19/07/2023 Fuente: | Sociedad Pública Ihobe

SOILUZIOAK 2023 congress to focus on the need for holistic soil protection

  • • The event, to be held at the Euskalduna Conference Centre in Bilbao on 10 and 11 October, will contribute to the deployment of actions to advance in the holistic protection of this resource, by fostering the engagement of all the stakeholders involved
  • • SOILUZIOAK 2023 will have inspiring talks, papers of high technical value, parallel sessions with discussions and success stories, along with showcasing experiences and field-trips to different projects
  • • On the day prior to the start of the congress (9 October), the annual meeting will be held of the COMMON FORUM on Contaminated Land, the European network of contaminated land policy makers and technical advisers and working on new soil protection strategies

On 10 and 11 October, the Euskalduna Conference Centre in Bilbao will host SOILUZIOAK 2023, the social protection congress of the Basque Country. The event will gather together around 250 experts in this field to bring to the table the need to protect this resource from all angles. It will thus contribute to the effective deployment of the Basque Soil Protection Strategy 2030 by means of fostering a collaborative spirit and knowledge sharing among all the stakeholders involved.

The congress, organised by the Basque Government through Ihobe, its environmental management agency, and Sprilur, its industrial land management company, will be the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of soil protection from different perspectives,and will seek to provide criteria and showcase European and regional good practices for its protection.

Furthermore, the congress will bring to the fore the work by Basque administrations and other agents in this area; it will highlight the Basque Government’s commitment to the deployment of its Soil Protection Strategy 2030; and will seek to position the Basque Country at the forefront of soil management. In fact, the Basque strategy is a trail-blazer in Europe given its holistic approach.

In order to advance towards protecting the soil from all angles, SOILUZIOAK 2023 will seek to marshal the efforts of all the public administrations and companies involved, of professionals who research, generate knowledge or apply measures to protect this resource, and also of the general public, from a single vision: for soil to be managed sustainably by 2050,thus guaranteeing the health and functions of the resource in the long-term, for its enjoyment by future generations.

SOILUZIOAK 2023 will shine the spotlight on a key resource for human existence and of the other species —soil— which, even so, has been generally overlooked in environmental protection until recently. Accordingly, soil protection, which is initially disperse in multiple sectoral policies and plans, has steadily gained importance in a new European and world scenario, and has returned to its rightful place in the urgent safeguarding of the economic, social and ecological values of our planet .

Given the scale of the problem in many countries, particularly in the most industrialised ones, the focus has nearly exclusively been on contaminated land, in whose management the Basque Country is a benchmark in Europe. However, there are other threats beyond contamination, such as erosion sealing, salinisation, compacting, loss of organic matter and biodiversity, and landslides; and a global soil protection strategy must consider each and every one of those threats, as they all affect the health of our soils and, consequently its ability to carry out its functions.

Therefore, SOILUZIOAK 2023 will provide inspiring talks, papers of high technical value, parallel sessions with discussions and success stories. There will also be workshops, showcasing experiences and field-trips to learn first-hand about different projects with soil and its sustainable management in common.

Registration for the Basque Soil Protection Congress is already open at the website

Cross-cutting programme

SOILUZIOAK 2023 will begin on 10 October with the focus on the European soil protection scenario. The programme will have different papers and panels that will highlight the intangible value of this resources and how to address its protection from the global to the local.

Participants will also be able to work on the soil protection challenges in different areas of action thanks to the panels that will be held at the end of the morning. Those sessions will be focused on different thematic blocks, such as the EU Soil Strategy for 2030 and the Soil Health Act, the ‘Farm to Fork” strategy,

land occupancy and territorial planning, and soil in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The field trips will take place in the afternoon on the first day. The delegates can choose between different innovative projects with soil as the common thread, despite being in very different areas. Specifically, they can learn first-hand about the txakoli wine making in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, from the perspective of sustainability and soil protection. There will also be the option of learning about the past and present of soil restoration and the territory during a boat trip along the Bilbao river estuary; the Begoña cemetery as a new common area designed from respect as inspiration; the Zorrozaurre island as a challenge for city building; soil and the landscape shaped by mining at La Arboleda (Meatzaldea); and a new way of approaching gastronomy in a sustainable world.

Soil protection given society’s challenges will be the theme for the programme on 11 October. The last day will again start with a keynote paper, followed by different speakers who will address the cost of the deterioration of this resource for people, their health and the economy, along with its impact on climate and biodiversity.

The delegates will again be divided into different panels. They will be able to choose between themes including woodland and sustainable forestry, the application of technologies to clean up contaminated land, the role of municipalities in soil protection, or the reuse of empty plots.

Annual meeting of the COMMON FORUM

The run-up to the main event will include experiencias de otras regiones europeasexperiences of other advanced European regions in this area : on 9 October, the annual meeting will be held of the COMMON FORUM on Contaminated Land specialised in contaminated land policy and new soil protection strategies , and made up by policy makers and technical advisers of EU countries. Since 1994 it has sought to be a platform to share expertise and experiences.

The members of the COMMON FORUM work with the main international and European networks and initiatives in the field of contaminated land. Its actions include defining the new contaminated land management concepts, critical analysis of proposed European Union directives, and putting forward technical criteria to apply those directives.

Further information, and the way to register for SOILUZIOAK 2023, available at the official website of the congress,


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