09/10/2023 Fuente: | Sociedad Pública Ihobe

Over 300 experts to gather at SOILUZIOAK 2023 in Bilbao to advance in the strategies for comprehensive soil protection

  • The Basque Soil Protection Congress will be held at the Euskalduna Conference Centre on 10 and 11 October. Organised by Ihobe and Sprilur, it will contribute to the deployment of actions to foster sustainable management of this resource, by encouraging the engagement of all the stakeholders involved
  • Experts and representatives from international entities such as Natalia Rodríguez (ONU), Dario Piselli (European Environment Agency), Ion Codescu (European Commission), and Dalila Argueta, the Honduran Human Rights and Territory Ombuds, will give high technical value papers
  • The parallel sessions will focus on different thematic blocks: from the legal aspects to spatial planning, to climate change adaptation, contaminated land and to sustainable forest management. The programme also includes field trips to innovative projects related to soil protection
  • In the run up to the event, the annual meeting of the Common Forum on Contaminated Land and the final conference of the European Posidon project will be held on 9 October

The Basque Soil Protection Congress-SOILUZIOAK 2023 is sold out. Over 300 people have registered for the congress that will be the event of the year on soil protection. Organised by the Basque Government, through Ihobe, its Environmental Management Agency, and Sprilur, its industrial land management company, the sold-out event will be held at the Euskalduna Conference Centre in Bilbao on 10 & 11 October.

Experts in this field will spend the two days discussing the need to protect this resource from the perspectives of human health, biodiversity, climate change, food security and water quality, among other questions. 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, underpinned by a single vision: for soil to be managed sustainably by 2050. Furthermore, the meeting will contribute to the effective deployment of the Basque Soil Protection Strategy 2030 and will seek to position the Euskadi as a benchmark as the cutting-edge of soil management.. The legislation on which the European Union is working in this field will also be considered.

A comprehensive programme with a cross-cutting approach

The SOILUZIOAK 2023 programme offers inspiring talks, papers of high technical value, parallel sessions with discussions and success stories. There will also be experiences and field-trips to learn firsthand about different innovative projects with soil and its sustainable management in common.

The papers of the 10 October will explore the path underway in Europe to conserve soil with initiatives such as approving the EU Soil Strategy for 2030 and the advances in the Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience. Thus, the first paper in the morning will be dedicated to understanding the intangible value of soil, which will be given by the historian and ethnographer Alberto Santana Ezkerra. In turn Natalia Rodríguez Eugenio, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative, will delve into the global initiatives with the Sustainable Development Goals as the framework.

The session will continue with a panel that will look at the soil protection strategies in Europe and the Basque Country. Moderated by Dietmar Müller-Grabherr, the secretary of the Common Forum Contaminated Land in Europe, the panel members will be Ion Codescu (European Commission), Alexander Boto (Ihobe-Basque Government), Esther Goidts (Walloon Government) and Antonio Caballa (Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge).

The plenary session of 11 October will focus on the relationship between soil protection and society’s challenges. The session will be opened by Ana María Alonso Zarza, Director of the Spanish Geological and Mining Institute, with the paper ‘Geology and Soils: A Trip Through Time to the Anthropocene’. Margot de Cleen, from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructures and Water Management, will then consider the basic aspects to progress towards meeting the goals of the European Soil Strategy from a new perspective and new ways of acting.

The rest of the morning will be spent on the alliance between soil protection and sustainability. Dario Piselli, from the European Environmental Agency, will bring to the table how soil health directly affects human health; María José Sanz, from the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), will address the value of soil in the climate emergency; this part will end with Carlos Garbisu, the NEIKER Scientific Director, reflecting on soil and biodiversity. The congress will be brought to a close with an inspiring paper by Dalila Argueta, the Honduran Human Rights and Territory Ombuds.

Panels to address future and present challenges

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 on both days. Those panels, four per day, will focus on different thematic blocks, such as the European Soil Strategy for 2030, the initiatives to foster sustainable agriculture, spatial planning and soil occupancy, and soil in climate change mitigation and adaptation, on the first day. The panels on the second day will tackle areas such as successful instruments to reuse vacant plots, sustainable forestry management, applying technologies to clean up contaminated soils, and best practices at municipal level.

Field trips to innovative projects

Yet SOILUZIOAK 2023 is much more and will stretch beyond the Euskalduna so that the delegates can learn firsthand about innovative projects where protecting the soil is the common thread. On 10 October in the afternoon, the field trips will showcase experiences such as Txakoli wine production at the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve from the perspective of sustainability; 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 livestock farming with the visit to a sustainable livestock holding.

Run-up events: annual meeting of the Common Forum and Posidon final conference

The run-up to SOILUZIOAK Soil Protection Congress will include experiences of other advanced European regions in this area: on 9 October, the annual meeting will be held of the European Common Forum on Contaminated Land, specialised in contaminated land policy and new soil protection strategies, and made up by technical advisors fromf EU countries.

Furthermore, the Posidon project aimed at searching for innovative solutions to clean up soils and which has been funded by the European Commission, will hold its final conference, after five years of activity; during that session, they will discuss the future of precommercial public procurement of R&D&i to remedy soils in Europe.

More information and registration |


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