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RECSOIL: recarbonization of global soils

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Update of 17.06.2020  

GSP WEBINAR ON RECSOIL: RECARBONIZATION OF GLOBAL SOILS. The webinar discussed the feasibility of moving the SOC agenda into action and how RECSOIL can contribute to it.

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Increased soil organic carbon (SOC) has been identified as one of the most cost-effective options for climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as combating desertification, land degradation and food insecurity by the IPCC’s special report on climate change and land. Maintaining existing SOC stocks and enhancing SOC sequestration through sustainable soil management (SSM) practices constitute a feasible solution to offset a portion of global emissions while providing multiple benefits for the environment, people and the economy. While there is substantial scientific evidence that soils could play an important role in the current global challenges, there are still some uncertainty and risks for moving into action and scale up. FAO and its Global Soil Partnership (GSP) have established "RECSOIL: Recarbonization of global soils" as an initiative to move the SOC agenda into action using the best tools and technologies available while being aware of the associated uncertainties.

15:00 - 15:15 | OPENING REMARKS

  • Dr Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General
  • Mr Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
  • H.E. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica

15:15 - 15:25 | Status and challenges of global soil organic carbon sequestration – Prof. Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, The Ohio State University, Ohio, USA

15:25 - 15:35 | Is soil organic carbon sequestration really feasible? How to scale it up? Prof. Pete Smith, Professor of Soils and Global Change, Aberdeen University and Science Director of Scotland’s ClimateXChange

15:35 - 15:45 | Soil organic carbon sequestration: experience from the groundMs Maria Beatriz Giraudo,Farmer from Argentina

15:45 - 15:55 | Unlocking the potential of soil organic carbon: RECSOILMs Rosa Cuevas/Mr Ronald Vargas, FAO

15:55 - 16:25 | PANEL SESSION - Moving the SOC agenda into action:

  • Ms Arianna Giuliodori, Secretary General, World Farmers Association
  • Mr Eric Fernandes, Global Lead, Technology-Innovation-Climate Smart Agriculture, World Bank Group 
  • Ms Christine Mueller, Policy officer, DG Clima, European Commission
  • Mr Barney Debnam, Strategy Lead Agriculture at Microsoft

16:25 - 16:30 | CONCLUSIONMs Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General Climate and Natural Resources, FAO

Moderator: Mr Eduardo Mansur, Director Land and Water Division, FAO



The technical seminar “RECSOIL: Recarbonization of Global Soils” was hosted online through the zoom platform on the 7 April 2020. Mr Eduardo Mansur, Director of the Land and Water Division (CBL), welcomed the 110 participants who joined from FAO HQ and regional offices.


The main objective of RECSOIL is to support and improve the national and regional greenhouse gases (GHG) mitigation and carbon sequestration initiatives. The program includes financial incentives that will be achieved by establishing a robust methodology that allows carbon credits to be traded. The Marketplace & Clearinghouse will enable and promote a liquid, generic market for soil-based credits, and others. As a result, additional and multiple benefits can be achieved: yields can increase, biotic and abiotic resilience of crops improves, and carbon and ecosystem services lost through traditional farming recover. Thus, carbon sequestered due to sustainable soil management produces additional relevant benefits at farmer level.

The guest speaker Professor Pete Smith, professor at the University of Aberdeen on Soil & Global Change, and Science Director of Scotland’s climate for change in Scotland’s, UK spoke about the role of soil organic carbon as a nature-based solution and global gaps. The presentation explained how climate smart soils had been around for years, and it relates to FAOs climate smart agriculture; the correct management of soils ensures a climate smart system of agriculture. The increase in carbon and the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission encourages an efficient agricultural mechanism. The Soil Carbon Sequestration (SCS) requires a limited amount of energy and significantly low negative potential, low-cost option, requires minimal land and water intake.

Ms. Rosa Cuevas, from the GSP Secretariat, presented the work of FAO on soil organic carbon (SOC) and how to unlock its potential. SOC is identified as the second-largest threat to soil function; therefore jeopardizing the soil functions leads to a loss of the inherent soil’s capacity to provide essential ecosystem services. According to IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, increased SOC content is one of the most cost-effective options for climate change adaptation and mitigation, combat desertification, land degradation and food insecurity.

Mr. Ronald Vargas, secretary of the GSP secretariat, presented the current challenge in terms of global emission. The GSP proposal in relation to SOC represents an affordable investment and a viable solution. RECSOIL is a mechanism whereby farmers in central positions are encouraged to adopt sustainable practices to see a yield increase while using less inputs, which generates carbon credits. The step-by-step implementation of RECSOIL requires feasibility through understanding the current stock of carbon and examining the potential to develop a specific program. The benefit of enhancing and maintaining SOC does not only relate to food security but directly benefits farmers who will receive technical support and financial incentives. SOC sequestration is a long process, thus cannot be measured every year; the minimum cycle is eight-year. The MRV process is fundamental, and the effort of the GSP will help countries improve their capacities on measuring SOC. As Mr. Ronald Vargas mentioned, the MRV general protocol is a monitoring system that is in the process of implemented as a standard operating procedure.

Meeting report | RECSOIL: Recarbonization of Global Soils | Watch the video

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