Oficial Programme


Soil, although a scarce resource, has long been misunderstood and has not been protected in the same way as water or air. However, in recent years, the scenario has changed significantly. Soil conservation has become more and more important both globally and in Europe. Most of the EU’s Sustainable Development Goals affect soil in one way or another and, as part of these goals, Europe is working towards a Soil Monitoring and Resilience Directive, after approving the Soil Protection Strategy 2030. The Basque Country, after working for decades to prevent soil contamination, also has its own strategy for comprehensive soil conservation.




Institutional opening

Aitor Aldasoro Iturbe, Deputy Minister of Environmental Sustainability.


The intangible value of soil. Respect for soil as a guarantee of its protection.

Speaker: Alberto Santana Ezkerra. Historian and Ethnographer and Basque Culture Expert.


The contribution of soil protection to the Sustainable Development Goals. Global initiatives

Speaker: Natalia Rodríguez Eugenio: Land and Water Officer. Global Soil Partnership Secretariat. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations-FAO.


Coffee break


ROUND TABLE. From Europe to the Basque Country: the European Soil Health Law and soil protection strategies

Moderator: Dietmar Müller-Grabherr, Secretary of the Common Forum on Contaminated Land in Europe.


  • Ion Codescu. Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Environment. European Commission.
  • Alexander Boto Bastegieta. General manager at Ihobe, Public Company for Environmental Management. Basque Government.
  • Esther Goidts. Senior advisor within the Soil Protection Direction. SPW ARNE. Wallon Government (Belgium).
  • Antonio Callaba. General Subdirectorate of Waste. Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge. Government of Spain.


CHALLENGE TABLES: Challenges for soil protection in different areas of action.

  • TABLE 1: The role of soil in “the farm to fork” strategy
  • TABLE 2: European Soil Protection Strategy 2030 and proposed Soil Monitoring and Resilience Directive. How to Achieve Healthy Soils by 2050?
  • TABLE 3: Land Use Management through Territorial Planning
  • TABLE 4: Soil, an Ally in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation


Lunch break


Experiences and visits

  • Txakoli Wine Production at the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve: Sustainability and Soil Protection (Itsasmendi) (Language: English and Spanish)
  • Txakoli Wine Production at the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve: Sustainability and Soil Protection (Berroja) (Language: Basque and Spanish)
  • Boat Trip along the Bilbao River Estuary: Past and Present of Land and Territory Regeneration (Language: Basque and Spanish)
  • Begoña Cemetery: Respect as Inspiration to Design a New Common Space (Language: Basque and Spanish)
  • Zorrozaurre Island; a City Building Challenge (Language: Basque, Spanish and English)
  • La Arboleda (Meatzaldea): Land and Landscape Shaped by Mining (Language: Basque and Spanish)
  • Soil health: a cornerstone of a sustainable agricultural and livestock farm: (Errotik livestock farm) (Language: Basque and Spanish)



The environment is now considered to be a cross-cutting area and not an issue to be approached by each sector individually. In this scenario, soil protection is seen as something that will help to tackle some of the most important challenges of today’s society. Biodiversity conservation, human health and well-being improvement, adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change, and water quality and availability are objectives that are impossible to achieve without comprehensive soil protection, which will be possible thanks to a coordinated effort by all those with soil management competences and capabilities.


Geology and soils: a journey back in time to the Anthropocene Epoch

Speaker: Ana María Alonso Zarza. Director of the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain.


Watch differently, Think differently, Act differently. Building blocks to work towards the goals of the EU Soil Strategy

Speaker: Margot de Cleen, Senior Soil and Water Policy Advisor. Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Rijkswaterstaat. The Netherlands.


One health: There is no Human Health without Soil Health

Speaker: Dario Piselli. Expert in Environment, Human Health and Well-being. European Environmental Agency.


The Value of Soil and the Climate Emergency: adaptation and mitigation

Speaker: María José Sanz. Scientific Director at the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3). Member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


Soil biodiversity: a hidden and unknown treasure under our feet

Speaker: Carlos Garbisu. Scientific Director. Neiker, Basque Institute of Agricultural Research and Development.


Coffee break


CHALLENGE TABLES: Challenges for Soil Protection in Different Areas of Action

  • TABLE 1: Reuse of vacant land. Instruments of success
  • TABLE 2: Sustainable Forest Management: an Opportunity to Improve Soil Health
  • TABLE 3: How to promote the application of land decontamination technologies
  • TABLE 4: Good soil protection practices at a municipal level


Young people and soil protection

Speaker: Dalila Argueta. Human Rights and Territory Advocate.


Closing ceremony of the congress

  • Mari Mar Alonso Martín. Climate Action manager at Ihobe, Public Company for Environmental Management. Basque Government.
  • Alexander Boto Bastegieta. General manager at Ihobe, Public Company for Environmental Management. Basque Government.


Lunch and networking