Matching policy and science

Rationale for the '4 per 1000 - soils for food security and climate' initiative

Jean François Soussana*, Suzanne Lutfalla, Fiona Ehrhardt, Todd Rosenstock, Christine Lamanna, Petr Havlík, Meryl Richards, Eva Wollenberg, Jean Luc Chotte, Emmanuel Torquebiau, Philippe Ciais, Pete Smith, Rattan Lal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

At the 21st session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, COP21), a voluntary action plan, the '4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate' was proposed under the Agenda for Action. The Initiative underlines the role of soil organic matter (SOM) in addressing the three-fold challenge of food and nutritional security, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of human-induced greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. It sets an ambitious aspirational target of a 4 per 1000 (i.e. 0.4%) rate of annual increase in global soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, with a focus on agricultural lands where farmers would ensure the carbon stewardship of soils, like they manage day-to-day multipurpose production systems in a changing environment. In this paper, the opportunities and challenges for the 4 per 1000 initiative are discussed. We show that the 4 per 1000 target, calculated relative to global top soil SOC stocks, is consistent with literature estimates of the technical potential for SOC sequestration, though the achievable potential is likely to be substantially lower given socio-economic constraints. We calculate that land-based negative emissions from additional SOC sequestration could significantly contribute to reducing the anthropogenic CO2 equivalent emission gap identified from Nationally Determined Contributions pledged by countries to stabilize global warming levels below 2 °C or even 1.5 °C under the Paris agreement on climate. The 4 per 1000 target could be implemented by taking into account differentiated SOC stock baselines, reversing the current trend of huge soil CO2 losses, e.g. from agriculture encroaching peatland soils. We further discuss the potential benefits of SOC stewardship for both degraded and healthy soils along contrasting spatial scales (field, farm, landscape and country) and temporal (year to century) horizons. Last, we present some of the implications relative to non-CO2 GHGs emissions, water and nutrients use as well as co-benefits for crop yields and climate change adaptation. We underline the considerable challenges associated with the non-permanence of SOC stocks and show how the rates of adoption and the duration of improved soil management practices could alter the global impacts of practices under the 4 per 1000 initiative. We conclude that the 4 per 1000 initiative has potential to support multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. It can be regarded as no-regret since increasing SOC in agricultural soils will contribute to food security benefits that will enhance resilience to climate change. However, social, economic and environmental safeguards will be needed to ensure an equitable and sustainable implementation of the 4 per 1000 target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
Volume188
Early online date29 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Fingerprint

food security
soil organic carbon
climate
carbon sinks
organic carbon
soil
climate change
greenhouse gas emissions
carbon sequestration
socioeconomics
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
policy
science
peatlands
soil management
agricultural soils
greenhouse gas
sustainable development
topsoil
global warming

Keywords

  • Carbon sequestration
  • Climate change
  • Soil organic carbon
  • MATTER
  • EMISSIONS
  • GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT
  • SEQUESTRATION
  • FORESTS
  • GREENHOUSE-GAS MITIGATION
  • SOIL ORGANIC-CARBON
  • AGRICULTURAL SOILS
  • NITROGEN
  • SYSTEMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science

Cite this

Soussana, J. F., Lutfalla, S., Ehrhardt, F., Rosenstock, T., Lamanna, C., Havlík, P., ... Lal, R. (2019). Matching policy and science: Rationale for the '4 per 1000 - soils for food security and climate' initiative. Soil and Tillage Research, 188, 3-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2017.12.002

Matching policy and science : Rationale for the '4 per 1000 - soils for food security and climate' initiative. / Soussana, Jean François; Lutfalla, Suzanne; Ehrhardt, Fiona; Rosenstock, Todd; Lamanna, Christine; Havlík, Petr; Richards, Meryl; Wollenberg, Eva; Chotte, Jean Luc; Torquebiau, Emmanuel; Ciais, Philippe; Smith, Pete; Lal, Rattan.

In: Soil and Tillage Research, Vol. 188, 05.2019, p. 3-15.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Soussana, JF, Lutfalla, S, Ehrhardt, F, Rosenstock, T, Lamanna, C, Havlík, P, Richards, M, Wollenberg, E, Chotte, JL, Torquebiau, E, Ciais, P, Smith, P & Lal, R 2019, 'Matching policy and science: Rationale for the '4 per 1000 - soils for food security and climate' initiative', Soil and Tillage Research, vol. 188, pp. 3-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2017.12.002
Soussana, Jean François ; Lutfalla, Suzanne ; Ehrhardt, Fiona ; Rosenstock, Todd ; Lamanna, Christine ; Havlík, Petr ; Richards, Meryl ; Wollenberg, Eva ; Chotte, Jean Luc ; Torquebiau, Emmanuel ; Ciais, Philippe ; Smith, Pete ; Lal, Rattan. / Matching policy and science : Rationale for the '4 per 1000 - soils for food security and climate' initiative. In: Soil and Tillage Research. 2019 ; Vol. 188. pp. 3-15.
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abstract = "At the 21st session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, COP21), a voluntary action plan, the '4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate' was proposed under the Agenda for Action. The Initiative underlines the role of soil organic matter (SOM) in addressing the three-fold challenge of food and nutritional security, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of human-induced greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. It sets an ambitious aspirational target of a 4 per 1000 (i.e. 0.4{\%}) rate of annual increase in global soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, with a focus on agricultural lands where farmers would ensure the carbon stewardship of soils, like they manage day-to-day multipurpose production systems in a changing environment. In this paper, the opportunities and challenges for the 4 per 1000 initiative are discussed. We show that the 4 per 1000 target, calculated relative to global top soil SOC stocks, is consistent with literature estimates of the technical potential for SOC sequestration, though the achievable potential is likely to be substantially lower given socio-economic constraints. We calculate that land-based negative emissions from additional SOC sequestration could significantly contribute to reducing the anthropogenic CO2 equivalent emission gap identified from Nationally Determined Contributions pledged by countries to stabilize global warming levels below 2 °C or even 1.5 °C under the Paris agreement on climate. The 4 per 1000 target could be implemented by taking into account differentiated SOC stock baselines, reversing the current trend of huge soil CO2 losses, e.g. from agriculture encroaching peatland soils. We further discuss the potential benefits of SOC stewardship for both degraded and healthy soils along contrasting spatial scales (field, farm, landscape and country) and temporal (year to century) horizons. Last, we present some of the implications relative to non-CO2 GHGs emissions, water and nutrients use as well as co-benefits for crop yields and climate change adaptation. We underline the considerable challenges associated with the non-permanence of SOC stocks and show how the rates of adoption and the duration of improved soil management practices could alter the global impacts of practices under the 4 per 1000 initiative. We conclude that the 4 per 1000 initiative has potential to support multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. It can be regarded as no-regret since increasing SOC in agricultural soils will contribute to food security benefits that will enhance resilience to climate change. However, social, economic and environmental safeguards will be needed to ensure an equitable and sustainable implementation of the 4 per 1000 target.",
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T2 - Rationale for the '4 per 1000 - soils for food security and climate' initiative

AU - Soussana, Jean François

AU - Lutfalla, Suzanne

AU - Ehrhardt, Fiona

AU - Rosenstock, Todd

AU - Lamanna, Christine

AU - Havlík, Petr

AU - Richards, Meryl

AU - Wollenberg, Eva

AU - Chotte, Jean Luc

AU - Torquebiau, Emmanuel

AU - Ciais, Philippe

AU - Smith, Pete

AU - Lal, Rattan

N1 - Acknowledgements S.L. and F.E. acknowledge the financial support of the French Ministry for Research and Higher Education (4 per 1000 international research program2016-2017 grant).

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N2 - At the 21st session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, COP21), a voluntary action plan, the '4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate' was proposed under the Agenda for Action. The Initiative underlines the role of soil organic matter (SOM) in addressing the three-fold challenge of food and nutritional security, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of human-induced greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. It sets an ambitious aspirational target of a 4 per 1000 (i.e. 0.4%) rate of annual increase in global soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, with a focus on agricultural lands where farmers would ensure the carbon stewardship of soils, like they manage day-to-day multipurpose production systems in a changing environment. In this paper, the opportunities and challenges for the 4 per 1000 initiative are discussed. We show that the 4 per 1000 target, calculated relative to global top soil SOC stocks, is consistent with literature estimates of the technical potential for SOC sequestration, though the achievable potential is likely to be substantially lower given socio-economic constraints. We calculate that land-based negative emissions from additional SOC sequestration could significantly contribute to reducing the anthropogenic CO2 equivalent emission gap identified from Nationally Determined Contributions pledged by countries to stabilize global warming levels below 2 °C or even 1.5 °C under the Paris agreement on climate. The 4 per 1000 target could be implemented by taking into account differentiated SOC stock baselines, reversing the current trend of huge soil CO2 losses, e.g. from agriculture encroaching peatland soils. We further discuss the potential benefits of SOC stewardship for both degraded and healthy soils along contrasting spatial scales (field, farm, landscape and country) and temporal (year to century) horizons. Last, we present some of the implications relative to non-CO2 GHGs emissions, water and nutrients use as well as co-benefits for crop yields and climate change adaptation. We underline the considerable challenges associated with the non-permanence of SOC stocks and show how the rates of adoption and the duration of improved soil management practices could alter the global impacts of practices under the 4 per 1000 initiative. We conclude that the 4 per 1000 initiative has potential to support multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. It can be regarded as no-regret since increasing SOC in agricultural soils will contribute to food security benefits that will enhance resilience to climate change. However, social, economic and environmental safeguards will be needed to ensure an equitable and sustainable implementation of the 4 per 1000 target.

AB - At the 21st session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, COP21), a voluntary action plan, the '4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate' was proposed under the Agenda for Action. The Initiative underlines the role of soil organic matter (SOM) in addressing the three-fold challenge of food and nutritional security, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of human-induced greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. It sets an ambitious aspirational target of a 4 per 1000 (i.e. 0.4%) rate of annual increase in global soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, with a focus on agricultural lands where farmers would ensure the carbon stewardship of soils, like they manage day-to-day multipurpose production systems in a changing environment. In this paper, the opportunities and challenges for the 4 per 1000 initiative are discussed. We show that the 4 per 1000 target, calculated relative to global top soil SOC stocks, is consistent with literature estimates of the technical potential for SOC sequestration, though the achievable potential is likely to be substantially lower given socio-economic constraints. We calculate that land-based negative emissions from additional SOC sequestration could significantly contribute to reducing the anthropogenic CO2 equivalent emission gap identified from Nationally Determined Contributions pledged by countries to stabilize global warming levels below 2 °C or even 1.5 °C under the Paris agreement on climate. The 4 per 1000 target could be implemented by taking into account differentiated SOC stock baselines, reversing the current trend of huge soil CO2 losses, e.g. from agriculture encroaching peatland soils. We further discuss the potential benefits of SOC stewardship for both degraded and healthy soils along contrasting spatial scales (field, farm, landscape and country) and temporal (year to century) horizons. Last, we present some of the implications relative to non-CO2 GHGs emissions, water and nutrients use as well as co-benefits for crop yields and climate change adaptation. We underline the considerable challenges associated with the non-permanence of SOC stocks and show how the rates of adoption and the duration of improved soil management practices could alter the global impacts of practices under the 4 per 1000 initiative. We conclude that the 4 per 1000 initiative has potential to support multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. It can be regarded as no-regret since increasing SOC in agricultural soils will contribute to food security benefits that will enhance resilience to climate change. However, social, economic and environmental safeguards will be needed to ensure an equitable and sustainable implementation of the 4 per 1000 target.

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KW - Climate change

KW - Soil organic carbon

KW - MATTER

KW - EMISSIONS

KW - GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

KW - SEQUESTRATION

KW - FORESTS

KW - GREENHOUSE-GAS MITIGATION

KW - SOIL ORGANIC-CARBON

KW - AGRICULTURAL SOILS

KW - NITROGEN

KW - SYSTEMS

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