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The Glinka World Soil Champion is.. Mr Luca Montanarella from the European Commission!

The Glinka World Soil Prize is named after Konstantin Glinka, an eminent Russian soil scientist known for his work on the geographical distribution of soils. The prize honours distinguished individuals or organizations that promote sustainable soil management and the protection of soil resources, which have a direct impact on people’ well-being. The Glinka World Soil Prize Ceremony took place during the annual celebration of World Soil Day, which this year focused on soil biodiversity under the motto ‘Keep Soil Alive, Protect Soil Biodiversity’. The winner of the Glinka World Soil Prize - edition 2020 is Mr Luca Montanarella, European Commission, who delivered a keynote address during the official celebration, held on 4 December 2020 in a virtual format.


This year’s Soil Champion has had a long and distinguished career in the field of soil science. For nearly 30 years, he focuses on the crucial role of soils for food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and human well-being. He is recognized as an active promoter of soil awareness in Europe and worldwide. During his career, he has contributed to increasing the visibility of soils within the policy-making community and the public. Mr Montanarella has worked at the interface between science and policy, supporting the transfer of scientific knowledge on soils into policy developments with different stakeholders. 

Mr Montanarella was instrumental in making soils relevant to the new European Soil Protection Act, European Green Deal and the recently launched European Soil Observatory. As a strong advocate of soil protection for sustainable development, he contributed to the inclusion of soil in the Rio+20 negotiations and to the explicit recognition of sustainable soil management for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

For six years, he chaired the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) and led the efforts of the first ever Report on the Status of the World’s Soil Resources. He has paved the way for a number of successful new initiatives, including the creation of the FAO’s Global Soil Partnership (GSP). Furthermore, he has published European and global soil atlases that have had a great impact at the political level, but also with the public. Currently, Mr Montanarella leads the portfolio of soil-related projects of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the implementation of the EU Soil Observatory. With more than 200 publications, he is a renowned soil scientist and a very effective ambassador for sustainable soil management worldwide. His victory also highlights the European Commission’s contributions to the preservation and enhancement of soil resources globally.

It is also necessary to recognize Ms Lydie Stella Koutika, Republic of the Congo and Dr Wiwat Salyakamthorn, President of the World Soil Association of Thailand, respectively second and third classified for this year’s Glinka Prize. Their outstanding achievement and dedication are fundamental for the promotion of sustainable soil management practices and further pushing the soil agenda.

The Glinka World Soil Prize, launched in 2016, rewards eligible candidates who contribute to raise awareness and bring possible solutions to confront acute problems of soil degradation. It encourages and recognizes field-oriented work directly contributing to preserve soils and increase food security. This year, the Selection Committee received 10 excellent applications from 10 countries. Former winners of the Glinka World Soil Prize include Instituto Geografico Augustin Codazzi (IGAC) in 2016, Argentine No Till Farmers Association (Aapresid) in 2017, Dr Rattan Lal in 2018, and Dr Xu Minggang in 2019. 

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