant

Olivier Chartier